The Trouble Ball: Poems

The Trouble Ball: Poems

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Author: Martín Espada

Publisher: W.W. Norton (2011)

In this collection of poems, Martín Espada crosses the borderlands of epiphany and blasphemy: Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, in 1941, where his Puerto Rican father realizes, at the age of eleven, that dark-skinned players are not allowed on the field; the swimming pool for guards and their families at Villa Grimaldi, a center of interrogation, torture, and execution in Pinochet’s Chile; the city park where the poet clumsily buries the ashes of a friend; the tomb of Frederick Douglass, now a place of pilgrimage. Espada also traces the footsteps of his own history, from his brawls in the schoolyard to his days selling encyclopedias door-to-door. He observes the tender gestures of worlds half in shadow, where an “illegal immigrant” gazes at the snapshots of her wedding to a stranger, or a high school wrestler helps to carry an evicted neighbor’s couch back into her apartment. And he urges us to envision justice, to "bury what we call / the impossible, the unthinkable, the unimaginable, now and forever."

"[Espada is] a bridge between Whitman and Neruda, a conscientious objector in the war of silence."

–Ilan Stavans