I don’t give a damn whether you eat or not,” Espada says. “I want to see poems pinned on the refrigerator, carried in wallets until they crumble, read aloud on the phone at 3 a.m. I want to see poems that are political in the broad sense of urgent engagement with the human condition, poems that defend human dignity.”
But what if human dignity depends also on the principle that some things can and must be defended from instrumental uses—including art? What if the power and credibility of poetry emanates from its disinterestedness and smallness rather than its will to power and change?
Ange Mlinko has a few words for Martín Espada.
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