Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1957, Martín Espada is the author of several collections of poetry including: The Trouble Ball: Poems (W.W. Norton, 2011); The Republic of Poetry (2006), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and Alabanza: New and Selected Poems (1982-2002) (2003), which received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was named an American Library Association Notable Book of the year.
An earlier collection, Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other volumes include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (1990).
He has also published two collection of essays: The Lover of a Subversive Is Also a Subversive (University of Michigan Press, 2010) and Zapata’s Disciple (South End, 1998); edited two anthologies, Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press (Curbstone, 1994) and El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry (1997); and released a CD of poetry called Now the Dead will Dance the Mambo (Leapfrog, 2004).
About Espada's work, the poet Gary Soto has said, "Martín Espada has chosen the larger task: to go outside the self-absorbed terrain of most contemporary poets into a landscape where others—bus drivers, revolutionaries, the executed of El Salvador—sit, walk, or lie dead 'without heads.' There's no rest here. We're jostled awake by the starkness of these moments, but occasionally roll from Espada's political humor."
He has received numerous awards, including the Robert Creeley Award, the Antonia Pantoja Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, a Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and two NEA Fellowships.
Espada is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he teaches creative writing, Latino poetry, and the work of Pablo Neruda.