AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts English professor Martin Espada has been named the winner of a 1999 Independent Publisher Book Award for his first collection of essays, "Zapata''s Disciple" (South End Press, 1998). An award-winning poet, Espada was chosen in the creative non-fiction/memoir category. More than 1,200 titles were considered for the 1999 "IPPY" Awards in all categories.
In "Zapata''s Disciple," Espada focuses on a broad range of political and cultural issues. As in his poetry, he often chronicles the struggles of the Latino community, examining the myths and realities of machismo, the backlash against Latino immigrants and the Spanish language, the boundaries of racism, and U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico.
A dozen of Espada''s poems are woven through the essays in "Zapata''s Disciple." According to South End Press, "In these poems, Espada unleashes his words in a voice charged with anger, humor, and compassion, following Walt Whitman''s dictum that poets should ''cheer up slaves and horrify despots.''"
Acclaimed poet Adrienne Rich writes of "Zapata''s Disciple": "In this book, full of Martin Espada''s intelligence and heart, poetry emerges as passionate artistic practice, and essays as acts of tough-minded engagement." Publishers Weekly calls the book "incandescent."
Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1957. He is the author of five poetry collections, most recently "Imagine the Angels of Bread" (W.W. Norton), which received an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics'' Circle Award. A former tenant lawyer, Espada has taught at the University since 1993.