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Winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry.
Floaters takes its title from a term used by certain Border Patrol agents to describe migrants who drown trying to cross over. The title poem responds to the viral photograph of ï¿½scar and Valeria, a Salvadoran father and daughter who drowned in the Rï¿½o Grande, and allegations posted in the ï¿½Iï¿½m 10-15ï¿½ Border Patrol Facebook group that the photo was faked. Espada bears eloquent witness to confrontations with anti-immigrant bigotry as a tenant lawyer years ago, and now sings the praises of Central American adolescents kicking soccer balls over a barbed wire fence in an internment camp founded on that same bigotry. He also knows that times of hate call for poems of loveï¿½even in the voice of a cantankerous Galï¿½pagos tortoise.
The collection ranges from historical epic to achingly personal lyrics about growing up, the baseball that drops from the sky and smacks Espada in the eye as he contemplates a girlï¿½s gently racist question.
Whether celebrating the visionariesï¿½the fallen dreamers, rebels and poetsï¿½or condemning the outrageous governmental neglect of his fatherï¿½s Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Marï¿½a, Espada invokes ferocious, incandescent spirits.
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