The Meaning of the Shovel
The Meaning of the Shovel is a collection of Martín Espada’s work poems. Espada has worked as a bouncer in a bar, a primate caretaker, a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, a gas station attendant and a tenant lawyer, among other occupations. As a poet, he acts as an advocate for the Latino community in the United States, particularly the immigrant working class, from farm workers sprayed with pesticides in the field to the kitchen staff who died in a restaurant atop the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. There are other poems that explore the emotional landscape of labor, making the invisible visible: the church janitor who quits in the middle of the night, the cab driver who wants to write a love poem to win back his estranged wife. The title poem, based on the poet’s experience digging latrines in Nicaragua, embraces the vision of revolutionary change.