Hi there,

Democracy Now! doesn’t belong to any corporation, government or political party. Our daily news hour belongs to you, our listeners, viewers and readers. You’re the reason we exist. In these times of climate chaos, rising authoritarianism and war, Democracy Now! needs your help more than ever to hold the powerful to account and amplify the voices of the scholars, scientists, activists, artists and everyday people who are working to save democracy—and the planet.Right now a generous donor will DOUBLE all donations to our daily news hour. That means your gift of $10 is worth $20 to Democracy Now! Please do your part to keep our independent journalism going strong. Every dollar counts. Thank you so much, and stay safe.
-Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


General Pinochet at the Bookstore: Renowned Latino Poet Martin Espada Reads from His Works

Media Options

Martin Espada, the renowned poet and professor—who some call the Latino Poet of his generation—reads from his poem “General Pinochet at the Bookstore” from his latest collection “The Republic of Poetry.” [includes rush transcript]

Related Story

StorySep 06, 2022Chile Goes Back to the Drawing Board After Voters Overwhelmingly Reject New Progressive Constitution
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We wrap up this segment with renowned poet and professor, Martin Espada, who many call the Latino Poet of his generation. Martin Espada teaches creative writing and poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Just before the program, we spoke with him on the line from Amherst and asked him to read one of his poems to mark the death of Augusto Pinochet. He began by explaining why he wrote the poem.

MARTIN ESPADA: In July 2004, I was invited to participate in a celebration of the Pablo Neruda centenary in Chile, as part of the U.S. delegation invited to that country. About a week before we arrived, there was an incident that took place that caused quite a stir, involving General Pinochet. And the following poem came out of it. This poem was actually from a book called The Republic of Poetry. The poem itself is called “General Pinochet at the Bookstore, Santiago, Chile, July 2004.”

The general’s limo parked at the corner of San Diego street
and his bodyguards escorted him to the bookstore
called La Oportunidad, so he could browse
for rare works of history.

There were no bloody fingerprints left on the pages.
No books turned to ash at his touch.
He did not track the soil of mass graves on his shoes,
nor did his eyes glow red with a demon’s heat.

Worse: His hands were scrubbed, and his eyes were blue,
and the dementia that raged in his head like a demon,
making the general’s trial impossible, had disappeared.

Desaparecido: like thousands dead but not dead,
as the crowd reminded the general,
gathered outside the bookstore to jeer
when he scurried away with his bodyguards,
so much smaller in person.

AMY GOODMAN: Martin Espada reading his poem, “General Pinochet at the Bookstore,” from The Republic of Poetry. General Augusto Pinochet died on International Human Rights Day yesterday.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Next story from this daily show

Spc. Suzanne Swift Signs Statement with Military After Harassment Claim, AWOL Status Lead to Court-Martial

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation