Rules for Captain Ahab’s Provincetown Poetry Workshop

By Martín Espada b. 1957 Martin Espada
1.   Ye shall be free to write a poem on any subject, as long as it’s the White Whale.
2.   A gold doubloon shall be granted to the first among ye who in a poem sights the White Whale.
3.   The Call Me Ishmael Award shall be given to the best poem about the White Whale, with publication in The White Whale Review.
4.   The Herman Melville Memorial Picnic and Softball Game shall be open to whosoever of ye writes a poem about following thy Captain into the maw of hell to kill the White Whale.
5.   There shall be a free floating coffin for any workshop participant who falls overboard whilst writing a poem about the White Whale.
6.   There shall be a free leg, carved from the jawbone of a whale, for any workshop participant who is dismasted whilst writing a poem about the White Whale.
7.   There shall be a free funeral at sea, complete with a chorus of stout hearties singing sea chanteys about the White Whale, for any workshop participant who is decapitated whilst writing a poem about the White Whale.
8.   Ye who seek not the White Whale in thy poems shall be harpooned.

Martin Espada, "Rules for Captain Ahab’s Provincetown Poetry Workshop" from The Republic of Poetry, published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Martin Espada.  Reprinted by permission of Martin Espada.

Source: The Republic of Poetry (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2006)

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Poet Martín Espada b. 1957

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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 Martín  Espada

Biography

Poet, essayist, translator, editor, and attorney: Martín Espada has dedicated much of his career to the pursuit of social justice, including fighting for Latino rights and reclaiming the historical record. Espada’s critically acclaimed collections of poetry celebrate—and lament—the immigrant and working class experience. Whether narrating the struggles of Puerto Ricans and Chicanos as they adjust to life in the United States, or . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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