First Laugh


First Laugh

Essays, 2000-2009

Margaret Randall

232 pages


March 2011


$15.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2011


$15.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Concerns about power, its use and abuse, have been at the center of Margaret Randall’s work for more than fifty years. And over time Randall has acquired a power all her own, as her unique ability to observe, consider, and distill experience has drawn readers into new experiences and insights. Tempered by time and reflecting a life fully lived and richly examined, her thoughts on race, gender, poetry, landscape, cellular memory, and personal loss speak with eloquence and urgency.

First Laugh invites readers to ponder the role of race and racism in the 2008 presidential election; the nature of repressed memory in understanding oneself; the place of poetry in social change; the efforts of Pueblo Indians to earn historical recompense for Spanish colonialist atrocity and subsequent abuse; and the bonds of intimacy and shared political conviction that sustain family and friendship. Over the course of her life, Margaret Randall has found herself with the abstract expressionists of the 1950s, the activists of the 1968 Mexican student movement, the Cuban revolutionaries of the 1970s, the North Vietnamese during the last years of the U.S. war, and the Sandinistas. It is our privilege to have her among us now, documenting moments at once personal and universal and showing us new ways to see.

Author Bio

Margaret Randall is a feminist poet, writer, photographer, and social activist. She is the author of, most recently, To Change the World: My Years in Cuba; Their Backs to the Sea; My Town; and As If the Empty Chair/Como si la silla vacía, all collections of poems and photographs.


“[First Laugh] is a great contribution to the field of ‘new journalism’ and literary nonfiction. The essays are grounded in concrete experience as well as a lifetime of research. The style is exquisite, the prose of a skilled poet: spare, concise, and clear.”—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960–1975

“These essays come to us from the American Southwest, a terrain of rock, sand, and here and there a tree whose roots have found water. Margaret Randall is herself a weather-beaten survivor of revolutionary upsurge in Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua. She looks out across the American desert from a place that is close to the heart of reality.”—Staughton Lynd, coauthor of Stepping Stones: Memoir of a Life Together

"Randall is a sincere, poetic, and compelling narrator, and her latest collection offers something for everyone."—Publishers Weekly

Table of Contents

A Few Words about These Essays
The American People
Pumping Gas
Flying Backwards
Bigger, Better, Best
Race and Racism: The 2008 Election
The Cell Remembers
Rolling Eyes
Remembering Mother
First Laugh
Pircing the Walls
Oñate's Right Foot
Can Poetry Matter?
Words for El Corno Emplumado
The Living Silence of a Place like Kiet Seel
Crystal's Gift
The Place Where Color Sounds
My Losses

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