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Posts Tagged «poet»

The Lighning Dreamer

Monday, November 9th, 2015

lightningby Margarita Engle, 244 pages, Grades 7 and up

This novel in verse is based on the true story of a young woman who speaks up for the poor enslaved and mistreated people of her country, Cuba. She is inspired by a rebel poet and moved by those living without freedom all around her. She risks her own life and freedom to speak out about these inequities.

Sometimes novels in verse can make stories even more powerful and moving. If you enjoy novels in verse you might also like: The Aleutian Sparrow, by Karen Hesse, or The Surrender Tree, by Margarita Engle, or Paper Hearts, by Meg Wiviott.

The Poet Slave of Cuba

Friday, September 24th, 2010

poet slaveBy Margarita Engle, Art by Sean Qualls    p. 183  – Grades 7-12 – biography

Trapped as a slave in a wealthy home in Cuba, Juan Francisco Manzano lived his life in fear of the cruel punishments of his masters.  This sad and harrowing story was uncovered because the young slave,  Manzano, wrote vivid poetry that describes his time as a slave.   In Cuba poetry is like television; many people perform poetry for others and stories are often carried across the country because people repeat the poems they have heard.  It is for this reason that the author, Margarita Engle, was inspired to write this biography in verse, paying tribute to Manzano’s work.  While enslaved Manzano could not stop creating poems in his head; sometimes his owners praised him for his creativity and other times he was severely punished.  The poems were part of Manzano and came to him as naturally as breathing; no punishment, no matter how harsh, could stop him from being himself.

Connections:  For other serious stories in verse try Aleutian Sparrow or Out of the Dust, both by Karen Hesse.  For stories about people escaping oppression try 5,000 Miles to Freedom: Ellen and William Craft’s Flight From Slavery, by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, or The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyul Choi.