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Posts Tagged «poetry»

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.

Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

partly-cloudy-poems-love-longing-gary-soto-hardcover-cover-artby Gary Soto, p. 100 – Grades 6-9

Told from the point of view of both teen boys and girls, these poems capture the sweetness, heartache and confusion of young love.  This meaty yet easy to read collection is divided into two sections: “A Girl’s Tears, Her Songs” and “A Boy’s Body, His Words.”

Consequence
When a stone bridge fails,
you can rebuild it with your hands.
With love, when it falls,
The rocks shoot sparks.  Gossips
Gather at the river’s edge,
Skipping stones across the water,
Asking intently, “Who brought it down?”

Connection:  For another book of poetry dealing with teenagers try Paul B. Janeczko’s Proposterous; Poems of Youth.