Monday, June 12, 2017

The Poet Slave of Cuba

Margarita Engle was named The Poetry Foundation's Young Peoples' Poet Laureate this year and as I am already familiar with her poetry (The Surrender Tree:Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom 2008) and I really liked it, I decided to have a look at her other work.

There is something about a verse novel that is poignant and unforgettable.  I have noted in the past how easy it is to read such novels which are usually about subjects that are really intense, and stressful.  The one's I have read are not about good things.  Which is, I guess, the reason why this verse format is perfect for such material.  They are; easy to read, brief and powerful in a way that prose would be exhausting, and pack a one-two punch that hits the mark, effectively and indelibly.
I love this format and have an immense sense of satisfaction when I can get kids to read some at my work.  I am convinced that I can thwart the causes of mid-school-grade disinterest in chapter books with a couple of good verse novels...

I was very fortunate to find the audio book of The Poet Slave of Cuba at the BC Libraries Cooperative.  This version has a cast of characters (the voice talents of Yesenia Cabrero, Chris Nunez, Ozzie Rodriguez and Robert Santana) and I found the narration to be heartbreaking, emotional and chilling.  I have, since listening to it, ordered the book because I want to see the illustrations and to read the excerpts of Juan Francisco Manzano's poetry at the end.   Both Engel and Manzano are poets to take a closer look at.

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