jeannineatkins (jeannineatkins) wrote,

Margarita Engle Talks about Poetry and History

Some of my favorite books tell history through verse. I love Carver, by Marilyn Nelson, and her 2009 book, Sweethearts of Rhythm, a book about an integrated all-women’s swing band in WWII. My favorite Karen Hesse books are those in verse, such as Out of the Dust and Aleutian Sparrow. And I’m amazed by Margarita Engle’s The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees from Cuba, which just won a Sydney Taylor Award, and The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. I’m excited to have an article I wrote about using these three novels-in-verse in the classroom published in the January/February issue of Book Links. You can read Green Paths and Open Views online at:

I was lucky enough to interview Margarita, which Book Links also makes available online. She answers questions about blending history and verse, writing outdoors, and what she does when she’s stuck. Here’s a taste: “Anyone who observes and listens can probably write a bit of poetry, but one has to be receptive, i.e., willing to let go of the constant chatter of daily life. Poetry loves open spaces.”

If you’re attending ALA this weekend, you can pick up a copy of the magazine, which features the lovely Raul Colon cover to Tropical Secrets, at the Book Links/Booklist booth. I hope to see some of you in Boston! (and for those I won’t, I’ll post pictures when I get back). For more poetry on a Friday, please visit Great Kid Books at
Tags: poetry
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