Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom
Engle, Margarita. 2008. THE SURRENDER TREE: POEMS OF CUBA’S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805086749 [Suggested Grade Levels 5–9]
Margarita Engle provides a window into the rich and violent history of Cuba with this new collection of poems from multiple points of view on the several wars for independence from 1850-1900. THE SURRENDER TREE combines real life characters (the healer Rosa la Bayamesa) with imagined individuals to construct a compelling narrative of escape and hiding, heroism and healing.
A former slave, Rosa (and her husband) devotes her life to caring for people, both runaways and persecuting soldiers, using only native plants and herbal remedies with skill, compassion and faith—all while living in hiding and on the run. Set in the lush landscape of Cuba’s jungles and caves, the story-poem moves forward moment to moment across three wars fought by natives and fueled by outsiders. The plight of the Cubans themselves is a dramatic counterpoint for any war waged in the name of power and possession. But the decency and dignity of our heroine, her husband, Jos, her young protégé, Silvia, and many who prevail despite overwhelming odds makes for an inspiring and humbling saga. What a powerful poetic voice, inspiring Latina writer, and distinctive ambassador for Cuba’s history.
This book can serve as a Readers Theater script with four volunteers taking on the parts of the four major characters in this book. Record the reading and include the recording with the book.
Other poem biographies about Latino/Latina figures:
Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. CÉSAR; ¡SÍ, SE PUEDE! YES, WE CAN! ISBN 0761451722
Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. FRIDA: ¡VIVA LA VIDA! LONG LIVE LIFE! ISBN 0761453369
Engle, Margaret. THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA: A BIOGRAPHY OF JUAN FRANCISCO MANZANO. ISBN 0805077065
By Sylvia M. Vardell