Poetry Friday November 8, 2019 - Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. She shares Words of Peace and Wisdom by Native Americans and a poem of her own inspired by them.

Don't forget to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

Last week I found this book of poetry in a library I was working in. I had to bring it home because of the author and the illustrator. Seriously, who could resist this cover?

I've read it at least three times and pored over the illustrations. The book contains poems about eighteen important hispanic individuals who lived in what is now known as the United States of America. The earliest character, Juan De Miralles, was born in the early 1700's and one of the most recent, Baruj Benacerraf, died in 2011. Women and men are highlighted. Many of them are mixes of African and indigenous peoples. Their contributions are diverse. Some, but not all of them are famous. I knew of a few of these people, but most were new to me. The back matter contains short biographies of each of them.

The poetry is exquisite. I was already a Margarita Engle fan, but her work here is profound. If you don't know her wordsmithing, you are in for a treat. She manages to reveal much about each person with her straight forward deceptively simple free verse. The first person narrative has lines that will blow your mind.

Here are a few snippets from the poems:

Julia de Burgos 1914 - 1953


Six of my twelve brothers and sisters
died of hunger, but my gentle mother
took me for long walks
beside a river
of beautiful dreams.

I learned to love nature and the island,
even though we were so poor that I
had to climb into classrooms
through a window, because we
could not afford school tuition.

Juana Briones 1802 - 1889


This is a land of good herbs
and great sorrows -- the conquest
of los indios, my soldier-husband's
cruel job.
I survive as a rancher and healer,
curing the sick with medicinal plants,
and healing myself
with independence.

Rafael López' art is as gorgeous as the poetry. Each portrait reveals information about the individual's character. Other details hint as to their time and place.

Ever since I finished this collection, I've been thinking about my grandmother. Margarita Engle has inspired me to work on a poem about her and her life. Here is a rough draft of a beginning stanza.

When I was a young girl
I saw Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West Show.
That’s why
I learned to shoot
and how Annie Oakley
came to be my hero.


  1. Thanks so much for spotlighting this book. I'm also a big fan of both Margarita and Rafael. Enjoyed the excerpts. :)

  2. good herbs and great sorrows... thank you for spotlighting this book today! I am aware once again of how big the world is, and how many people I am grateful for that I will never know. Fortunately books like this help broaden my circle. Thank you!

  3. Margarita's book is on my list, and hope I can get to it soon, Cheriee. I shared a couple of books with biographies recently, but they were not poetry. You've shared beautiful lines today, inviting us to love learning about these people new to us. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for the terrific introduction to this book, Cheriee. I look forward to reading more!

  5. Oh, I adore this book. And, I agree. The poetry is wonderful. Good job to you for capturing the feel of it in a poem about your grandmother.

    1. Thanks Linda. I might have to purchase a copy to own.

  6. Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful new book, Cheriee. Such a treasure. I look forward to reading more.

  7. This book looks gorgeous. My daughter just read Engle's memoir, Enchanted Air, and loved it. Thanks for the excerpts!

    1. Enchanted air is how I met and fell in love with Engle's poetry!

  8. I am absolutely in love with Margarita Engle's verse - thanks for sharing this one and reminding me that I have to find a copy of this stat!! :) Very privileged to have met her a few years ago when we invited her in Singapore for the Asian Festival of Children's Content - she is such a beautiful person inside and out.

    1. I am nearly gnashing my teeth in envy! I am sure you will love this. She is an amazing poet.

  9. beside a river
    of beautiful dreams
    Those lines send me into a writing mood, Cheriee. Thanks for sharing this amazing boook.

    1. It did that to me too. All that sorrow, and her mother showed her that river.