From acclaimed author Margarita Engle comes a gorgeous new novel in verse about Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan poet and folk hero who initiated the literary movement of Modernismo.
As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.
A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose into something magical.
In gorgeous poems of her own, Margarita Engle tells the story of this passionate young man who revolutionized world literature.
Margarita Engle was the 2017–2019 national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and received the 2019 NSK Neustadt Prize. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including Soaring Earth; With a Star in My Hand; The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner; and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN Literary Award for Young Adult Literature winner. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor, and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, among others. Her picture book Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award. Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives. She continues to visit Cuba as often as she can. Visit her at MargaritaEngle.com.
* “Engle explores Darío’s relationship with words and the effects of abandonment, trauma, grief, and loss on his work. The cyclical nature of events described, as well as the seasons’ change and the rollercoaster of emotions—all based firmly in research—reflect how the poet’s past affected his identity and career. Engle also pays close attention to Darío’s mestizo identity and the importance of utilizing Spanish language, and there is a wonderful section on linework and rhyming patterns and structures, an educational element for young poets trying their hands at redondillas, octavillas, espinelas, and seguidillas. . . . Exceptional.
– Booklist, starred review
“Heartfelt . . . The brevity of the poems allows readers to make rapid progress through the novel, and the placement of line breaks is thoughtful and effective: ‘With paper as my sky, words / are the wind that should help my mind fly.’”
– The Horn Book
“Engle distills a fascinating life and creates a portrait of a country where poetry, valued by many, could be a young person’s ticket out of hardship. . . . In introducing readers to Darío, Engle creates a jumping-off point for poetic exploration.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Compelling. . . . This accessible volume serves as an excellent introduction to Darío and will likely encourage readers to search out his poetry to appreciate his genius.”