It has been awhile since I joined Poetry Friday, so I am glad to be part of this encouraging and affirming community yet again, with special thanks to Heidi Mordhorst of My Juicy Little Universe for hosting this week.
Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir To Enchanted Air
Verse Memoir by Margarita Engle
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2019)
ISBN: 1534429530 (ISBN13: 9781534429536). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photo taken by me and edited using an iPhone app.
It was a few years ago when I read Enchanted Air (I mentioned it in my 2015 in Books as one of my outstanding reads that year). While some of the details from that earlier book is lost on me now, it did not diminish my appreciation of this companion memoir that I found to be fearlessly truthful.
In this verse memoir, Margarita excavates her teenage years: all its unmitigated insecurities, heightened pains, and concomitant struggles:
Here, Margarita reveals how she seemed to have a penchant for bad boys who have an intense and charismatic air about them, and how the war has affected young people’s sensibilities plunging them headlong into drugs, rallies, and free love.
It was heartbreaking reading about her path towards self-discovery, her journeys that led her to confront both random kindnesses and calculated cruelties from strangers, and her yearning for a home that she could never touch, see, taste, or feel – because her country of birth decrees it to be so. The Cuban joy is reflected in her every word suffused with longing, and her breathing in her cultural identity despite its commonly being misunderstood.
Written in free verse, each line seems purposeful, strategic, and brimming with emotional resonance. I was with Margarita as she found herself penniless in San Francisco, lost in the grime of New York, when she was attacked by a homeless person, and when she feared for her life while staying with a dangerous man whom she thought she loved. I found the story telling to be gentle, easing the reader into the crevices of her memories, allowing the reader access to her private aches and unarticulated dreams.
It is to Margarita’s credit that she has indeed created this timescape – as she graciously permits us to bear witness to her turbulent teenage years, and her not-so-easy transformation into being the beautiful and kind woman that she is now. I have been fortunate enough to meet her here in Singapore, and I shall consider that one of the gifts that GatheringBooks has brought me.
For my Poetry Friday offering, here is another poem from her Soaring Earth. Hope you find it as meaningful as I did:
Here’s to rediscovering poetry and welcoming it back into our lives “like an ocean wave” that is timeless and irrefutable.
#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America