#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Lifespan of a Reader novel in verse Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes Reinventing Womanity, Redefining Womanhood

[Poetry Friday] From Hippie Runaway To Poet Laureate in “Soaring Earth”

"Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir To Enchanted Air" by Margarita Engle

Myra here.

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.

Buy Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir To Enchanted Air on Amazon | Book Depository

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

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “[Poetry Friday] From Hippie Runaway To Poet Laureate in “Soaring Earth”

  1. Kay Mcgriff

    Welcome back! Thanks for introducing Soaring Earth. The poems you shared from it are haunting and beautiful. Now I need to go find a copy to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindabaie

    I’ve read Enchanted Air, now time to read more from Margarita. You’ve shared some poignant parts that will be loved by teens, & the rest of us readers who love her work, too! Thanks, Myra. Hope your time in the U.S. has been terrific!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for being part of this week’s Poetry Friday–we’ve missed you–and for bringing Margarita along. I met her at the Poetry Foundation summer workshop last year and have been waiting to get my hands on this book. I appreciate your sharing of it here!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. maryleehahn

    I’ve got this book on my TBR list! Thanks for the insights.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve had Margarita’s novel on my to-read list for a while now, but your lovely review, Myra, has moved SOARING EARTH to the top!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] My 2019 in Books: Favourite Reads Across Quarterly Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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