Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many young adult verse novels about the island, including The Surrender Tree, which received the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino author, and The Lightning Dreamer, recipient of the 2014 PEN USA Award. Her books have also received multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors, Américas Awards, Jane Addams Awards and Honors, International Reading Association Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and many others.

Engle grew up in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during summers with her extended family in Cuba. Her books include Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings, is a verse memoir about those childhood visits.

From the author's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: As you were working on your family memoir, Enchanted Air, was the writing process different than with some of your other books that didn’t deal directly with your own experiences?

A: The writing process was completely different! Ordinarily, I write historical verse novels that require an incredible amount of research, while allowing certain details to be imagined. In this case, I couldn’t include any fiction at all, and my only resource was memory.

It was also an intensely emotional experience that resulted in loud sobs and wild mood swings. There was also a lot of fear and uncertainty. What would relatives think? What if I’m misunderstood by readers from various backgrounds?

Despite all these challenges, in the end it turned out to be a healing process, because I faced excruciating memories that I had been avoiding for decades.

Q: As a poet, what do you hope younger readers gain from your works and that of other authors who present their stories in verse?

A: It would be wonderful to see young people grow up with a love of....[read on]
Visit Margarita Engle's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margarita Engle & Maggi and Chance.

The Page 99 Test: Enchanted Air.

--Marshal Zeringue