“Exceptional.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Heartfelt…Thoughtful and effective.” —The Horn Book
“Engle’s lyrical poetry emotionally conveys the reality of being a greatly gifted, passionate, and deeply ambitious young man in a turbulent time.” —BCCB
From acclaimed author Margarita Engle comes a gorgeous 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.
The latest biography in verse from Newbery Honoree Engle (Dreams from Many Rivers) adapts the life of beloved Nicaraguan poet Rub n Dar o (1867 1916). First-person poems describe childhood abandonment by his mother, his years as a child-prodigy poet, and his adulthood as a hard-drinking globetrotter. Engle documents Dar o's shift from traditional rhymed forms to "just letting verses flow, finding their way/ into musical rhythms that dance on natural air," at times imitating these structures. In her own free verse, 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. Dar o navigates heartache and ponders national and ethnic identity, but Engle leaves out necessary context that would allow the subjects to come fully alive. Meaningful lines occasionally sing but sometimes feel repetitious. Nevertheless, in introducing readers to Dar o, Engle creates a jumping-off point for poetic exploration. Ages 12 up.