Together we belonged
along with countless others
human beasts of burden
to the proud Marquesa . . .
Juan Francisco Manzano has never known any other life. Born into the household of a wealthy slaveowner in Cuba in 1797, he spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mamá, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.
In powerful, haunting verses of her own, Margarita Engle evokes the voice of the Poet Slave of Cuba.
About the Author
Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. The life of Juan Francisco Manzano haunted her for years before she finally realized that to do justice to the Poet Slave’s story, she needed to write it in verse. She lives with her husband and children in northern California.