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KARLA MASS: The week's most talked about book



"THE SURRENDER TREE: POEMS OF CUBA'S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM" BY MARGARITA ENGLE



The dream of Cuban independence sparked both hope and resistance, so it seems fitting that the bold mountains of Cuba were the backdrop for some of the most personal poetry ever written.

Author Margarita Engle composes refreshing and narrative stanzas that breathe life into written words. The strong voices of historical figures Rosa, Jose, Lieutenant Death, Imperial Spain's Captain-General Weyler and Silvia capture the tumultuous events of Cuba's war for independence from Spain. "The Surrender Tree" relies on imagery and original verse to bear witness to the gradual abolition of slavery.


Rosa

After the raid,

I tend the wounds

of slavehunters

and captives.

Some look at me with fear,

others with hope.


Engle shares the legend of a sturdy tree with powerful roots: "The body of a captured slave is chopped into four pieces and displayed in four cages that hang from four branches. The belief by many slaves is that a chopped, caged spirit cannot fly away to a better place." A ceremonial surrender also takes place beneath the extended branches of a tree and the Cuban flag is forbidden. "The Americans have seized power."


Jose

Spain cedes power before our eyes.

We can only watch from far away

as the Spanish flag is lowered

and the American flag glides upward.

Our Cuban flag

is still forbidden.






APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH



The Surrender Tree

Author:

Publisher:

Publication Date:

Listen to an excerpt from The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom




MORE POETRY TITLES WORTH TALKING ABOUT



Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems

Author: Mark Doty

Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers

Publication Date: March 2008




Keeping the Night Watch

Author: Hope Anita Smith

Publisher: Henry Holt

Publication Date: March 2008


The Immigrant's Contract

Author: Leland Kinsey

Publisher: David R. Godine

Publication Date: February 2008



"The Week's Most Talked About Book" is a weekly book review and literary criticism column that publishes every Friday. Selected titles are based on popularity, public opinion, research and observation. Questions, comments and suggestions should be sent to book lover and columnist Karla Mass at kmass@mcclatchyinteractive.com. She is a content producer for McClatchy Interactive.
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