Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist

Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute. -- image and summary via Goodreads

Reading this for #bookbootcamp today was a pleasure. I am amazed by the woman this story was based on - Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-1873). She was a feminist and abolitionist in a time when expressing those thoughts was certainly dangerous. Margarita Engle created this novel-in-verse to express some of those ideas. Here are some of the lines that grabbed me as I read.

[the 'she' is her mother who doesn't think women should read]
She sends me to my silent room, 
where I spend quiet hours remembering
the freedom
to read. 

Beyond these convent gates, books
are locked away
and men
the keys.

Some people
are born with words flowing
in their veins.

Just as often, poetry is a free
     of birds in air
                     and dipping
in surprising

So many people
have not yet learned
that souls have no color
and can never
be owned.

All I need
is paper, ink,
and the courage
to let wild words soar.

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