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.
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