Starting March 1st, we’re celebrating Women’s History month with 31 days of posts focused on improving the climate for social and gender equality in the children’s and teens’ industry. Join in the conversation here or Twitter #kidlitwomen and access all the #KidlitWomen posts this month on our FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/kidlitwomen/
I’m honored to host one of the opening posts, written by Margarita Engle. In describing her post, Margarita said “The subject of age discrimination is emotional, so I felt more comfortable facing it in verse than prose, since I have no answers to offer, just questions.”
QUESTIONS AND SIGHS
I’ve run out of decades, counting weeks, maybe years, wondering, always wondering, will I have time to finish the books of verse that line up so politely inside my mind, waiting their turn? Will young editors and publicists avoid me because they wonder too?
Do men worry about age discrimination, agonizing over whether to dye cloud-striped hair? Do they feel ashamed when they have to ask the marketing department for a longer layover on the way to a conference, clarifying that it’s impossible to race carelessly across airports, now that fear of falling has turned into an everpresent shadow? I imagine men must be anxious too, but how can it be the same, in this nation where old women in TV sitcoms, movies, and magazines are invariably show to be whiny, needy, and ridiculous, while aged men stride through popular culture with a stance that is tough, rugged, gritty, and wise?
No answers arise when I ask myself questions. All I know is that time does not destroy a poet’s desire to write.
each year’s crop of fruit
Margarita Engle is the 2017-2019 national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and the first Latino to receive that honor. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN USA Award recipient. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, Golden Kite Award, Walter Dean Myers Honor, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and Arnold Adoff Poetry Award, among others. Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text.
Her newest verse novel about the island is Forest World, and her newest picture books are All the Way to Havana, and Miguel’s Brave Knight, Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote.
Books forthcoming in 2018 include The Flying Girl, How Aída de Acosta learned to Soar, and Jazz Owls, a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots.
Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives. She was trained as an agronomist and botanist. She lives in central California with her husband.