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Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate, serving from 2017 to 2019. Awarded by the Poetry Foundation for a two-year term, the Young People’s Poet Laureate aims to raise awareness that young people have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.

Read more about Margarita Engle.

Poems by Margarita Engle
    • poem
      By Margarita Engle
      Mad has decided to catch a vulture,
      the biggest bird she can find.
       
      She is so determined, and so inventive,
      that by stringing together a rickety trap
      of ropes and sticks, she creates
      a puzzling structure that just might
      be clever enough to trick a buzzard,
      once...

    • poem
      By Margarita Engle
      On an island of music
      in a city of drumbeats
      the drum dream girl
      dreamed
       
      of pounding tall conga drums
      tapping small bongó drums
      and boom boom booming
      with long, loud sticks
      on bit, round, silvery
      moon-bright timbales.
       
      But everyone
      on the island of music
      in the city of drumbeats
      believed that only...

    • poem
      By Margarita Engle
      Newsmen call it the Cuban Missile Crisis.
      Teachers say it's the end of the world.

      At school, they instruct us to look up
      and watch the Cuban-cursed sky.
      Search for a streak of light.
      Listen for a piercing shriek,
      the whistle that will warn us
      as poisonous...

Past Laureates
    • Image of the poet Jacqueline Woodson.
      author

      Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of over 30 books for children and young...

    • author

      Kenn Nesbitt was born in Berkeley, California. He grew up in Fresno and San Diego and attended National University in San Diego, where he majored in computer science. Nesbitt’s poetry...

    • author

      Former Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis grew up in Gary, Indiana and earned a BA at Saint Joseph’s College, an MA at Indiana University, and a PhD in economics...

    • author

      Mary Ann Hoberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut. She earned a BA in history from Smith College and (35 years later) an MA in English literature from Yale University. She...

    • author

      Jack Prelutsky is a creator of inventive poems for children and adults alike. He served as the Poetry Foundation’s Children’s Poet Laureate from 2006 to 2008. Prelutsky grew up in...

Past Poem Picks

Poem Pick

This month, I want to celebrate a poet born in May. Rather than choose a book by someone else, I’m choosing two poems by Jane Cortez: one written and one spoken. Born on May 10, 1936, Cortez was an activist, organizer, and poet. From her I learned you don’t have to choose one way to write or one way to live, and that the work you do in your life can move the world toward a greater good while at the same time being thoughtful, lovely, and lasting. Cortez was a stunning poet and a determined activist, and she continues to be an inspiration after her death in 2012. In the words of Jane Cortez: find your own voice, and use it.