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With a Star in My Hand book cover

With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

Based on his autobiography, this novel in verse follows the life of Nicaraguan author Rubén Darío from his abandonment by his mother to his early fame as the Poet Boy of Central America to his growth as an artist and person as he traveled the world. (Also available in Spanish as Con una estrella en la mano: Rubén Darío.)
With a Star in My Hand book cover

Share this book

Having students write their own poetry is a great way to share this book and celebrate a much admired poet. Ask students to select their favorite poem from With a Star in My Hand, read it aloud, and share what it is about it that speaks to them.

Before trying their hand at the poetic forms Darío used, have students do more research on his life and the Modernismo movement he founded, and read some of his poetry. Then have them return again to Engle’s poems to look for inspiration and influence from Darío.

Four-line stanzas are very frequent in Spanish-language poetry. Have students try writing their poems using the redondilla verse form and look to the world around them—”both gruesome and beautiful”—for inspiration.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. What impact did Darío’s childhood abandonment have on his work and on his life? How do you imagine he feels when he does see his mother again? How would you feel?
  2. Darío is the “poet boy.” How does Darío feel about the adults in his life? In what ways does Darío not grow up? How does this outlook impact his behavior and his writing? How is Darío a “poetry hero”?
  3. With his dark skin and indio heritage, Darío experiences prejudice and racism. How do you think this affects his thinking about his identity as a poet? Was this something that motivated Darío to work for social equality and justice?
  4. What inspires Darío to develop new and experimental literary forms? How does Darío use poetry? What does it give him? What does poetry give you?

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