Juan Francisco Manzano has never known any other life. Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, he spends his days by the side of a woman who makes him call her Mamá, even though he has a mother of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still shows 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.