The Sculptors of Light: Poems About Cuban Women Artists

­Reycraft. Oct. 2023. 32p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781478879602; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781478879619.
Gr 3-5–A collection of verses on Cuban women artists that trades comprehensiveness for sparkling depth. Eleven poems of varying forms showcase the achievements of their subjects across a variety of disciplines, including handcraft, photography, sculpture, and more. Engle has selected artists that range from the historical to the contemporary, demonstrating that flourishing artistic traditions in Cuba have from deep roots. Each selection is accompanied by a note on the chosen poetic form and another on the artist’s historical context. A bibliography at the end provides a starting point for further reading. However, this is no dry scholarly text. Puglesi’s lush, full-color art frames Engle’s poems with movement and energy, so that each page feels like encountering a vivid moment in time. Through the power of naming, Engle aims to illuminate the achievements of women artists who may have been historically diminished due to anonymity, lack of opportunity, and prejudice. Where appropriate, she affirms the artists’ cultural and racial identities, as well as any political intentions in their art. Through this intersectional approach, Engle skillfully balances the individual achievements of each artist with how they figure into broader history, opening up opportunities for rich conversations about why art is important and who determines what art is worthwhile.
VERDICT Engle’s thoughtful, lovely collection is a gift to anyone who has an interest in the breadth of women’s artistic achievements. Much to savor. Highly recommended.

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