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Cradled by Skeletons: A Life in Poems and Essays

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Cradled by Skeletons: A Life in Poems and Essays is a raw expression of identity and place. This memoir relates Marta Miranda-Straub’s experience of trauma, resilience, and transformation. The book also portrays how her life’s work as a social worker, educator, leader, activist, advocate, and community organizer has been fueled by discernment, resistance, and transformation of individual, institutional, and societal systems of power. Miranda-Straub has a keen sense of awareness and she questions injustices with intention, compassion, humility and humor. There is a shared connection with both the victim and the perpetrator in her writings that exalts the grit and grace of humanity. 

When asked what makes Cradled by Skeletons unique, Marta replied:

 “I believe the uniqueness is the personal narrative, it is my life. ‘Everyone else’s is already taken,’ Oscar Wilde. 

Cradled by Skeletons may be similar to other books in this genre; however, every fiber of my thumb print is exposed and every skeleton that has cradled me has been surfaced and adorned with the beading it deserves. It is una Fiesta de los Muertos, a feast of the dead for those of us living due to their generosity of spirit.”

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Author Bio

MARTA MIRDANDA-STRAUB

MARTA MIRDANDA-STRAUB

MARTA M. MIRANDA-STRAUB is a poet and storyteller who has spent her life working towards equity, inclusion, and creating systems change. Her activism has focused on advancing social and economic justice for marginalized communities. Marta is the author of Cradled by Skeletons: A Life in Poems and Essays (November 2019), in which she explores themes of complex and multiple identities within the experiences of birth, childhood, family, exile, trauma, addiction, resilience, community, discrimination, and social justice work. It is Marta’s hope to expand readers’ capacity for love of “the other,” especially during these abhorrent political waves of hate, violence, and scapegoating of those seeking asylum in the U.S.

Until the age of twelve Marta was raised in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. In 1966 she immigrated to New Jersey. “As a refugee family from Cuba,” Marta said, “we were resettled by Catholic Charities in West New York, New Jersey, with a sponsor family in September 1966. We left our extended family, photo albums, toys, worldly belongings, language, culture, flag, and land on the island.” She now lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky, and describes herself affectionately as a Cubalachian— a combination of Cuban and Appalachian. When she arrived in Kentucky and saw the beauty of the “old and worn mountains” she “knew that [she] could be an American, a Cuban-American, as long as [she] could live in Kentucky.”

Marta is a Latinx Queer woman who lives and works at the intersection of identities, ethnicity, race, gender, and sexualities—applying an intersectional feminist lens to all she does. She has over forty years of experience in organizational and clinical social work practice, during which she has held multiple roles—professor, social researcher, author, psychotherapist, executive leader, fund raising professional, community organizer, advocate/activist, executive coach, facilitator, trainer, and public speaker. She is the founder and principal of Catapult Now LLC, which provides organizational and leadership development, board development, executive coaching, coalition building, and facilitation and trainings services to nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Marta was inducted into the Affrilachian Poets by Frank X Walker in 2009. She has read and performed poetry and stories nationally at universities, literary venues, conferences, marches and rallies.

Advance Praise

“In Cradled by Skeletons, Marta Miranda-Straub gifts her readers a time capsule of poems and essays brimming with precious scenes, fragrances, and voices that stretch from Cuba to Appalachia. To absorb Marta’s life as a self-proclaimed “queer woman of color/an Afro-Caribbean/a political refugee” feels like sacred work, where we witness women who trade veils for machine guns, copperheads that stretch out to sun in the mountains, moments where the lives of people and Orishas are obliged to intersect, and others where prayer and activism collide on behalf of the collective. Marta’s greatest strength is that her voice remains inclusive and warm and vibrant, as much as she urges her readers to not look away from their pain. In the tradition of her father and shamanic lineage, Marta too, serves as a kind of hollow bone, inviting us not just to read, but to linger, belly to belly, to taste, to share, to breathe.”

—Bianca Lynne Spriggs, Affrilachian Poet and author of Black Mermaid

“Intersectionality is a buzz-word these days, but Marta Miranda-Straub doesn’t just advocate for it: she embodies it. Originally from Cuba, she calls herself Cubalachian, having lived in the Kentucky mountains and allied with the Affrilachian poets. In Cradled by Skeletons, she articulates her experience as a queer woman of color, a feminist, an immigrant/ refugee, a social worker and worker for social justice. She speaks out for the voiceless, evoking ‘the communal spirit of justice/. . . el spirito de comunidad y justicia.’ Despite the horrors she has witnessed, her vision is hopeful, committed to change. When she names the current administration’s true agenda as ‘Make America White again,’ she jolts us with her clarity and courage.”

—George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2015-2016 and author of Many-Storied House

Additional information

Category:

Nonfiction, Memoir, Poetry

ISBN:

978-1-945049-14-9

Paperback:

$20.00

Publication Date:

November 2019

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