Multicultural - Diversity Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] Originally by Carol Ann Duffy

poetry friday

Myra here.

Friday is my favorite day of the week. Not only does it signal the start of the weekend, it is also a time to share poems that speak to us with the Poetry Friday community. Our host this week is the inspiring Margaret from Reflections on the Teche. Do head on to Margaret’s blog to discover and get to know like-minded individuals and share in the poetry goodness.


We have just recently launched our theme for March/April 2014 – Rainbow Colors of Diversity: Voices of the Silenced. 

As we are featuring books that deal with multicultural themes: celebration of diversity, the outliers, the immigrants (among other things), I was reminded of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem entitled Originally. She read this aloud during the Singapore Writers Festival November of last year. And naturally, I bought her book right after her session that was jampacked. There were even people queuing outside, waiting for the standing-room-only crowd to trickle out for a bit so they can urge the ushers to allow the first in line to squeeze in.


As per usual, I took a photograph of the book and edited it using an iPhone app. This poem spoke to me for various reasons – it resonated with my sensation of being neither here nor there – deliciously trapped in the in-between, sandwiched between two cultures. And it also reminded me that to some degree, we are all foreigners in strange, occasionally-surreal lands of our own making. Perhaps we are brought there through our own choice or by virtue of chance or circumstance. Yet as wanderers of the world, there is that singular desire – an insistent need to find a quiet space to call home.


Do let us know if you have poets or books in mind that would fit our theme quite nicely. We’re happy to take note of your recommendations.

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

12 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Originally by Carol Ann Duffy

  1. Myra, I glad you shared this poem today. Duffy will be appearing at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in early May–I can’t wait to hear her read.


  2. “All childhood is an emigration” — I like this line very much. Your intro reminded me of C.S. Lewis (“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”)


  3. That same line stood out for me too — “all childhood is an emigration.” But I also deeply identify with the stuck in between cultures sentiment in your introduction. I definitely need to read more of Duffy’s work!


  4. I wish I had time to read all of these poems you’re sharing, they look so good!


  5. Beautiful poem, Myra, and again, the childhood and emigration connection is wonderful. I also enjoyed the small tidbits of horror, like the eating of worms. And I love the poignancy of wanting to rush back to the “vacant rooms where we don’t live anymore.” My former home of so many years is still very vivid in my mind, and I yearn to see, to touch parts of it. Thanks Myra!


  6. maryleehahn

    I don’t think the emigration ends with childhood. And I’m not talking about the physical moving we do as we move through our adulthood, but the phases of aging, and that feeling of losing and finding our voices. Where are you from is a tricky question, indeed!


  7. Ooh ooh ooh Carol Ann Duffy ooh ooh ooh emigration
    and how it goes on, from a stage of life where you make a birthday cake based on Little Gorilla and an invitation that is a minibook to the stage where you ask your daughter, “What kind of cake mix should I get you for tomorrow?”

    Maybe that’s why we like to think, as Margaret’s student, that we come from words, which persist even when we change lanes or rivers or continents.


  8. margaretsmn

    The imagery in this poem is so strong. Swallowing a slug, and then the surprise of losing the original voice. Is this a good or bad thing? We all long for acceptance, yet at what cost? Thanks for sharing!


  9. I’ve been sitting here, for quite some time now, thinking about this poem and what it means to me. As a child, I felt like I did have a place in the world, but much less so now. Maybe that’s because I spent some time living overseas, maybe it’s because I have a culturally “mixed” family, maybe it’s just because I’ve moved around enough that I’ve grown accustomed to feeling like I’m always just visiting. So while I totally understand when people feel like they’re in limbo culturally, to some degree think the feeling of homelessness transcends culture. In any case, thanks for the food for thought.


  10. Pingback: [Poetry Friday] The Nakedness Of Woman – Gathering Books

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