#ReadIntl2020 Adult Books Lifespan of a Reader Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

[Poetry Friday] The Struggle Continues

Devorah Major's "On Continuing To Struggle"

Myra here.

Thank you to Wee Words for Wee Ones for hosting this week.

We have just launched our new reading theme that highlights human rights issues and social justice or “Voices From The Fringe.” I figured that this is as perfect time as any to feature this book that has been languishing in my bookshelves for quite awhile now.

Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till To Trayvon Martin (Amazon | Book Depository)

Edited and Compiled by: Philip Cushway and Michael Warr
Published by W. W. Norton Company (2016)
ISBN: 0393352730 (ISBN13: 9780393352733). Bought a copy of the book. Book photo taken by me and edited using an iPhone app.

While I confess to not having read the entire book yet, I am definitely marking this on my to-read list for our quarterly reading theme. While there are plenty of poets to choose from, I deliberately searched for a poem written by a female poet of color, Devorah Major. She described her childhood to be one that is surrounded by books and writers and artists (her father being a lover of words and her mother a painter):

I was brought up in a home of activism, raised to know that the quality of people rested in the way they treated other people, the way they treated themselves, and that allowing anything less than freedom and dignity for everyone was accepting the underside of what was human but not humane.

Devorah Major wrote this poem for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner who has been on Death Row since 1982 for the alleged murder of a Philadelphia policeman in 1981.

I highlighted this part that spoke to me most of all: it is filled with righteous anger, yes, but also hope – and the recognition that the struggle is never-ending, and that we surge forward regardless.

As I was drafting this post, I realized that Fats actually featured this same poem from this same book back in 2019 for Poetry Friday. What are the chances? Clearly Devorah Major speaks to our collective female spirit.

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).

11 comments on “[Poetry Friday] The Struggle Continues

  1. michaelwarrtrm

    Hi Myra,

    I just submitted a message that looks like it disappeared. Before I rewrite it can you let me know if you received it? — Michael Warr


  2. Thank you for highlighting this book and Devorah Major’s poem, Myra. You’re right, you can feel her anger, but also her hope. Too funny that Fats shared the same poem last year – great minds think alike…and reflective of the fact that we have a long way to go in our fight for social justice. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh the anger! So very well expressed! Such a powerful poem – thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a poignant poem. Yes, angry and also so hopeful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. laurashovan222

    This is a powerful poem and reminds me that poetry is a form of activism. Thanks, Myra.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is about your kindred spirit, yours and Fats, Myra that highlighted this powerful poem, yes, angry, but “keep on truckin'” they will! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Social justice is such an important issue in the world today.This is a poem of frustrated feelings and a poem of hope. Will we get to a more balanced place in the world???

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like a very timely book! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  9. From the names in the subtitle to the verse on the page, these words echo in my mind: righteous anger. I so admire how Major writes this poem about poems to write, determined not to waste time and energy but to channel creative power into “birthing new freedoms.” That the heart still wants to sing “praises of celebration/not through morning” – that’s a profound triumph of the human spirit.

    I will read this book – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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