#SurvivalStories2021 Adult Books Lifespan of a Reader Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] Poetry Celebrating Social Justice Activists

"How will you discover your gifts? How will you give them a voice?" - George Ella Lyon

Myra here.

Thank you to Catherine at Reading To The Core for hosting this week.

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Voices Of Justice: Poems About People Working For A Better World (Amazon | Book Depository)

Poetry by George Ella Lyon Illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter
Published by Henry Holt & Company (2020)
ISBN: 9781250263209 (ISBN10: 1250263204) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Our annual reading theme has to do with survival, courage, and the refusal to be erased and silenced. This collection of poems features individuals who stood for something and who rallied people around them to transform the world to a more humane, safer space for its diverse peoples and creatures.

I am only beginning to familiarize myself with the work of James Baldwin, and seeing his voice featured here makes me feel the urgency even more. I was also deeply heartened to see how his work is celebrated in my daughter’s university, especially when we had the campus tour before she moved in. See below photo I have taken of Seattle University’s library:

There is a huge range of activists featured in this book: from The Women of Greenham Common to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Alexya Salvador from Brazil.

Evidently, there were efforts made by the book creators to not just make this collection US-centric, which I appreciated greatly. That being said, there is still limited representation of activists coming from Southeast Asia or the Middle East. As a researcher, I always ask myself questions like: what the criteria for inclusion had been in this collection of poems, given the many activists around the world who strive the world to make a better place. I believe there were also attempts to balance the collection such that there were familiar names (Virginia Woolf and Jane Goodall for example) while featuring lesser known ones (such as Jasilyn Charger and Chiune Sugihara).

The overall design and layout of the book had been thoughtfully considered and reveal the time and effort that had been invested in this collection. It is a much-needed resource that I hope would reach an international audience, especially young readers.

For my Poetry Friday offering, I am sharing an excerpt here from the last poem found in this collection which offers both a challenge and a promise (I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app):

How will you

discover your gifts?

How will you

give them a voice?

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).

3 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Poetry Celebrating Social Justice Activists

  1. I love Baldwin’s quote at the Seattle University’s library. Words to live by and a great book to check out. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haitiruth

    This looks like a wonderful book! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for introducing this incredible book to me, Myra. George Ella Lyon’s final words are so inspiring! I can’t wait to share them with students. And my town library’s book club is reading James Baldwin this month, so I’ll share his quote and the poem about him with them.

    Liked by 1 person

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