“I have a dream…” Celebrating Black History Month.
Whose words have moved you to tears, to action, to love? Who has inspired you to write, to stand up and be counted, to find a voice or give a voice to others? Maybe it’s Maya Angelou, June Jordan or Alice Walker, Derek Walcott, Nelson Mandela or Kamau Brathwaite, Louise Bennett or Jean Binta Breeze or Langston Hughes or Martin Luther King? Join us on Thursday 29th October at our blog hop to share with us the black writers – poets, playwrights, social commentators, journalists – who mean the most to you.
To take part in our Blog Hop
- Email your name and blog link to us so that we can add it to our list. email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (The complete list will be posted up by 8pm (GMT) Wednesday 28th October)
- Copy the list to your own blog site
- Have your blog ready for 12pm (GMT) on Thursday, 29th October.
- Make sure people can add comments to your blog
- Go to as many people on the blog hop list as possible and leave comments (please remember to be constructive, positive and supportive – we’re all sharing something that means a lot to us.)
- Spread the word – let your friends, family, web-buddies know that they can join in too and help us celebrate! Please use the hashtag #IhaveadreamBloghop2015
- Enjoy yourself!
Our Blog Hoppers for 2015 are:
Jacqueline Gabbitas – http://www.jacquelinegabbitas.net/
Last year’s Blog Hoppers were:
Carol Leeming – http://choreopoems.blogspot.co.uk/
Martin Parker – http://www.silbercow.co.uk/deep-soul-doris-duke/
Trevor Wright – TheRaggedlycradphilanthropist.Wordpress.com
Jacqueline Gabbitas from Writing East Midlands writes about American poet June Jordan.
We were talking during the break about poetry and politics and autobiography. I’m a bit of a poetry-hoover – if I hear about a new and interesting poet I’ll tend to find out more. Marilyn told me about June’s book Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood and it’s through this book that I know her best. It’s a memoir about her life growing up in New York during the 60s. A memoir about personal rights – the human rights of a child (why do we think a child’s rights, and how we treat him or her, are so different from adults? – there’s a moving and disturbing section in Soldier about June and her father and his ideas about her studies (which you can read on the Poetry Foundation’s website). And it’s about civil rights.
June Jordan was an activist poet, unafraid to speak out and up. Her poems are spacious, they take in a vast geography and emotional landscape, even when they’re looking at the smallest act – here’s an extract from the poem ‘It’s Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean’ which on the surface is about a puppy jumping up on a man’s white shirt, making it dirty with paw prints. The shirt is then washed:
And what’s anyone of us to do
about what’s done
I say I’ll wash the shirt
two times through
the delicate blue cycle
of an old machine
the shirt spins in the soapy
suds and spins in rinse
and spins out dry
still marked by accidents
by energy of whatever serious or trifling cause
the shirt stays dirty
from that puppy’s paws
I take that fine white shirt
the threads as soft as baby
fingers weaving them
and I wash that shirt
between the knuckles of my own
I scrub and rub that shirt
to take the dirty
The poem is much longer than this and I’m not giving a close reading of it, but I want to show how it travels – June Jordan had a mind and imagination borne out of experience that wasn’t confined to the act of the experience, that allowed itself (and me as a reader) to travel out and see where, like a sycamore spinner, it would land. It’s been a while since I read Soldier, and writing this now, I’m going to read it again. And June’s poems. The world we live in, I suspect, still needs them.
Poem Extract from ‘It’s Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean’ in Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)