Category Archives: Poetry

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Learning to Read”

Very soon the Yankee teachers
   Came down and set up school;
But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,—
   It was agin’ their rule.
Our masters always tried to hide
   Book learning from our eyes;
Knowledge did’nt agree with slavery—
   ’Twould make us all too wise.
But some of us would try to steal
   A little from the book.
And put the words together,
   And learn by hook or crook.
I remember Uncle Caldwell,
   Who took pot liquor fat
And greased the pages of his book,
   And hid it in his hat.
And had his master ever seen
   The leaves upon his head,
He’d have thought them greasy papers,
   But nothing to be read.
And there was Mr. Turner’s Ben,
   Who heard the children spell,
And picked the words right up by heart,
   And learned to read ’em well.
Well, the Northern folks kept sending
   The Yankee teachers down;
And they stood right up and helped us,
   Though Rebs did sneer and frown.
And I longed to read my Bible,
   For precious words it said;
But when I begun to learn it,
   Folks just shook their heads,
And said there is no use trying,
   Oh! Chloe, you’re too late;
But as I was rising sixty,
   I had no time to wait.
So I got a pair of glasses,
   And straight to work I went,
And never stopped till I could read
   The hymns and Testament.
Then I got a little cabin
   A place to call my own—
And I felt independent
   As the queen upon her throne.
A lesson plan for this poem can be found here.

Failing and Flying – Jack Gilbert

Failing and Flying – Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

On Receiving News of the War By Isaac Rosenberg 1914

Snow is a strange white word;
No ice or frost
Have asked of bud or bird
For Winter’s cost.
Yet ice and frost and snow
From earth to sky
This Summer land doth know,
No man knows why.
In all men’s hearts it is.
Some spirit old
Hath turned with malign kiss
Our lives to mould.
Red fangs have torn His face.
God’s blood is shed.
He mourns from His lone place
His children dead.
O! ancient crimson curse!
Corrode, consume.
Give back this universe
Its pristine bloom.

The Women By J. Mae Barizo

It’s been a while since I shared a poem – but I loved this one:
photo of a toast

Photo by on

An evening of expected rain. Out the window clouds lifted
their skirts and the wind poured in. We were the mothers
lingering over the dessert tray, placing the sweets in our
mouths, one by one. We were the soothers and givers,
keepers of children and men. Those days, our skin bunched
up at the bra line, eyelids gathering like crinoline as it folds.
Yet standing there at the table, there was nothing in the world
we were in want of, not even the loves that had escaped us.
Whatever we suffered, we let go of willingly. To know we
were not the same women as before did not pain us. When
the others spoke their voices swept over us like bees hovering
over lilacs. Outside, lights strobed over the Hudson; we watched
a white boat riding the crest of a wave, headed to sea. We
felt an ache we realized was happiness, almost unbearable.
Find more information here.

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

One Art By Elizabeth Bishop captured me and entranced me, especially with this stanza:

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
Please read the entire of the poem by clicking on the title link. It is amazing.







Australian Poetry Library

fire and ice by robert frost

Photo by Ayat Zaheer on

Thousands of poems by great Australian poets all here.  Teaching resources are also available.

Reading Book Challenge 2019 the update

So I posted here about developing a reading book challenge for myself. I’d like to post where I am up to with it, and see how far I’ve actually progressed…..

  1. A Book Published in 2019 – Not yet accomplished
  2. A Book You Own But Never Read – I’m in the process of reading a book I have owned for years on Urban Legends, but just never read…..Work in progress
  3. A Classic – so I read My People by Oodgeroo Noonuccal –  an amazing collection of poetry. Completed. 
  4. A Book Written by an Australian/New Zealand Author- Calypso Summer by Jared Thomas – awesome page turning YA romance featuring a rocking Nukunu lead character. Completed!
  5. A Non-Fiction Book – Gluten Free and Vegan Pie by Jennifer Katzinger. Completed!
  6. An LGBT+ Romance – oooh I will find one…..there are so many great ones to choose from.
  7. A Book with the Protagonist that Shares Your Occupation – Anyone know a good book about a Librarian?
  8. A Book That Has Been Made Into a Movie – do Graphic Novels count???
  9. A Romance Novel With Diverse Lead Characters – I’ll be chasing up suggestions for this one too..
  10. The Bestseller of Your Birth Year – hmm I’ll need to look this up.
  11. A Translated Romance Novel – I’ll track something down…
  12. A Historical Romance Set in Ancient Times – again I’ll need to look for this one….
  13. A Book of Short Stories – oh gosh I think I might have something sitting on table that may be appropriate!
  14. A Book Someone Gave You/Recommended – this one was easy Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey – devoured it in a day. Completed! 
  15. A Book You Chose Based on the Cover Alone – that would have to be Zenobia by Morten Durr. Completed!
  16. A book of free verse or poetry – well I’m loving Oodgeroo so maybe some more of her work?
  17. Banned Novel – ooh what to choose? Any suggestions?
  18. A Book You Started and Never Finished – The Giant Book of New World SF edited by Issac Asimov – started a few years ago and haven’t finished it but it’s a WIP.
  19. A Book You Can Read in One Sitting – a great book by Renee Fogorty called Fair Skin Black Fella – a great book with a great meaning. Should be in every school library. Completed!

So 6 completed, and I’m in February…..seriously if you have suggestions I would love to hear from you about them.

just cause she’s June Jordan

via just cause she’s June Jordan

Poetry is a political act, and we’d better not forget it!

Book Reading Challenge 2019

I got this idea from the 2019 Book Resolutions Reading Challenge at, then decided I needed to modify it for my own purposes and reading style. I’m going to report back on how well I have achieved this as the year progresses….so stay tuned!

  1. A Book Published in 2019
  2. A Book You Own But Never Read
  3. A Classic
  4. A Book Written by an Australian/New Zealand Author
  5. A Non-Fiction Book
  6. An LGBT+ Romance
  7. A Book with the Protagonist that Shares Your Occupation
  8. A Book That Has Been Made Into a Movie
  9. A Romance Novel With Diverse Lead Characters
  10. The Bestseller of Your Birth Year
  11. A Translated Romance Novel
  12. A Historical Romance Set in Ancient Times
  13. A Book of Short Stories
  14. A Book Someone Gave You/Recommended
  15. A Book You Chose Based on the Cover Alone
  16. A book of free verse or poetry
  17. Banned Novel
  18. A Book You Started and Never Finished
  19. A Book You Can Read in One Sitting

Do you want to join me? If so please leave a comment below and we can bookclub our way through this list!

The right kind of woman- Suffragettes and beyond

A great piece from Bridget Minamore – 100 Years of Conversation

“So many of the tensions we’ve had in the feminist movement are repeats of the tensions women have had in the past, but unfortunately, we’re yet to find real solutions. Working class women (and the inequality they face specifically because they are both women and working class) have historically been rejected by the middle-class women who tend to position themselves at the front of the feminist movement. It was amazing to me to see the parallels between working-class women who left Suffrage organisations in the early 1900s because they felt like they were being ignored and the women of today who say similar.

I mostly wanted to write the piece because of how frustrated I’ve felt (as both a woman and a very loud, proud feminist), with the feminists of both the past and the present, as well as myself. Saying that I’m quietly hoping that I won’t feel as frustrated with the feminists of the future.”

As a working class woman – I would have been left behind a 100 years past. My Mum whose education was two years at primary school was certainly left behind. How can we make feminism more inclusive?


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