Friday, June 10, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This

Muhammed Ali

By Gail Hennessy

you would not fight
those you did not hate
for those who hated you

and so …

you danced with words
like a caged bird
who knew how to sing

I'm sure everyone understands why I wanted to share this poem with you. Ali may have been a controversial figure once, but by the time of his recent death, and indeed long before, was greatly loved all over the world – a world which came to recognise him as a hero. This poem reminds us exactly why, and of his varied talents.

He too was a poet, remember. You think I exaggerate? Look again at his witty, tongue-in-cheek verses. They weren't meant to be literary, of course; they were meant to be fun, and memorable. But the way he put words together revealed a talent for it, even at his most insulting, and had something of the unexpected. Phrases such as the famous 'float like a butterfly, sting like a bee' are far above doggerel.

His greatest talent, of course, was for boxing. It's a sport I dislike, disapprove of, and don't watch – but I watched him. His exceptional grace and skill turned it into an art form. (The fact that he was so pretty – as he liked to remark – didn't hurt, either.)

The people of his home town, who knew him best and longest, attest to the fact that he was a clever and determined child and, above all, a good, kind man.

His qualities are conveyed with great economy and poignancy, encapsulating the essential, by this Australian poet who, I am pretty sure, never met him.

I have only just become acquainted with Gail Hennessy, as we are both participating this month at Project 366, a year-long blog featuring various Australian poets and artists, by invitation. She tells me, of herself:

I have been publishing my poetry since 1976 in newspapers, journals and anthologies. The most recent being A Slow Combusting Hymn edited by Jean Kent and Kit Kelen. My poem 'Finding the Words', highly commended by the Society of Women Writers, will be published in Ink3 and launched in November. I published a collection of new and previously published poems in Witnessing in 2010. Copies can be obtained from me through for $20 including postage.

(Overseas purchasers may have to double check whether postage is included for them.)

Reviewers of Witnessing say:

Gail Hennessy is a poet of deft statements, memorable distillations of experience that go far beyond the private to awaken reminiscences of enigmas worth reflecting on.


Poem after poem shares with the reader the emotional intensity of its experience and the effect is cumulative. To read them is indeed a rich and moving experience.

The full reviews may be read at Google Books. Unfortunately there is no ebook, but a number of her poems may be found online, here(I've saved you some Googling, by taking the first step.) And of course you can also find her poetry this month at Project 366 (see link above).

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. I wish I had written this, too. What a fine poet!

  2. essence of Ali is beautiful...thanks for the share Rosemary...

  3. An intriguing poem, and a wonderful poet. Thank you, Rosemary, for the feature. How wonderful that you are participating in Project 366. It sounds amazing!

  4. Excellent and timely post, Rosemary! I like reading poems by less well known poets, and choosing a poem about Ali was such a good choice.

  5. I agree this is such a timely post. Another Aussie poet! There is a very long line of them going way back to the days our individual states were all separate colonies!


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