Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Literacy

"Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope." ~Kofi Annan

International Literacy Day is 8 September 8th.  Media: Djibril Kebe, UNESCO Media Section,
"This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide to promote literacy as part of the right to education, as well as a foundation for individuals' empowerment and inclusive and sustainable development. . . . On the occasion of International Literacy Day 2019, the main characteristics of multilingualism in today’s globalized and digitalized world will be discussed, together with their implications for literacy in policies and practice in order to achieve greater inclusion in multilingual contexts. "

"Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." ~Malala Yousafzi


 Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path." ~Carl Sagan 

Midweek Motif ~ Literacy  

          I don't remember learning to read.  How did that happen?  I remember trying to learn to read German and Spanish and achieving only minimum success.  It was harder than I had imagined to look at unfamiliar combinations of letters representing sounds and derive meaning from them.  
          And now I volunteer tutor for an adult literacy program.  My student is from the Ivory Coast.  French is the first of the 5 languages he knows, but he needs to read and write and speak in English to pass the USA naturalization test. English is not easy.  And gaining literacy is even more difficult if early education doesn't include the experience of reading.  
        Where does your life intersect with issues of literacy?

Your Challenge: Address the flowering of literacy ~ one instance/element of how it is an entry ticket or a barrier ~ in your new poem. 
like a book

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –

Notes on the Art of Poetry
by Dylan Thomas

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,, ,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.


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

"I would give my husband drawings for grocery lists,
with smiling faces on the eggs, and spider feet
dangling everywhere. I could draw letters too.
fat senseless alphabets, lexical landscapes of
pointed trees and bloated clouds. that is how I
wished words were, with changing colours and
feathers in their spines. on road signs in my
dreams, they shimmied, their Rockette heels a
variegated sunburst. unlike the stiff black
knots and stakes that glared at me from envelopes
and books. . . . 
Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
(Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Looking at Stars)


  1. How I love that Dylan Thomas poem!!! Thank you for an inspiring prompt Susan.

  2. Good morning, Sumana, and everyone at Poets United! I slept late, but now, coffee in hand, I'm linking my raw poem and coming around to feast on your writing. Poetry is one of the benefits of literacy!

  3. Love your choice of poems. Enjoyed this prompt. Thank you.

  4. This prompt will make for some interesting reading! Thanks, Susan.

  5. Poetry indeed is a benefit of reading. I read early in life but writing was mostly late. The prompt is appropriate for "The Day". I haven't been yet but ours will likely celebrate around Sunday but be closed that day.

  6. Oops there seems to be a problem with Rall # 2 ...apologies.


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