These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Purple Threads

Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane
University of Queensland Press. 2011.
Winner of the David Unaipon Award.
David Unaipon (1872-1967) was the first indigenous writer to be published in Australia in 1929.

 of women and dogs
in the flood prone world of Gundagai

of living in a ramshackle hut
graced with a tin roof
ideal for hearing the sound of rain

of living with aunts and a nan and a sister Star
while Mum Petal tastes the colours of other worlds

of living with sheep and wildflowers

of knowing too much about worldly discords
and the unprovoked abuse of a neighbour

of loving the Aboriginal niche of my childhood
though the civilised may never understand

I was born in the purpleness of October

I am Sunshine
You can call me Sunny

Linking to:
Imaginary Garden With Real Toads - Open Link Monday

Purple ThreadsPurple Threads by Jeanine Leane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Layers of stories tumble from the worlds of a ragged home in Gundagai in southern New South Wales. A young girl is buffeted between stories from past and present worlds - her aunts' versions. But she is intrigued. She loves her different world, close to the music and moods of the earth. Only humans strike the wrong chords, but the other music plays in the background. Her purple threads - the earth colours of an Australian October, her birth season - keep her connected. Sunny is an Aboriginal girl being what she can be. The narrative becomes a series of many cameos of Sunny's world and those with her through the seasons.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Refugee Boy

Refugee Boy - Benjamin Zephaniah
Bloomsbury Publishing 2001

I'm Ethiopian
  I'm Eritrean
  I am cursed
  I walk the line

like a lonely piece of flotsam
  in a sea of coloured skins
  I bob around east London

Sheila, Pamela and Mariam
  foreign faces 
  become my guides

I'm African
  I'm a refugee
  I'm uneducated
  I walk the line

a family moors my life
  my small room means a large view
  and Ruth becomes my sister

I'm African
  I'm just a teenage boy
  I want to learn
  I walk the line

I find friends I did not know were friends
  young friends
  school friends
  willing to march for freedom
  willing to walk my line

I am Alem
  I want to give
  I want to be 
  a light

without the line

Linking to:
Poets United ~ Poetry Pantry

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perhaps this book disappoints- not outlining the tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia, not fully exploring and explaining the work of young Alem's parents, but the book is about the boy; the boy finding his own journey and his own rite of passage. We feel the incredible confusions he must feel - an alien culture and climate, a Refugee Council, a foster family, a new school and the whole disturbing, temporary arrangement of it all. And in the midst of all this darkness, appear some rather special miracles. Young people dare to face and challenge legal strongholds. An apparently indifferent girl becomes his sister. This book bridges and casts a rainbow over the many tragic chasms in our world.

View all my reviews + My liberation haiku, inspired by this book, is posted on my Haiku Songlines blog.

This story became a play - BBC Review 14th March 2013
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