Reaching the Stars
In this year of celebration of the Suffragette movement, Macmillan Children’s Books are publishing Reaching the Stars – a collection of new poems celebrating extraordinary women and girls.
The poets Jan Dean & Liz Brownlee and of course – Michaela Morgan – all have stories to tell. Their own lives are fascinating but here they focus on stories of women and girls – some famous, some anonymous, some individual, some representative, some historic, some mythic.
All inspiring. Awe inspiring.
Here are two poems from the book:
Malala Yousafzai, born 12 July 1997, is a Pakistani activist known mainly for her defence of human rights and education for girls. On the afternoon of 9 October 2012, Malala boarded her school bus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. A gunman asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots into her head. She survived, recovered, and continues her fight for rights. She is now the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
A girl with a book.
A girl with a book.
That’s what has scared them –
A girl, with a book.
They get onto the bus.
They call out my name.
They aim. And they fire.
A shot to the brain.
Because a girl with a book,
A girl with a voice,
A girl with a brain,
A girl with a choice,
A girl with a plan
To have rights, like a man.
That’s what they’re scared of,
One girl, with a book.
A girl who has words.
A girl with a pen.
A girl to be heard
With support of her friends
Who want to live free –
That’s what they fear,
A girl just like me.
My First Day at School
14 November 1960. New Orleans, USA. Ruby Bridges, aged six, is the first black child to enter an all-white elementary school. She was escorted in by armed guards as protesters shout abuse at her.
I remember . . .
Momma scrubbed my face, hard.
Plaited my hair, tight.
Perched a hopeful white bow on my head,
Like a butterfly hoping for flight.
She shone my shoes, black, shiny, neat.
Another hopeful bow, on each toe,
To give wings to my feet.
My dress was standing to attention, stiff with starch.
My little battledress.
And now, my march.
Two marshals march in front of me.
Two marshals march behind of me.
The people scream and jeer at me.
Their faces are red, not white.
The marshals tower above me, a grey-legged wall.
Broad of back, white of face and tall, tall, tall.
I only see their legs and shoes, as black and shiny as mine.
They march along, stern and strong. I try to march in time.
One hisses to another, ‘Slow down it ain’t a race.
She only take little bitty girlie steps.’
I quicken my pace.
I march into school.
To learn like any other kid can.
And maybe to teach a lesson too.