“Refugee Blues” [National Poetry Month]

April 15, 2022

“Refugee Blues” by W.H. Auden (1939)

Refugee Blues (image: a small girl sits on a box in a homeless or refugee camp)

Image Source: Canva

For #NationalPoetryMonth I am sharing one poem a week and spotlighting authors. I hesitate to copy the poem in this post because I do not want to break copyright laws, so I’ll link to it and hopefully you’ll click over and we can discuss it back here!

Honestly, I don’t read a great deal of poetry. My favorite form of poetry is a free verse novel (a full post on that coming later this month)….is that cheating? I’m looking forward to selected poetry in April so I can discover some new favorite poems and authors.

“Refugee Blues”

When I came across this poem (written in 1939), I couldn’t help but be struck by its tragic timeliness. As we watch the world news (war against Ukraine) and see refugee faces, I hope each of you have found a way to give to the relief efforts in a way that makes sense to you. I know the missionary organization I support is grateful for the solidarity of our prayers and for financial gifts. To help the refugee and the most innocent and fragile among us is our greatest calling.

I think you migh appreciate this poignant poem by Auden and it’s unique structure.

Read “Refugee Blues” by W. H. Auden

From the annotations: “In this poem Auden uses as a template the blues tradition, which developed in Black communities in the United States and has its origins in slave songs. Though composed through improvisation, the blues has a rigid pattern and strong use of repetition.

Auden applies this format to the plight of Jews in Europe at the time of the Nazi persecution in the 1930s and the difficulties and indifference they faced when seeking asylum. In setting the poem to the template of a blues song Auden could be drawing an analogy; both people have suffered.

Structure
The poem comprises three lined stanzas known as tercets. The first two lines of each stanza rhyme. The third line of each stanza is divided into two sections, internally rhymed, but separated by the refrain ‘my dear’. This works like the repeating chorus of a song.” ~Source

Hear “Refugee Blues” here.

  • OK….what did you think?
  • Were you able to relate to this poem in some way?
  • Have you read other poems by Auden?

Related: Books I’ve reviewed with Refugee themes: Refugee by Alan Gratz, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (scroll down page), Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga, The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, and The Boat People by Sharon Bala.

Meet the Author, W.H. Auden

Poet W.H. AudenWystan Hugh Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was a British-American poet. Auden’s poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement.

He was born in York and grew up in and near Birmingham in a professional middle-class family. He attended various English independent (or public) schools and studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. After a few months in Berlin in 1928–29, he spent five years (1930–35) teaching in British private preparatory schools, then travelled to Iceland and China to write books about his journeys.

In 1939, he moved to the United States and became an American citizen in 1946, retaining his British citizenship. He taught from 1941 to 1945 in American universities, followed by occasional visiting professorships in the 1950s. From 1947 to 1957 he wintered in New York and summered in Ischia; from 1958 until the end of his life he wintered in New York (in Oxford in 1972–73) and summered in Kirchstetten, Lower Austria.



QOTD:

Do you read poetry?
Do you have a favorite poem?



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The Beekeeper of Aleppo [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 2, 2021

The Beekeeper of Aleppo
#throwbackthursday

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (cover) Image: black text over a background of gold sketches of leaves, blossoms, and bees

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Family Life, Refugee Crisis, Syria

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a poignant refugee story, The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra, an artist, live happily with their son in beautiful Aleppo. They enjoy a quiet and peaceful life and value the friendship of close friends and extended family. Suddenly, their lives are turned upside down by war and, out of desperation, they make a decision to flee Syria. What Afra has experienced and seen causes her to go blind, complicating their journey through Turkey and Greece to get to Britain. On this risky and uncertain journey, they must learn to survive in unpredictable situations, to deal with their loss, to trust each other, to depend on the kindness and compassion of strangers, and to keep their hope alive.”

A compelling story of love, loss, hope, and compassion…

Continue here for my full review of The Beekeeper of Aleppo…



QOTD:

Have you read The Beekeeper of Aleppo or is it on your TBR?

 

Other Words For Home [Book Review]

September 10, 2021

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga (cover) Image: the profile of a young Syrian girl in a head scarf

Genre/Categories/Setting: Middle Grade+, Contemporary Fiction, Syria (and U.S.), Refugee, Coming of Age, Novel in Free Verse, Diverse Reads

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Because of instability in Syria, Jude and her mother leave her father and older brother to live with relatives in America (Cincinnati). Even though Jude has learned some English, she is unprepared for life in an American family, starting school in the U.S,. and her new label as “Middle Eastern.” Jude makes the best of some difficult situations and is suprised to make a new friend. Ultimately, she summons all her bravery and tries out for the school musical.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Boat People [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 3, 2020

The Boat People by Sharon Bala
#throwbackthursday

the Boat People by Sharon Bala (cover) Image: a man holds a young boys hand and stands on the beach looking out over the ocean

Genre/Categories:Historical Fiction, Refugee Crisis, Canada, Legal, Cultural Heritage, Sri Lanka, Family Life

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m thrilled to share my review of the compelling The Boat People….a refugee crisis.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Do Refugees Pose a Risk?
“This is the urgent question that faces Canadian officials when a rusty cargo ship carrying five hundred refugees from Sri Lanka appears on Vancouver’s shores. As the “boat people” are thrown into a detention center, rumors circulate that terrorists might be posing as refugees and could create a threat to Canada’s national security. This complex, compelling, and heartfelt story, loosely based on true events from 2010, is told fairly from three perspectives: Mahindan (a refugee), Priya (a lawyer and second generation Sri Lankan Canadian), and Grace (an adjudicator and third generation Japanese Canadian).”

Relevant, compelling, compassionate, and fair.

Continue here for my full review of the Boat People ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Boat People or is it on your TBR?



Refugees in Canada arriving by boat

Photo Source

Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter [Book Review]

September 15, 2020

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao (cover) Image: a mom holding a young girl

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Refugee, Vietnamese American, Vietnam War, Mother/Daughter

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #Netgalley #PenguinBooks @FSBassociates @AnnaSacca for a complimentary e ARC of #FamilyinSixTones for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Lan Cao escaped Viet Nam (and the Vietnam War) as a refugee when she was a child. The sacrificial love of her parents and the hopes they had for her future caused them to put her on a plane alone to travel to America to live with a distant relative. Leaving Viet Nam was traumatic and adjusting to a new family and culture added to the trauma, especially since she thought she was going on a brief vacation. Lan endures extreme culture shock (it’s especially sad that she can’t figure out how to open her milk carton at lunch), completes school, becomes a lawyer, marries, and has a child. Her daughter, Harlan, navigates two cultures and rails against her mom’s overprotectiveness. In this memoir, we hear both perspectives. As we understand that Lan’s fearfulness for her daughter is the result of her own childhood trauma, we also sympathize with Harlan and her need to fit into her American culture and be allowed some freedom. This is an “own voices” story of loss, trauma, a mother/daughter relationship, and the refugee experience.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Beekeeper of Aleppo [Book Review]

December 5, 2019

 The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo Review.jpg

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family Life, Refugees, Syria

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

A compelling story of love, loss, hope, and compassion…

Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra, an artist, live happily with their son in beautiful Aleppo. They enjoy a quiet and peaceful life and value the friendship of close friends and extended family. Suddenly, their lives are turned upside down by war and, out of desperation, they make a decision to flee Syria. What Afra has experienced and seen causes her to go blind, complicating their journey through Turkey and Greece to get to Britain. On this risky and uncertain journey, they must learn to survive in unpredictable situations, to deal with their loss, to trust each other, to depend on the kindness and compassion of strangers, and to keep their hope alive.

Syria Conflict: What’s Happening in Aleppo

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

(more…)