[Poetry Friday] “Unfurling People” by Elizabeth Acevedo

Myra here.

Thank you to Carol at Carol’s Corner for hosting this week.


Woke: A Young Poet’s Call To Justice [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III Foreword by Jason Reynolds
Published by Roaring Brook Press (2020).
ISBN: 9781250311207 (ISBN10: 1250311209) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I have been meaning to read this poetry picturebook for awhile now and was delighted to see it on Overdrive. Jason Reynolds provided his stamp of approval in the Foreword, indicating how absolutely imperative it is for more young people to be more aware of what is going on in the world around them.

It was especially instructive for me to read about the history of the word woke in Mahogany L. Browne’s Introduction – especially since the word is currently being bandied around by millennials as a supposed ideal. There is also an acknowledgment of how the poems in this collection came about:

The poems in this collection come from three women writers with varied perspectives of justice. These poems serve both as instruction manuals and anthems, as literary heartbeats and blueprints of survival for young people everywhere. The ideas they tackle are layered and nuanced, but the message is simple: Don’t sleep.

I appreciated how all the poems are written by women of color who have been historically silenced and marginalized. The poems tackle important themes on activism, ableism, intersectionality, resistance, silencing, stereotyping – among others.

For today’s Poetry Friday offering, I found a poem that fits our current reading theme on migrants perfectly: “Unfurling People” by Elizabeth Acevedo.


I cannot help but wonder, though, how the tone and the message would have been slightly more varied if there were also women poets coming from Asian ethnicity. The voice of justice here is one that puts a premium on talking back and confrontation – which is not necessarily the only voice that there is in our multifaceted world riddled with complexity, and thereby not the only manual or anthem that exists out there. Sounds like a book project in the making!

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 63 out of target 100

June 11, 2021 at 06:31AM Myra Garces-Bacsal