Tag Archives: Billy Bragg

Oh, the Audacity

19 Jan

I’ve spent a lot of time this long weekend doing book committee work. To give myself a break from the “must reads”, I picked up this novel in verse, Audacity by Melanie Crowder.


It is inspired the real life story of Clara Lemlich who worked to improve the working conditions  in the factories on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I’ve written recently about my love for novels in verse and this one meets my expectations. This is not a happy story and the verse form helps lighten the darkness of the situation. Clara defies her family and society to do what she knows is right. Not a bad thing to read on MLK day, is it!

And the writing is beautiful. Crowder uses  beautiful imagery and percussive language to create an achingly beautiful novel.

Younger readers can learn about Clara Lemlich’s work in  Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel.


Thinking about union activities gets me thinking about Billy Bragg, my favorite leftist singer. Here are two of my BB faves.



May Day May Day

1 May

Mayday, the call for distress, probably came from the french “m’aidez” (pronounced meyday).

May Day is a traditional Spring holiday in many places and International Workers’ Day. Here’s my favorite socialist singer, illy Bragg, singing the Internationale

Reality hasn’t quite worked out the way the song hoped, but isn’t that true for so many songs.

To make this bookish, and also a last hurrah for poetry month, let me tell you about Margarita Engle’s newest novel in verse.


Silver People tells the story of the building of the Panama Canal. Told from several points of view, the two main characters of Mateo and Henry represent how each class is treated differently,  while local girl Anita watches her beloved forest being bulldozed and destroyed. For only a few coins a day, teenagers Mateo and Henry endure homesickness, backbreaking labour, ferocious heat, landslides, and disease to dig through the mountain with little more than a shovel. Thousands around them lose their lives, while displaced souls like local herb girl Anita, and the endangered rainforest itself, do what they can to survive. 

Another really worthwhile read from Margarita Engle. I’m reading this while I proctor state testing.

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