2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Documentary Now Available To Stream

Close

October 9 is the first anniversary of the grim day that masked gunmen stormed onto a bus in Pakistan and shot a child in the head. Their motive was political: She had defied them publicly, having the temerity to insist that girls be allowed to attend school.

The world now knows her mellifluous name – Malala – and many were heartened by her medical recovery, capped July 12 when she addressed the United Nations. “One child,” she said, “one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

At least one cohort of adults believes her. A collection of poets has rallied to contribute to “Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai,” edited by Joseph Hutchinson and Andrea L. Watson. Its publication coincides with this first anniversary, and its proceeds go to the Malala Fund.

“This anthology is evidence that some poets still dare to respond to what’s happening in the larger world, and we believe they are making a significant contribution in doing so,” Hutchinson writes in the foreword. Meanwhile, speculation builds that the girl may win the Nobel Peace Prize this October.

For the moment, though, sixty writers from around the world stand with Malala. Kathleen Cerveny, poet laureate of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and the director of arts initiatives at the Cleveland Foundation, made the cut. Here, in its entirety, is her villanelle, “At Fourteen”:

Who was I at fourteen? Who were you?

Diverted from the real by lives of ease,

could we have stood up, then, and claimed our due

as humans growing hungry for the new

excitement of the mind – things never seen?

Who was I at fourteen? Who were you?

A girl has stood against her world. She drew

the fire of those who guard what’s always been

and stood steadfast against them, claimed her due.

Her courage is a brush that paints a view

of human worlds more worthy – rarely seen

by coddled ones, like me, like you.

The cowards’ bullets aimed to silence truth;

pierce brain and tongue – still both thought and speech.

She fell, but has not failed to claim her due.

And has the gift for rights now been renewed

by blood, the hunger of one child to learn?

This girl of fourteen shames both me and you

If we don’t stand – demand what we all are due.

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban last fall for being a vocal advocate for girls education, is releasing a memoir, due to hit bookshelves almost one full year after the brazen attempt on her life. The title is “I am Malala.”

“I hope the book will reach people around the world, so they realize how difficult it is for some children to get access to education,” Malala said in a prepared statement. “I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education.”

Malala was shot October 9, 2012, as she left school in northwestern Pakistan. The 15-year-old was taken to London for treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she underwent several reconstruction surgeries and countless hours of treatments. She was released from the hospital February 8, with doctors reporting she had made “excellent progress” with her recovery. Malala pledged to continue to stand up for the millions of girls who seek an opportunity to go to school.

A few weeks ago, we profiled a new film, “Girl Rising,” which explores the lives of nine young women around the world, each one fighting to be educated. (Our 2005 winner for fiction, Edwidge Danticat, wrote the story of Wadley, the young Haitian girl who would not accept “Stay home” for an answer.)

Lucky for Clevelanders, the film will be premiering at Cleveland Film Festival. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to catch one of the screenings for “Girl Rising,” on April 8 or 9. See the trailer for the film below:

Below, watch a short video of Malala from 2009 and 2011 where she talks about hiding her school attendance from Taliban leaders: