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Maureen K Clifford
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Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:31 am
Location: Ipswich - Paul Pisasale country and home of the Ipswich Poetry Feast


Post by Maureen K Clifford » Mon Oct 10, 2022 12:33 pm

A recent poem that I posted on the Australian Rhyming Poets page by one of our most esteemed writers Judith Wright, was blocked by FB due to the use of the 'N" word in the title of the poem - 'Nigger's Leap' - a word that whilst today is unacceptable, was in common use at the time of writing. I explained in the original post why it was used, and suggested that if it offend anyone they scroll on by. There was no intention to offend – it was the terminology of the time. Judith Arundel Wright was a prolific Australian poet, critic, and short-story writer, who published more than 50 books.

Regardless of that comment either someone complained about it or it may just have been an automatic FB response but a 3 day ban was imposed across ALL of my FB sites. I have tried to appeal the decision which FB themselves ask us to do if we disagree, however FB will not accept the reason I have given - ''Try again at another time" it tells me, but that other time never seems to materialize. :roll:

Our history which has always been documented by poets across the centuries has never been squeaky clean nor politically correct ever. You cannot sanitize history by refusing to allow it to be shown, by removing statues, destroying books and documentation. That word was relevant to the era in which the poem was written there was no hate or racial discrimination whatsoever on my part by sharing it with my fellow poets all of whom are adults and totally above this politically correct nonsense when it comes to our Australian history.

This nation was forged on blood, hatred, harshness, racial discrimination, criminality - that is our history warts and all and we cannot nor should we try to sanitize it because we need to know it and share it so that future generations can learn from it to ensure it never happens again.

Just venting here, because I consider it an injustice and an unacceptable practice by FB when I see so much of the other purely disgusting things they do allow to be shown currently.

My only options now as I see it are - to alter the title of the poem with an added notation as to why. The word causing offence only appears in the title of the poem - OR - to not use the poem at all. DOES IT MATTER? I think it does. What do our readers here think.

Judith's poem was based on a true story, the rockface (cliff) itself is titled Nigger's Leap - a similar event happened at Bluff Rock near Tenterfield in NSW.in 1844. Judith Wright has been called “the conscience of the nation”, for her early, ongoing and passionate commitment to Australia’s environment and the Aboriginal people. Nevertheless, it is for her poetry that she is best remembered, poetry which has helped shape Australia’s perception of itself as much as her tireless battles have helped to save it. Judith herself said of her poem .....

Wright describes her father as one of the few people who knew something of the unwritten history of the eastern side of the New England tableland. He told her how Darkie Point, just across from Point Lookout, got its name:
Long ago, he said, the white settlers of that region of the tableland had driven the Aborigines over its cliffs as reprisal for the spearing of their cattle. That sank as deeply into my mind as did the splendour of the cliffs and forests into which that Aboriginal band had fallen. Long afterwards, I wrote a poem about it, titled 'Nigger's Leap, New England'-another local name, disused for obvious reasons.
There is another cliff face, Bluff Rock near Tenterfield in Boonoo Boonoo National Park on the northern highway, where the same summary method of disposing of the 'rural pests' had been used ... Maybe my father's oral testimony to what happened at Darkie Point is the only record of that other day of murder.

Niggers Leap, New England .. Judith Wright ©

The eastward spurs tip backward from the sun.
Nights runs an obscure tide round cape and bay
and beats with boats of cloud up from the sea
against this sheer and limelit granite head.
Swallow the spine of range; be dark. O lonely air.
Make a cold quilt across the bone and skull
that screamed falling in flesh from the lipped cliff
and then were silent, waiting for the flies.

Here is the symbol, and climbing dark
a time for synthesis. Night buoys no warning
over the rocks that wait our keels; no bells
sound for the mariners. Now must we measure
our days by nights, our tropics by their poles,
love by its end and all our speech by silence.
See in the gulfs, how small the light of home.

Did we not know their blood channelled our rivers,
and the black dust our crops ate was their dust?
O all men are one man at last. We should have known
the night that tidied up the cliffs and hid them
had the same question on its tongue for us.
And there they lie that were ourselves writ strange.

Never from earth again the coolamon
or thin black children dancing like the shadows
of saplings in the wind. Night lips the harsh
scarp of the tableland and cools its granite.
Night floods us suddenly as history
that has sunk many islands in its good time.
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -

I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

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Post by Ron » Wed Oct 12, 2022 9:26 am

Hi Maureen,
Although I am not on FB myself (due to the fact that I am already stretching the friendship with computer time) I think you have certainly covered the issue in your well written post.
We are on the same wavelength there and I don’t think I could add anything else that you haven’t covered.

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Catherine Lee
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Location: Thailand


Post by Catherine Lee » Wed Oct 12, 2022 1:11 pm

Hi Maureen. I totally agree. The hypocrisy, control, and general lack of common sense and context when it comes to deeming what is “acceptable” these days are anathema to me. Personally, I found the poem to be both educational and moving and feel it should be perfectly obvious to most intelligent people that Judith Arundel Wright meant no disrespect whatsoever. As you rightly said, we are subjected to a lot worse these days, which we can pick up or discard according to our taste…Plus I’m with you one hundred percent on those who try to sanitize the historical facts of every nation and creed around the world. Many things happened. You cannot wipe out the facts. We should learn from them. End of story.
….. “my fellow poets, all of whom are adults and totally above this politically correct nonsense” – yes, indeed we are and I for one am exceedingly grateful that such rational balance still exists in today’s world.

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Shelley Hansen
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Location: Maryborough, Queensland


Post by Shelley Hansen » Thu Oct 13, 2022 11:14 am

That truly is vintage Judith Wright - with her trademark rich word imagery!

Interesting that Facebook condemns the innocuous use of an archaic expression, yet cyberbullies get away scot-free as they troll vulnerable individuals with hate messages via social media.

Cheer cheese, anyone??

Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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Gary Harding
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Location: Hervey Bay, Qld (ex Victorian)


Post by Gary Harding » Mon Nov 07, 2022 2:00 pm

Maureen, I think facebook has an automatic word detector, and in America with huge racial problems (looked upon enviously by our government who are trying to create them here) that word has only one connotation, with no room for leniency, regardless of how one may protest its innocent usage or context here. So you get "sanitised" and told to stand in the corner.. ha Welcome to the world of free speech and Big Brother watching what you type. There are more sinister people watching you than fb when you type.. so do not try the word "bomb" anywhere or... it gets detected.

Free speech dies as a sacrifice on the altar of political correctness.

It shows how political correctness can be used to Control you.... small ways perhaps to start, but oaks grow from.. etc. Control by stealth.
Just laugh at their blind idiocy, then you get your own back. THEY hate being laughed at!

I was reading a recent book about the Dam Busters in WW2. The word signifying success keyed back to England was "Nigger", the name of Guy Gibson's dog. Now in the narrative, the author reworded it to avoid actually saying that dreadful word. It was funny, but sad and pathetic too and contradictory. You read of these enormously brave men, and you suddenly see the fear and cowardice of the academic author of the associated book afraid to stand up to.. anyone.. so history gets subtly re-written and thus corrupted. Fancy correcting Guy Gibson VC. Disgraceful.

And the poor old dog lost his well deserved place in history. THAT was "animal cruelty". If the dog was still alive today it would give him "mental health issues" I am sure. Not to mention PTSD. Insane stuff.

It's a crazy world now.... full of crazy people (not us of course?) pushing their own version of truth and behaviour on you. Woe betide you if you do not slavishly believe in Climate Change as the absolute truth..

At The Australian Cultural Centre we have none of that nonsense stuff.. and no rewrites or omissions for anyone's political agendas. No opinions even!

You can say any words, just as long as you do not complain about the coffee or food.. now that would be very offensive!

Bob Pacey
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Location: Yeppoon


Post by Bob Pacey » Mon Nov 07, 2022 7:38 pm

Stuff me half of my poems would not see the light of day .
The purpose in life is to have fun.
After you grasp that everything else seems insignificant !!!

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