Close your eyes.
From Hook to Jumanji to Dead Poet’s Society
With wonder and fantasy and passion
Your joy became watercolor poetry that filled
in the sun and made people everywhere
believe in themselves and believe in life.
We’ve seen you weep and stand on a desk to view the world differently.
We’ve seen you fight for what you wanted and desired.
Maybe these were just characters, but you brought them to life.
I don’t know your middle name or your wife’s name or how you felt the first moment you realized you were famous or the first time you felt alive,
but I know you were sixty-three when you felt the desks collapse and
the walls close in and suddenly we remembered you were fighting a battle, too.
Suddenly we feel an absence we hadn’t felt before.
Suddenly we feel a sadness we do not know how to describe.
We’re all fighting battles and we realize that with your passing
and we’re sorry you had to leave.
You made us laugh and you made us weep and you made
us stand in our movie theatre seats and raise our fists to a life worth living.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN, we will remember you.
On this day in 1960, the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee was published by J.B Lippincott & Co. The novel tells the story of the trial of a young African-American man in Alabama in the 1930s, and is told from the perspective of the daughter of the defendant’s lawyer, Scout Finch. Lee was partly inspired by events she recalled from her own childhood growing up in Alabama in the days of Jim Crow segregation. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was released during a turbulent time for American race relations, as the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement was beginning to get underway with sit-ins and Freedom Rides in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The novel was originally going to be called ‘Atticus’ for Scout’s father and the moral centre of the story, but was renamed for one of Atticus’s iconic lines. The novel was an immediate success, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 1962 it was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck and featuring the film debut of Robert Duvall as the elusive Boo Radley. Harper Lee never published another novel and remains reclusive from the press, though she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. The influence of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has never faded in the 54 years since its release, and is a favourite of many for its warmth and humour while tackling some of the most troubling issues of its day.
"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird"