Arriving and moving on

Flightpath: afterwards

Dorothy Hoddinott and students

Dorothy Hoddinott and students

Image Wolter Peeters/Sydney Morning Herald

‘For almost two decades Dorothy Hoddinott and her team at Holroyd High School have been channelling the aspirations and hard work of newly arrived refugee students. She talks to Richard Aedy about Holroyd High and her teaching career…’

Listen to the half-hour interview at

‘If you look around,’ says Hoddinott, ‘six out of every 10 students here are refugees. A third have been in Australia for less than three years. Most arrive with no English at all; many are illiterate. And yet 40 per cent are going on to university. Compare that with a national average of 30 per cent. Something is happening here that is quite extraordinary.

We have children who have seen their parents murdered; we have children who have been raped; we have children who have been forced to live in poverty and fear in refugee camps. So our first task is to normalise lives – coming to school on time, having books, wearing uniforms. The semiotics of that are very powerful…’

Read the interview:




Flightpath: afterwords

I dwell in Possibility –

A fairer House than Prose –

More numerous of Windows –

Superior – for Doors –

from I dwell in Possibility by Emily Dickinson

 And from two writers who do dwell in prose:







Departures and arrivals

Waving the waders goodbye from downunder:

‘Saturday, 10 May 2014 marks World Migratory Bird Day for 2014…About 5 million shorebirds make a round trip up to the arctic to breed every year. That’s a 30,000 kilometre journey for some.

If you consider that some species of shorebirds weigh less than a chocolate bar, then you are starting to understand just how incredible these birds are…’

waving waders adrian boyle bbo web

Image Broome Bird Observatory/Adrian Boyle

Link and listen to a 30-minute panel conversation from Australia on ABC Radio National:

See also

Meanwhile in the northern hemisphere:


Spring comes little, a little. All April it rains.
The new leaves stick in their fists; new ferns still fiddleheads.
But one day the swifts are back. Face to the sun like a child
You shout, ‘The swifts are back!’
Sure enough, bolt nocks bow to carry one sky-scyther
Two hundred miles an hour across fullblown windfields.
Swereee swereee. Another. And another.
It’s the cut air falling in shrieks on our chimneys and roofs.
The next day, a fleet of high crosses cruises in ether.
These are the air pilgrims, pilots of air rivers.
But a shift of wing, and they’re earth-skimmers, daggers
Skilful in guiding the throw of themselves away from themselves.
Quick flutter, a scimitar upsweep, out of danger of touch, for
Earth is forbidden to them, water’s forbidden to them,
All air and fire, little owlish ascetics, they outfly storms,
They rush to the pillars of altitude, the thermal fountains.
Here is a legend of swifts, a parable —
When the Great Raven bent over earth to create the birds,
The swifts were ungrateful. They were small muddy things
Like shoes, with long legs and short wings,
So they took themselves off to the mountains to sulk.
And they stayed there. ‘Well,’ said the Raven, after years of this,
‘I will give you the sky. You can have the whole sky
On condition that you give up rest.’
‘Yes, yes,’ screamed the swifts, ‘We abhor rest.
We detest the filth of growth, the sweat of sleep,
Soft nests in the wet fields, slimehold of worms.
Let us be free, be air!’
So the Raven took their legs and bound them into their bodies.
He bent their wings like boomerangs, honed them like knives.
He streamlined their feathers and stripped them of velvet.
Then he released them, Never to Return

Inscribed on their feet and wings. And so
We have swifts, though in reality, not parables but
Bolts in the world’s need: swift
Swifts, not in punishment, not in ecstasy, simply
Sleepers over oceans in the mill of the world’s breathing.
The grace to say they live in another firmament.
A way to say the miracle will not occur,
And watch the miracle.

by Anne Stevenson

(Apologies, there’s a glitch in formatting – there should be a line-break every fourth line.)
To read this and other Anne Stevenson poems see

Common-Swift alamy

 Image: Alamy

For another swift story see

Swifts over the Valley

Swifts over the Valley

Image of Andy Jarrett’s sculpture by Mark Cocker for The Guardian