Thursday, April 2, 2020


Hello April!

This first Friday of April, my Swagger friends are writing to a prompt from The American Academy of Poets, Shelter in Poems.


Bear with me as I introduce a poem to shelter in...

Last week, Tabatha Yeatts Lonske introduced a poem she wrote as an opposite to another poem. I thought, Wow, I've got to try that! 

And, The American Academy of Poets called for readers to find a poem from their site to shelter in. While looking around their website, I stumbled across Alice Duir Miller. 

Oh, Alice! She was a poet and a pistol in her day! I fell a little bit in love with Alice.

Alice Duir Miller was born over 100 years ago. She wrote poetry that pushed for Women's Suffrage. She pointed out inconsistencies, disingenuousness, hypocritical reasons and policies that kept women from universal suffrage. 

This poem of hers, published in 1915, is a bit prose-y. 

Do You Know

 - 1874-1942

 That in 1869 Miss Jex-Blake and four other women entered for a
        medical degree at the University of Edinburgh?
    That the president of the College of Physicians refused to give
        the women the prizes they had won?
    That the undergraduates insulted any professor who allowed
        women to compete for prizes?

    That the women were stoned in the streets, and finally excluded
            from the medical school? (Please read the rest of the poem here. It will make sense later if you do)
However, Do You Know, works as a perfect foil for my response  poem of opposite. I hope you find shelter in it. 

What We Know
By Linda Mitchell in response to Alice Duir Miller

That in March 2020, Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett, an African American woman
    leads Dr. Barney Graham’s Seattle  coronavirus vaccine team. 
That her  journey began with a Bachelor of Sciences in Biology and
      a second major in Sociology from the University of Maryland.
That Dr. Corbett spent a post-baccalaureate year training at the National
      Institute of Health researching, practicing, honing skills.
That she then enrolled in the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
      earning  a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology.
That her Ph.D. garnered  awards for distinction, induction into
      the Frank Porter Graham Honor Society and a  fellowship to develop vaccines in Sri Lanka.
That dissecting human antibody responses to virus infection
      is this woman’s, this African American’s, this doctor’s  jam.
That Dr. Corbett’s mission is to block spike proteins from binding to
cells to prevent Covid-19...the science she’s leading  for our National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease team to fight our nightmare.
That according to a recent Black Enterprise dispatch, hospitals
since the outbreak of this pandemic, have called women to the front lines
of obliterating  the curve of COVID-19. We  know Dr. Corbett’s got this.

See more #ShelterinPoems from my fellow SWAGGERS

Catherine Flynn
Molly Hogan
Margaret Simon
and, Heidi Mordhorst who is hosting today's Poetry Friday Round-Up. Thanks so much, Heidi!

Givens, Dana. “Meet The Black Woman Taking the Lead to Develop a Vaccine For COVID-19.” Black Enterprise, Black Enterprise, 26 Mar. 2020,

“Kizzmekia S. Corbett PhD.” Keystone Symposia, Keystone Symposia & Digitell, 2020, Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with more than a 40-year history of convening open, peer-reviewed conferences that connect the scientific community and accelerate life science discovery.


  1. What an excellent pairing! I do love that times have changed somewhat since Alice Miller's time, but find it sad that women, especially women of colour, still have to work twice as hard, it seems, to get recognition. Go Dr Corbett!

  2. First of all, Alice Miller is my hero! Secondly, your response poem is fabulous, Linda. Thank you for the introduction to Dr. Corbett and giving light to her important work. :)

  3. Love these partner poems with opPOSITIVE messages about women rising to the challenge. I keep thinking how the teachers--and rightly, since we are mostly still getting paid--are climbing the steep curve of distance learning to innovate and deliver learning to families. They're not all women, but about 75% of us are, and WE ARE GETTING IT DONE. Thanks for the great challenge, Linda. Sorry I couldn't write my own response...

  4. Your poetry is on fire, Linda. You're producing so much great stuff! This is a wonderful response to the challenge. Thank-you for giving Dr Corbett this recognition. I wish her every success! Incidentally, I also love the colourful germs/bugs in the background of her pic.

  5. Much has been gained these recent years and so much still will be as Dr. Corbett and her team will show how it's done! Beautiful pairing, Linda. a bright light for us today: "is this woman’s, this African American’s, this doctor’s jam." - a favorite line.

  6. How cool! You've introduced me to not one, but two, fabulous awe-inspiring women. Thank you! And go Dr. Corbett--her work is life saving, and I can't wait to share it with my daughter (biochem major who has done work with viruses).

  7. Linda, thank you for your beautifully informative poem about Dr. Corbett, and for introducing me to Alice Duer Miller. I think both of these inspiring women would make great subjects for a biography. Take care and stay well.

  8. Thanks so much for both of these poems today Linda. Just Wow to your response. So much depends oh how fast we can get a vaccine out there. I would love to see a picture book biography of Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett!

  9. Linda, first of all, selecting Alice D. Miller as your first poet was a fantastic move. Who knew about her? Furthermore, why didn't we know about her as women continue to fight for distinction in this world. We see Dr. Nadine Burke on newscasts daily. Your paired What We Know poem is an example of your amazing research techniques and choosing just right words to support your thoughts: this woman’s, this African American’s, this doctor’s jam. Wonderful!

  10. Your poem is a tribute to those on the front lines of this virus. The heroes of our time. Thanks for writing it and for honoring Dr. Corbett.

  11. There's something a bit similar in the expressions of both Alice Duer Miller and Kizzmekia Corbett. Nice pairing, Linda!

  12. Thank you for shining a light on both of these amazing women!

  13. Wow--what a cool and informative poem! I love how you echoed the original but showed progress we've made. Still far to go, but...lovely!

  14. Love both poems -- I'm now in love with both Alice and Dr. Corbett! Thanks for the rousing post.

  15. Awesome. So inspiring! Thank you for introducing me both of these women.

  16. Huzzah for Dr. Corbett and all the women who are rocking the world of science, or, in your case, poetry!

  17. Fabulous! Thanks for writing this!

  18. Dr. Corbett and her peers are true heroes and heroines these days. Their vision will see us through. Wonderful work here, Linda! -- Christie @


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!