the foundations of oppression can't be plucked up without the anger of a multitude

Archive for the ‘Books / Poetry’ Category

The Three Furies, the albany

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Zena Edward‘s tale, summoning the spirit of the ancient Furies, female powers who might purge the world of its multiple iniquities, is stunning. A stunning piece of one-woman, spoken word theatre.

It deals with the problem of how to reconcile the anger that comes from pain at injustice with the love you are supposed to embody. How can we be angry from a position of love? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by angrysampoetry

October 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Jessie Mitchell’s mother – Gwendolyn Brooks

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Another poem from the excellent ‘You Better Believe It: Black Verse in English’. The editor of this 1973 anthology, Paul Breman, tells me – or anyone else who wants to read his intro – that Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Kansas in 1917 but lived in Chicago all her life. She was says Brennan, “easily the most interesting of the early generation of female black poets”. tells me she died in 2000.


Into her mother’s bedroom to wash the ballooning body.
‘My mother is jelly-hearted and she has a brain of jelly:
Sweet, quiver-soft, irrelevant. Not essential.
Only a habit would cry if she should die. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by angrysampoetry

September 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Brand New Ancients at Battersea Arts Centre

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Following her massively successful book launch in the massive Old Vic, now Kate Tempest has a play out too. Written across a year at Battersea Arts Centre with regular, public, work-in-progress rehearsals, Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients is a good argument for giving artists time, space, support and money and letting them produce something innovative.

The play opens with Kate lying motionless on the stacked blocks of a simple stage set, legs stretched out (wearing odd socks) as if in a trance in her room at home. Behind her a band of drums, cello, violin and tuba play a city-traffic-dreamscape that is the prologue for this urban tale.

The idea of the Brand New Ancients concept is that we are all gods, heroes, giants, villains – at times all of them. Like Joyce’s Ulysses, the artist creates modern myths in old frameworks. Like Dizraeli with his idea of ‘small gods’, there are no idols, queens or kings when all people are little gods themselves.  As the ‘ancients’ created myth to understand and explain the world, so should we too make our symbols and stories from a “brand new mythic pallet”. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by angrysampoetry

September 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Kate Tempest book launch, The Old Vic 23rd August 2012

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What a pleasure it was to sit in the Old Vic and watch ‘performance poetry’! Kate Tempest, who makes the words ‘cunt’ and ‘fucking’ an endeering verbal tic, lovely in the extreme and inspiring as always, except this time in the grandest of settings so that when she looked up to take our imaginations with her to see the moon and sun of her poem, the roof of the regency theatre was so far above her that she actually seemed the mystic high priestess of the movement calling on the power of astral bodies. Read the rest of this entry »

Fancies idle (iii) – Peter Abraham

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Following my blog post on Lonmin and the horror story of the miners in South Africa, here’s a poem by Peter Abrahams from 1938 from ‘You Better Believe It: Black Verse in English’, published by Penguin. Abrahams, says the editor, “served as publicity secretary to the Fifth Pan-African Congress” in 1945 – led by the likes of George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta. Born in South Africa to Ethiopian father and ‘Cape-coloured mother’, he lived in England after the war, where he had “An astonishingly creative decade”. After that he moved to Jamaica. Here is the poem:

Read the rest of this entry »

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August 21, 2012 at 12:28 am

Rap vs. Poetry – Bedroom Bar, 17th August 2012.

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There is something about the concept of rap vs poetry that brings people in. A similar event happens annually in Brighton and, although neither the regular poetry gigs nor the regular hiphop nights are that big, Poets vs MCs sells out every year. I participated in 2005 on the poetry team and then took over the running of the event for a couple of years. At the Bedroom Bar last night, Dizraeli was host. As he also has done those nights and been based in Brighton for years, for him and me at least, it meant there was a spiritual link with the original event. Love and props to Paul and Ros and all those involved in the Brighton shows. Read the rest of this entry »

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August 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm

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With MacHeath – aka (probably) Knife, gangster, murderer, polygamist and businessman – on trial for the murder of a female employee which he did not commit (though much of the blame for the woman’s actual suicide could be laid at Mac’s feet), his spiel about how his bargain “B” shops are helping the poor to buy cheap goods and supporting the franchise owners in a trade, is swallowed and repeated by almost all of the newspapers who cover it. We hear that:

“Only a proletarian publication slung mud at the B. shop Napoleon. But they could not be taken seriously because, contrary to the sporting spirit, they denied their victim any redeeming qualities and devoted most of their space to an impassioned demand for the forcible liquidation of the existing social order.” Read the rest of this entry »

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July 9, 2012 at 12:13 am

Christopher Logue, a “very great poet”

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“We were interested in serious writing. Comic, not comical. Entertaining, not entertainment. … We agreed that poetry must be beautiful – to hear and to read – and witty, and interesting, and say useful, unusual things, and exhilarate. And that the work of poets who do not produce such effects would be forgotten.”[1]

Christopher Logue, I hope, will not be forgotten. During his life, he was not often remembered. He is under-represented in anthologies and critical discussion of post-war British poetry and, partly it seems, it is his own fault. He never featured in the highly successful Penguin Modern Poets series because “I refused to share a volume … with two other poets, demanding one to myself.”[2]Image Read the rest of this entry »

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June 12, 2012 at 11:28 am

The Merchant of Venice – Globe to Globe festival 29th May

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First, a word on the boycott issue to get it out of the way. So companies from all over the world are doing short runs of Shakespeare plays at the Globe. Habima, the Israeli National Theatre, with boring predictably that seemed not in the ‘overcoming prejudice and stereotypes’ spirit of the festival at all, chose The Merchant of Venice because that’s the one with a Jew in it. I went because my dad wanted to go. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 30, 2012 at 1:37 am

Posted in Books / Poetry

The Man on the Dump, Wallace Stevens, 1942

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From the collection, ‘Parts of a World’, the parts of which are reproduced in the Faber ‘Collected Poems’ (2006; p 176)

Day creeps down. The moon is creeping up.
The sun is a corbeil of flowers the moon Blanche
Places there, a bouquet. Ho-ho…The dump is full
Of images. Days pass like papers from a press.
The bouquets come here in the papers. So the sun,
And so the moon, both come, and the janitor’s poems
Of every day, the wrapper on the can of pears,
The cat in the paper-bag, the corset, the box
From Esthonia: the tiger chest, for tea. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 12, 2012 at 9:33 am