So, a friend posted this article on facebook, about a speech given by an amazing woman named Chavka Folman Raban. She was a survivor of the Warsaw ghettos and Auschwitz, and an advocate for peace. 
Her speech was so poetic and inspiring, I quickly wrote this poem. I hope I can do her voice justice. The poem is called Rebellion. 
1942
Through the window of this small station
I can see them
Through the damp woods
And the trampled carpet
Of broken bluebells
I see them in the meadows
 
All around them
The Germans come thundering 
Horses’ hooves bludgeoning, they’re
Kettled and corralled like cattle. 
I wait.
 
I see four boys, watched over by soldiers
Digging a hole
Their faces are slippery 
With mud and tears
Then the soldiers shoot each one with a snap
And they tumble in roughly 
Limbs suddenly flung
This is it
I whisper, heart thumping
And my mouth barely breathes it: Shoah
 
I hold this terrible truth to me
All the way back
Back home to the ghetto
Though this had not always been our home
This densely packed and fenced-in place
This cramped and crowded rat-hole
Filled with sickness and panic 
But now we called it home; our ghetto
And now I knew the time had come 
To fight
Resist
Be brave
 
We write pamphlets, papers
For those with no food or medicine
To them we gave words and ideas
 
We smuggled what weapons we could
We fought, and they took me to Auschwitz
I still did not state my true name
As they branded me 
We’re corralled and kettled like cattle
In this densely packed and fenced in place
And back
In Warsaw
 
The rebellion was raging
And the SS, brazen in uniform, 
Stood and watched as the ghettos burnt
The fire danced in their brass buttons
 
So many died that day
So many brave, bold, and young
So many lives cut short
When they should have known love
And beauty
And laughter
 
And now how are we to be brave? 
Bravery does not wear a uniform
How are we to fight our rebellion?
To stand in the blazing face of hatred 
To show that love is stronger?
 
2014
Through the windows of this army base
I can see them
Though thick dust grimes the glass 
And fills the air between us
They’re walled in 
Kettled and corralled like cattle
I wait.
Four boys
Throw stones.
Swiftly, they’re 
Lined up in rifle sights
And dropped 
Onto piles of rubble
Limbs suddenly flung
I hear the wail of their mothers
They should have lived
Should have known love 
And beauty
And laughter
 
And now how are we to be brave? 
This densely packed and fenced in place
Leaves no room for peace 
We write pamphlets, papers
For those with no food or medicine
To them we gave words and ideas
We give prayers in the darkness
 
All around them the bombs come thundering
Heavy fire bludgeoning
They’re kettled and corralled like cattle
In this densely packed and fenced in place
This cramped and crowded rat-hole
Filled with sickness and panic 
And the IDF, brazen in uniform
Stand and watch as Gaza burns
The flames dancing in their insignia badges
 

Hate is a white hot flame

So, a friend posted this article on facebook, about a speech given by an amazing woman named Chavka Folman Raban. She was a survivor of the Warsaw ghettos and Auschwitz, and an advocate for peace. 

Her speech was so poetic and inspiring, I quickly wrote this poem. I hope I can do her voice justice. The poem is called Rebellion. 

1942

Through the window of this small station

I can see them

Through the damp woods

And the trampled carpet

Of broken bluebells

I see them in the meadows

 

All around them

The Germans come thundering

Horses’ hooves bludgeoning, they’re

Kettled and corralled like cattle.

I wait.

 

I see four boys, watched over by soldiers

Digging a hole

Their faces are slippery

With mud and tears

Then the soldiers shoot each one with a snap

And they tumble in roughly

Limbs suddenly flung

This is it

I whisper, heart thumping

And my mouth barely breathes it: Shoah

 

I hold this terrible truth to me

All the way back

Back home to the ghetto

Though this had not always been our home

This densely packed and fenced-in place

This cramped and crowded rat-hole

Filled with sickness and panic

But now we called it home; our ghetto

And now I knew the time had come

To fight

Resist

Be brave

 

We write pamphlets, papers

For those with no food or medicine

To them we gave words and ideas

 

We smuggled what weapons we could

We fought, and they took me to Auschwitz

I still did not state my true name

As they branded me

We’re corralled and kettled like cattle

In this densely packed and fenced in place

And back

In Warsaw

 

The rebellion was raging

And the SS, brazen in uniform,

Stood and watched as the ghettos burnt

The fire danced in their brass buttons

 

So many died that day

So many brave, bold, and young

So many lives cut short

When they should have known love

And beauty

And laughter

 

And now how are we to be brave?

Bravery does not wear a uniform

How are we to fight our rebellion?

To stand in the blazing face of hatred

To show that love is stronger?

 

2014

Through the windows of this army base

I can see them

Though thick dust grimes the glass

And fills the air between us

They’re walled in

Kettled and corralled like cattle

I wait.

Four boys

Throw stones.

Swiftly, they’re

Lined up in rifle sights

And dropped

Onto piles of rubble

Limbs suddenly flung

I hear the wail of their mothers

They should have lived

Should have known love

And beauty

And laughter

 

And now how are we to be brave?

This densely packed and fenced in place

Leaves no room for peace

We write pamphlets, papers

For those with no food or medicine

To them we gave words and ideas

We give prayers in the darkness

 

All around them the bombs come thundering

Heavy fire bludgeoning

They’re kettled and corralled like cattle

In this densely packed and fenced in place

This cramped and crowded rat-hole

Filled with sickness and panic

And the IDF, brazen in uniform

Stand and watch as Gaza burns

The flames dancing in their insignia badges

 

Hate is a white hot flame

  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)
  • Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)

Some photos from Latitude 2014: Pre-Page Match dressing room action; Saturday morning gig; trees, sheeps and mis-en-scene. (Sign photo courtesy of Steven Kemp)

  • It’s all getting rather exciting! Page Match hits Latitude Fest… this time I’m not up against Hollie “Watch you Squish” McNish. To see which heavyweight all star wrestling poet I’ll be up against for this one, watch this space… 
(Poetry Arena, late Friday night. Kaboom.) 
  • It’s all getting rather exciting! Page Match hits Latitude Fest… this time I’m not up against Hollie “Watch you Squish” McNish. To see which heavyweight all star wrestling poet I’ll be up against for this one, watch this space… 
(Poetry Arena, late Friday night. Kaboom.) 

It’s all getting rather exciting! Page Match hits Latitude Fest… this time I’m not up against Hollie “Watch you Squish” McNish. To see which heavyweight all star wrestling poet I’ll be up against for this one, watch this space… 

(Poetry Arena, late Friday night. Kaboom.) 

Shopsmells 

(How a blind person might experience the high street: Shop Smells.)

The laundrette smells of: 
Warm dog and washing powder

Cex Entertainment smells of TV dinners
And black ash furniture

Health food shops: cardboard vitamins and liquorice root 

Argos smells of sticky children’s buggies 

Macdonalds? Warm death, wilting gherkins

Games workshop is wet paint and
Breathy excitement 

The newsagents has a dry smell
Dusty cans of marrowfat peas

And the payday loan shop
Smells
Of 
Nothing.

Shopsmells

(How a blind person might experience the high street: Shop Smells.)

The laundrette smells of:
Warm dog and washing powder

Cex Entertainment smells of TV dinners
And black ash furniture

Health food shops: cardboard vitamins and liquorice root

Argos smells of sticky children’s buggies

Macdonalds? Warm death, wilting gherkins

Games workshop is wet paint and
Breathy excitement

The newsagents has a dry smell
Dusty cans of marrowfat peas

And the payday loan shop
Smells
Of
Nothing.

Loving the names of these designs. From “Soft Furnishings for your Home”

Loving the names of these designs. From “Soft Furnishings for your Home”

By the way, I’ve started putting some stuff on a YouTube Channel so if you’re a hip young thing that uses YouTube, please do subscribe. Got some exciting video-making projects in the pipeline, so hopefully soon there will be lots of new films to watch! #YEEEEAHHHTube

By the way, I’ve started putting some stuff on a YouTube Channel so if you’re a hip young thing that uses YouTube, please do subscribe. Got some exciting video-making projects in the pipeline, so hopefully soon there will be lots of new films to watch! #YEEEEAHHHTube

A quick vid I did of my poem “Concerns”. May 2014

  • Some black and white shots by the very talented Alex Waespi. We shot these around Brixton, (all analogue), developed by Alex by hand. For Alex’s other work see here.  
  • Some black and white shots by the very talented Alex Waespi. We shot these around Brixton, (all analogue), developed by Alex by hand. For Alex’s other work see here.  
  • Some black and white shots by the very talented Alex Waespi. We shot these around Brixton, (all analogue), developed by Alex by hand. For Alex’s other work see here.  
  • Some black and white shots by the very talented Alex Waespi. We shot these around Brixton, (all analogue), developed by Alex by hand. For Alex’s other work see here.  

Some black and white shots by the very talented Alex Waespi. We shot these around Brixton, (all analogue), developed by Alex by hand. For Alex’s other work see here.  

Well Versed @ Stoke Newington Lit Fest 2014

My next gig is at the Mascara Bar, Stoke Newington, with the Morning Star’s “Well Versed” poetry column. Appearing on the night: Tim Wells, Phil Jupitus (in his Porky the Poet guise) Chimene Suleyman, Niall O’Sullivan, Angry Sam, Lucy Ayrton and more! 

Poem: Concerns

Today, in response to Ukip’s European election victory, Ed Miliband has announced that people who are concerned about immigration aren’t racist. 

This is my poetic response. 

 

CONCERNS

 

I’ve got concerns about immigration

But that doesn’t make me a racist

 

I mean

I don’t care what colour you are

But I think people should speak the Queen’s English

 

Look I’m not a racist

I like to holiday in Spain

I even have paella

Lovely timeshare apartment we’ve got

Everyone’s English so I don’t need to speak a word of

Espanola, ever

 

I’ve got concerns about immigration

But that doesn’t make me a racist

I saw it in the papers

There are primary schools

Where all the kids speak Polish

Or… Bangladesh

There’s no NHS places left at my dentists

Cause they’re right in there, aren’t they?

Look, I’m not racist

But there just isn’t that much space, it’s

 

Like my brother in law

Been out of work 3 years

Used to work for Carillion

(Whose CEO paid himself a bonus of 3 million

And blacklisted union reps)

But there’s no jobs, he says, for English

They don’t want them

They’d rather have a foreign

Cause they’re cheaper

See I’m not a racist

I’m just concerned about immigration

 

Cause you can’t fly the flag of St George any more, can you?

Or have a golliwog?

It’s all PC this, and they want a mosque on every corner

I saw it in the paper, they want Sharia law now

 

And I’m scared of losing English culture

I cling to my flimsy driftwood in a shipwreck

Made of my own fear

 

Well I’m this red and white flag

And I’m this green and pleasant land

And I’m pub gardens on an A-road

I’m picnic tables on asphalt

I’m warm beer

I’m Corby trouser press

I’m Typhoo tea

I’m boiled potatoes

Proud to be British

 

But I ‘spose that makes me a racist

 

I’ve got concerns about immigration

 

I’m in this tribe, I’m fencing myself in

With the B&Q decking that we bought

I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears

I’m going to live on a diet of panic and fear

In smudgy newsprint

 

I’m not going to look up

 

Never look up

 

I’ve not got concerns about a universal working class of every colour and nationality being shafted by corporations and the neoliberal Governments that serve them

 

No

 

I’ve not got concerns about exploitation

 

But

 

I’ve got concerns about immigration.

 

image

There I am… with lots of lovely and brilliant poets in the poetry arena! It’s the tent to be in at this year’s Latitude..!

There I am… with lots of lovely and brilliant poets in the poetry arena! It’s the tent to be in at this year’s Latitude..!

At The Alarmist gig, Rough Trade records, Friday 2nd May.

At The Alarmist gig, Rough Trade records, Friday 2nd May.

Next gig: The Alarmist Mag issue 3 launch at Rough at Trade Records. 

With Richard Purnell, Fran Lock, Wesley Cooke, and Gary from Leeds. 
An early doors gig with poetry and stories in amongst the records and coffee drinkers. 

Tickets available from www.roughtrade.com

Next gig: The Alarmist Mag issue 3 launch at Rough at Trade Records.

With Richard Purnell, Fran Lock, Wesley Cooke, and Gary from Leeds.
An early doors gig with poetry and stories in amongst the records and coffee drinkers.

Tickets available from www.roughtrade.com

Word of the day: guazzabuglio (Italian)

oupacademic:

Photos from the PIE collective courtesy of Laura Kirby (March 2014)

Photos from the PIE collective courtesy of Laura Kirby (March 2014)