John Berger’s new poetry book


This video from Britain says about itself:

John Berger / Ways of Seeing, Episode 1 (1972)

A BAFTA award-winning BBC series with John Berger, which rapidly became regarded as one of the most influential art programmes ever made. In the first programme, Berger examines the impact of photography on our appreciation of art from the past.

Ways of Seeing is a 1972 BBC four-part television series of 30-minute films created chiefly by writer John Berger and producer Mike Dibb. Berger’s scripts were adapted into a book of the same name. The series and book criticize traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images. The series is partially a response to Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series, which represents a more traditionalist view of the Western artistic and cultural canon.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

John Berger: ways of seeing extraordinary in the ordinary

Tuesday 26th August 2014

21st-century poetry with Andy Croft

JOHN BERGER is one of the major radical European intellectuals of our time — a novelist, draughtsman, film-maker, essayist, critic and poet.

For over 60 years he has been challenging the way we see the world and how we think about it in books like Ways Of Seeing, Permanent Red, To The Wedding, A Painter Of Our Time, Pig Earth, Once In Europa, Lilac and Flag and From A-X.

But although Berger has always written poetry, often smuggling poems inside books like The Seventh Man, The White Bird and Pages Of The Wound, this is the first time his poetry has been collected in English.

Collected Poems (Smokestack Books, £8.95) brings together poems from the early 1950s to the first decade of the 21st century, including over 20 never previously published.

Many reflect Berger’s longstanding concerns with history and memory, art and war — unavoidable issues perhaps for a writer of his generation, as he explains in Self-portrait 1914-18:

“It seems now that I was so near to that war.

I was born eight years after it ended

When the General Strike had been defeated.

Yet I was born by Very Light and shrapnel

On duck boards

Among limbs without bodies.

I was born of the look of the dead

Swaddled in mustard gas

And fed in a dugout… I lived the first year of my life

Between the leaves of a pocket bible

Stuffed in a khaki haversack…. I was the world fit for heroes to live in.”

In many ways it is a book about violence —

“Hands of the world

amputated by profit

bleed in streets of bloodsheds”

— and there are poems here about Ypres, Mostar, Iraq, Palestine and the murder of Berger’s Chilean friend Orlando Letelier:

Before the fortress of injustice

he brought many together

with the delicacy of reason

and spoke there

of what must be done

amongst the rocks

not by giants

but by women and men

they blew him to pieces

because he was too coherent.

But it is also a beautiful book, about the beauty of the natural world and of the people who work in it:

Perhaps God resembles the story tellers

loving the feeble more than

the strong

the victors less

than the stricken.

Either way

in weak late October

the forest burns

with the sunshine

of the whole vanished summer.

And it contains a number of exquisite love poems:

My heart born naked

was swaddled in lullabies.

Later alone it wore

poems for clothes.

Like a shirt

I carried on my back

the poetry I had read.

So I lived for half a century

until wordlessly we met.

From my shirt on the back of the chair

I learn tonight

how many years

of learning by heart

I waited for you.

The most recent poem in the book They Are The Last is about the slow painful death of the European peasantry:

Each year more animals depart.

Only pets and carcasses remain,

and the carcasses living or dead

are from birth

ineluctably and invisibly

turned into meat.

Elsewhere

the animals of the poor

die with the poor

from protein insufficiency.

Now that they have gone

it is their endurance we miss.

As always, Berger demonstrates an enduring commitment to the extraordinary lives of ordinary people —

The mother puts

the newborn day

to her breast —

in perfectly framed still-life images. Sensual and plain, they are delicate sketches of hard lives caught between the provisional quality of language and the permanence of things, as in this hymn to the humble kitchen ladle:

Pewter pock-marked

moon of the ladler

rising above the mountain

going down into the saucepan

serving generations

steaming

dredging what has grown from seed

in the garden

thickened with potato

outliving us all

on the wooden sky

of the kitchen wall…Ladle

pour the sky steaming

with the carrot sun

the stars of salt

and the grease of the pig earth

pour the sky steaming

ladle

pour soup for our days

pour sleep for the night

pour years for my children.

Sea eagle, ospreys, ruddy shelducks and fungi


Purple heron, 23 August 2013

23 August 2014 in Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Netherlands. There was not only bird ringing there then. Also this wooden larger than life purple heron. Pictured by a cellphone camera, like the other photos of this blog post.

That heron was part of a group of other wood herons (bittern; grey heron; great egret; little egret) at the Dutch Bird Fair.

However, I promised to tell you what happened after the bird ringing.

Two Egyptian geese swimming.

Many barn swallows flying. Probably preparing to migrate to Africa.

Two ospreys circling in the air. Probably preparing to migrate to Africa as well.

Six white-fronted geese swimming. A bit strange to see them now in August, as they usually arrive from the Arctic in September.

Sulphur polypore, 23 August 2013

We pass a tree, on which sulphur polypore fungi grow.

We arrive at the hide called De Zeearend, called after the sea eagle.

And indeed, in the distance sits a sea eagle.

Closer to the hide, many grey lag and barnacle geese.

Four spoonbills. A great egret.

A group of ruddy shelducks cleaning their feathers on a meadow.

Near hide De Zeearend, 23 August 2013

The weather changes from one moment to the next one. Downpours. Sun. Sometimes, both at once, though we don’t see a rainbow.

Great reed warbler, Eurasian reed warbler ringed, photos


Great reed warbler and Eurasian reed warbler, Oostvaardersplassen, 23 August 2014

This is a photo of a great reed warbler, and of a smaller Eurasian reed warbler, in a bird ringer‘s hands at a ringing station of Dutch SOVON ornithologists in Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Netherlands, on 23 August 2014. Like all pictures in this blog post, it is a cellphone camera photo.

Before I will tell you why these two birds are so special, I will tell how we got there.

Walking to the ringing place, we saw a red fox.

A sand martin flying past.

Then, we arrived at the bird ringing. Something really special: a great reed warbler had flown into the ringers’ net. This is a really rare species in the Netherlands. It was the ringers’ only great reed warbler of that day. This young bird was born this year, as its feathers showed.

Great reed warbler and Eurasian reed warbler, in Oostvaardersplassen, on 23 August 2014

The Eurasian reed warbler in the ringer’s other hand was an adult bird. Maybe two years old, maybe ten.

Great reed warbler with ring, and Eurasian reed warbler, in Oostvaardersplassen, on 23 August 2014

80% of the birds caught on 23 August were Eurasian reed warblers. Only two of them adults; the rest juveniles. Adult reed warblers usually start their migration to Africa earlier than juveniles.

Some other bird species were caught on 23 August: bluethroat; tree pipit; sedge warbler.

After the ringing and making of notes, all birds were freed to continue their long journey to Africa. If one of these birds will ever be found again, than that will contribute to more knowledge about that individual bird and its species; helping with conservation.

Bird ringers' net, Oostvaardersplassen, 23 August 2014

A marsh harrier flew over the ringing station.

What happened, as we walked back from the ringing place? Stay tuned!

Bahrain absolute monarchy keeps violating human rights


This video is called ‘People were tortured in front of my eyes': Bahrain top human rights activist Nabeel Rajab released.

By Human Rights Watch:

Citizenship Rights Stripped Away

Authorities Take New Powers to Arbitrarily Revoke Nationality

(Beirut, August 21, 2014) – Ten people whose Bahraini citizenship was withdrawn without due process are facing deportation or jail, Human Rights Watch said today. They are among 31 people declared stateless in November 2012, allegedly for damaging state security. The others have left the country.

July 2014 amendments to Bahrain’s citizenship laws will grant the Interior Ministry additional authority to revoke citizenship of people who fail in their “duty of loyalty” to the state, a vaguely worded provision that could be used against government critics, Human Rights Watch said. Recent amendments to Bahrain’s counterterrorism law, in tandem with the recent failure of Bahrain’s criminal justice system to provide fair trials and deliver impartial verdicts, provide a further legal pretext for the arbitrary stripping of citizenship, in clear violation of international law.

“The Bahraini authorities’ latest repressive tactic is to invest themselves with further powers to arbitrarily strip critics of their citizenship,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future.”

Bahrain should repeal laws that will allow authorities to strip Bahrainis of their nationality on grounds so vague as to be arbitrary, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should immediately restore the citizenship rights of the 10 people who face deportation and of the 21 others whose citizenship rights were removed without due process.

Bahraini authorities have either obstructed the right of appeal or refused to justify the decision to revoke the citizenship of the nine men and one woman who remain in the country. They have no residence permits and face charges of violating asylum and immigration law.

Twelve news and information providers are currently detained in Bahrain. Many of them are photographers or cameramen, who have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011 because their visual coverage of the protests and the government’s crackdown threaten the kingdom’s image: here.

Save Irish Rathlin island golden hares, petition


This video says about itself:

Rathlin’s Golden Hare, Ireland

22 June 2008

Join Wyllie O Hagan in an evening encounter with Ireland’s Award Winning Wildlife Photographer Tom Mc Donnell.

See Rathlin Island from a photographer’s viewpoint. You will have seen Rathlin Island‘s seals, puffins and bird sanctuary before. Here we share with Youtubers the first video recorded sighting of the Island’s famous “Golden Hare”. Wyllie O Hagan filmed this footage of the hare on Rathlin Island in May 2008.

It was an extraordinary event, and this is the inspiration for O Hagan’s next relief print which will accompany “The Wild Swans at Coole“.

See the artist make the print here.

From the 38 Degrees site, this petition:

Save Rathlin Island Hares

To: Minister Mark Durkan, DOE

Make Rathlin Island into a hare reserve and reintroduce special protection for hares in Northern Ireland.

Why is this important?

This is important because the hare is being hunted out of existence on Rathlin, with a shooter being brought in by local farmers – apparently hares eat too much grass and are considered a pest. This beautiful animal is an integral part of our wildlife and heritage. Rathlin used to be one of its strongholds in Northern Ireland and people still come from all over the world to see these animals, including the rare genetic variant – the Golden Hare. Surely these amazing animals have a right to survival on their island home, where we can enjoy them for years to come. Once they are gone, like in so many other places in Northern Ireland, they are gone. Please help us protect them before it’s too late.

Photographer persecuted for photography in Bahrain


This 11 August 2014 video is about photographer Hussain Hubail from Bahrain, arrested by the regime for photography, and sentenced to five years in jail.

Business Interests Are More Valuable to Bahrain’s Western Allies Than Democracy and Human Rights: here.

Save animals of Ecuador


This video about Ecuador is called Give these amazing species an opportunity.

From PRWEB:

Company Seeks Funding to Protect Wildlife Through Photography

Ecuadorian image bank Ecuastock.com seeks crowdfunding to promote its efforts to save South American animal species

Amazonia, ECUADOR, August 15, 2014

Ecuador is home to thousands of animal species living in the jungle, mountains, coastal regions, and the Galápagos Islands, but many of these animal species are in danger of extinction. Ecuastock.com is a company hoping to raise awareness of the plight of these animals by selling professional photographs and using the proceeds to fund animal-saving programs. Ecuastock has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $150,000 by October 3, to help boost their sales and protect as many animals as possible.

Ecuador’s biodiversity is so extensive that just one portion of the country, the Yasuni National Park, has more native species than the whole of North America. Due to human behavior like petroleum exploitation, indiscriminate forest logging, trafficking of exotic animals, unauthorized fishing, and expansion of civilization, the multiplicity of animal species is in danger. “What we need in order to protect these animals is support from local communities and awareness around the globe of what is going on here in Ecuador,” said Ecuastock Co-Founder Daniel Silva. “We need to raise money to put an end to thoughtless practices that are eliminating entire species.”

Ecuastock’s business plan is simple. Professional photographers working together capture images of thousands of animal species in the wild and make them available for purchase. The proceeds from image sales help to improve resources, infrastructure, and equipment in the Amazon region and create a global awareness campaign through social media. Money from sales also helps document wildlife and share data worldwide as well as help support the acquisition of land for wildlife protection areas.

Supporters of the crowdfunding campaign will receive striking images of South American animal species, including printed postcards and souvenirs. Starting at the $5 contribution level, supporters will receive one full-color digital postcard. Those contributing $25 can download a high-resolution image of their choice, while those contributing $50 can download three images and those contributing $100 can download five images. Contributors giving $250 will receive a collection of images in a digital book, and those contributing $500 will receive that collection in a printed book.

Some of the larger giving level perks include a two-night visit to Ecuador, a guided tour to meet the native species. Contributors will also have the opportunity to plant a tree in the Amazon, and have a protected area where trees planted are named after them.

About Ecuastock:

Ecuastock is a part of a digital marketing business that has created and developed several brands and projects over the past four years based on social media, digital communication, and online publicity. For more information or to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit igg.me/at/buyamazingspecies/x.