Against glorification of World War I in London tonight


This video from England is called No Glory – Remembering World War One in Music and Poetry – St James’s Church, London – 25.10.13.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Anti-war events mark WWI centenary

Monday 4th August 2014

ANTI-WAR events will take place across the country today to counter 100th anniversary celebrations of Britain’s entry into WWI.

Britain’s recent record of foreign wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan, its commitment to Nato expansion and support for Israeli aggression make it essential that there is a strong anti-war message on the day, says Stop The War.

The campaign group is organising a No Glory — No More War rally in Parliament Square this evening from 6.30pm aimed at countering Prime Minister David Cameron’s “celebration” and “glorification” of the WWI centenary.

Speakers and performers at the event include actors Samuel West and Kika Markham.

Jeremy Corbyn MP will read Keir Hardie’s anti-war speech of 1914 and writer AL Kennedy will read Carol Ann Duffy’s Last Post in honour of Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier from the WWI trenches, who said until the day he died in 2009 that war was “legalised mass murder.”

Wreaths will be laid at bus stations and garages across London today in memory of the transport workers who died in the 1914-18 war.

Report of the London rally: here.

British disabled poet Mark Burnhope interviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

27 November 2011

Mark Burnhope reads ‘The Well and the Ceiling Rose’, ‘The Snowboy’ and ‘Shinglehenge’ (from The Snowboy).

By Jody Powell in Britain:

A Christian outsider, maybe-Quaker, physically disabled and queer

Thursday 17th July 2017

32-YEAR-OLD MARK BURNHOPE is a poet, editor and disability activist whose new book Species is his first full verse collection. Here he tells Jody Porter all about what impels him to write

What are your religious/political beliefs and how have they affected your poetry in the past and now in this book?

I’m a Christian outsider, maybe-Quaker, physically disabled and queer.

My religions are poetry, contemplation, social action and disability rights. I’m agnostic about the nature of “God” but her presence will always permeate my work and identity as “other,” even in contexts where I’m told I belong.

My chapbooks, The Snowboy and Lever Arch, dealt with religious disenfranchisement in their own ways. Species explores otherness as “natural/unnatural,” so people occupy the same space as animals, birds and monsters.

My politics are just my self, primarily filtered through disability/queerness.

I’m on the left but recoil from its tendency to exclude disenfranchised people in spite of its purported ethos of inclusion.

Recent examples include Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) having their wheelchair-using speakers turned away from the recent large London protest on the basis that it was their responsibility to pay for access to the stage, and not the event organisers — the People’s Assembly, who were quick to apologise and hopefully take steps to improving the situation for the future.

Then there was the discomfort I felt when certain people sharing pictures of DPAC protesters at Westminster Abbey fighting to keep the Independent Living Fund infantilised us, joked about us as defenceless, ultimately harmless and no genuine threat to government. Too often, that’s the able-bodied left for you.

I’m on the left because that’s where I find myself. But all this time, disabled people themselves have been leading a grass-roots, self-advocating charge against welfare reform and it saddens me when that’s co-opted by a non-disabled majority left that considers us only an optional piece of a larger puzzle — the “bigger fish to fry” syndrome — then depicts our efforts as quaint have-a-go attempts to join in.

I appreciate the sentiment behind a phrase like “solidarity with disabled people” but we’ve never spoken of “solidarity with able-bodied people,” we just call them the left.

I wish we received the same treatment but I find myself having to watch the action from the periphery too often.

What’s the significance of the collection’s title Species and the Darwin quote at the front of the book?

The book’s first epigraph, from theologian Francis Turretin in the 17th century, says that the law given to Moses “is usually distinguished into three species: moral… ceremonial… and civil.”

The book of Exodus contains the “clobber passages” which Christianity has used to oppress queer people alongside lesser-known verses which designate women, disabled people and others as “abominations.”

It’s not just gay people. The continual reinforcement of these prejudices in our day and age is due, in part, to this arbitrary and textually unsupported division of the law into three “species.”

The Darwin quote — “We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence” — relates to natural selection, that the strongest survive and the weakest conveniently die out for the continuation of “the whole.”

Species includes a sequence about the Atos-sponsored London Paralympics 2012, the government systemic ableism of eugenics-inflected propaganda and the dismantlement of the welfare state under the guise of “reform.”

The Darwin quote is a joke, meant to lead the reader into the book with a wry smile. I used the quote because it made me laugh. We have to laugh, or we’d cry.

What are abnominals?

The abnominal is a form invented by Scottish poet Andrew Philip, described in his second collection The North End Of The Possible: “The abnominal is a form I have developed using only the letters of the dedicatee’s name, each of which must appear at least once per stanza.

“The poem, which is 20 lines long, should begin and end by addressing the dedicatee in some way. The title must also be an anagram of their name.”

This allowed me to directly address relevant personalities: David Cameron, David Attenborough, Maurice Sendak and a few more.

Who in contemporary poetry do you admire?

Many mainstream magazines exclude disenfranchised writers and the writing modes central to their practice. In those spaces, everything tends to just melt into a generalised “best-of-British poetry.”

Yet if a poet’s work is inclusive, intersectional and concerned with representing disenfranchised writers, I’m probably going to read it.

On that list are radical feminist and disability/crip work and poetries of race, colour and queerdom.

One group that’s given me more confidence in writing my own bodily experience is the disability or “crip” poetics movement in America.

Mike Northern, Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Fiona Black and all the poets collected in Wordgathering online, along with the Beauty Is A Verb anthology and feminist works breaking down the barriers, are writing my revolution.

Species is published by Nine Arches Press at £8.99.

British anti-World War I Sassoon poem was censored


This video from Britain is called Suicide in the Trenches by Siegfried Sassoon: Read by Stephen Graham | Remembering World War 1.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Unpublished Siegfried Sassoon poems get first reading – and show anti-war sentiment was toned down before publication

Phrases like ‘you’re great at murder’ were later scratched from ‘Atrocities

Claudia Pritchard

Sunday 06 July 2014

Two unpublished poems by Siegfried Sassoon will be given a public reading for the first time today by the actor Samuel West, among them the first draft of “Atrocities”, in which Sassoon is much more direct about the visceral act of killing the enemy than in the later, published version.

Phrases that were later scratched include “you’re great at murder”. And the final lines, which the owner of the original manuscript, Annette Campbell-White, says finish “quite limply” with “still talking big and boozing in a bar”, contain the phrase “gulp their blood in ghoulish dreams”. Where Sassoon originally wrote “How did you kill them?”, he later revised this to “How did you do them in?”

Ms Campbell-White, a Sassoon specialist and collector, bought the poems at auction last year. “The war department or publishers thought that ‘Atrocities’ was a little too harsh, and so when it was published it was modified,” she said. At the time of the Bonhams sale she also acquired a large exercise book, Sassoon’s “daybook” from the 1920s, containing two dozen or so poems illustrated by the poet himself. Among them is a homage to Beethoven – “hail him heroic, honour him as great” – which West will also read at a music and poetry event in Buckinghamshire.

“The poems are very good. I am amazed they have never been published,” said Ms Campbell-White. “They are about all aspects of life, nature … a sort of poetic diary.”

Today’s event, called “Peace in Our Time?” forms part of the Garsington Opera summer season in a theatre in the grounds of the home of millionaire art collector Mark Getty, heir to John Paul Getty, at Wormsley, near High Wycombe. Garsington has an association with Sassoon through the socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell, owner of Garsington Manor from 1914 to 1928. It was at the manor that the operas were staged, from 1989 to 2011, before moving to Wormsley.

At Garsington Hall, which he visited regularly, Sassoon was encouraged by Lady Ottoline to take a stand against the way in which the First World War was proceeding. He had served with distinction until openly questioning the purpose of the war in 1917. He had received the Military Cross, but threw his medal into the Mersey. Only admission to the psychiatric hospital at Craiglockhart near Edinburgh spared him a court martial. He died in 1967.

Garsington was a haven for artists, intellectuals and conscientious objectors, including D H Lawrence and Lytton Strachey. Conscientious objectors, including members of the Bloomsbury circle, escaped prosecution by working on the farm there.

In 1917, Sassoon wrote a letter called “Finished With the War: A Soldier’s Declaration”. In it he said: “I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects… would now be attainable by negotiation.”

“Sassoon’s best poetry was written at the time of the war,” said Ms Campbell-White. “It was something to do with the stress, adrenaline and terror of that time that made the writing of the First World War poets so extraordinary. Sassoon remained a fine poet, but if Rupert Brooke, for example, had come back, what would he have become?”

Dave Sherry tells Tomáš Tengely-Evans he wants his new book Empire and Revolution to take on the elite’s attempt to whitewash the First World War: here.

English poem on Hillsborough football disaster


This video from Britain is called Orgreave/Hillsborough: South Yorkshire Police Cover-Up?

By Carroll Ann Dunn in England:

They’ll Never Walk Alone

Wednesday 18th June 2014

The fans had come to Sheffield
To see their idols play,
Their chants were loud but happy
On that fatal April day.

The fans were all excited,
convinced their team would win;
Police had packed them tighter
And ever tighter in.

The crush grew suffocating
And fans soon realised
A tragedy was happening
Before their very eyes.

Though pressed against the railings
Like cattle in a pound,
Some fans were helping others
Climb out to safer ground;

Though they could hardly breathe,
They hoisted children high,
Passed them along to safety
Then stayed behind to die.

Police would blame them later:
‘The fans were drunk’ they lied;
That rag the Sun abused as scum
The innocent who died
.

The inquest (well, the first one)
Claimed ‘Accidental Death’;
An insult on an injury
That took away our breath.

Now Merseyside united,
The red side with the blue;
As purple as a bruise,
One colour from the two.

Through all their bruising battles
They were bloodied but unbowed;
They brought us a new unity,
They did our city proud;

They showed us our true colours
These loved ones of the dead,
To find some kind of peace of mind,
To help put pain to bed.

Will we walk with these families,
Now that the end’s in sight
For justice for the ninety six?
Will we? Too fucking right.

Carol Ann Dunn was born and raised in Liverpool but has lived in Leeds for over 30 years, working as a teacher and trainer across West Yorkshire. A singer of both traditional and choral music, she began writing poetry and ballads on a course at Maddy Prior‘s Stones Barn and does so on subjects that are important to her, such as this one.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter.

UK: Hillsborough disaster inquest reveals safety violations by stadium operator: here.