New poetry books reviewed

This video from Britain says about itself:

13 January 2014

Dannie Abse reads from Speak, Old Parrot at the T S Eliot Prize Readings, held at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Dannie Abse is a poet, author, doctor and playwright. He has written and edited more than sixteen books of poetry, as well as fiction and a range of other publications, in a long and varied writing life. His most recent novel, The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds & Dr Glas (Robson Books, 2002), was long-listed for the Booker Prize and his diaries, The Presence (Vintage, 2008), won the Wales Book of the Year Award. He is president of the Welsh Academy of Letters and was awarded a CBE in 2012.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

Words of wisdom as old parrot speaks out

Thursday 27th February 2014

Andy Croft reviews some of the latest poetry

Dannie Abse has published over 30 books but few as satisfying or as enjoyable as Speak Old Parrot (Hutchinson, £15).

Now in his 90th year, Abse is naturally concerned with the passage of time: “profligate, I wasted time/- those yawning postponements on rainy days,/those paperhat hours of benign frivolity./Now time wastes me.”

There are some great poems here about the comedy of ageing, like The Old Gods – Trident has lost his trident, Saturn has time on his hands and Bacchus has cirrhosis of the liver – and some fine poems about youth and memory like Cricket Bat, Moonbright and Sunbright.

But best of all is the brilliant Winged Back, in which Abse recalls the “recurring decimal of calamity” of our age: “Famine. Murder. Pollinating fires./When they stubbed one out another flared./Statesmen lit their cigars from the embers./They still do. With every enrichment/an injury. They bicker and banquet,/confer and dally, pull on cigars that glow/with blood-light. And all my years,/like the arson of Troy, are elsewhere. Ashes.”

Rob Hindle’s Yoke And Arrows (Smokestack, £8.95) takes its title from “el yugo y las flechas,” the emblem of the 15th-century Catholic monarchs who expelled the Moors and Jews from Spain.

It was also the symbol of the falange militia who murdered the radical poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca in the first weeks of the Spanish civil war. Here is one of these Black Squads listening to the singing of the prisoners about to be executed: “The night goes quietly./In the stove’s red cowl the fire collapses/a little: a brief yellow light jumps into the room,/shocking the men’s faces, glistening teeth/and tongues. Through the floorboards come/voices like the voices of the damned, singing/lullabies and songs of the country.”

Kevin Powers served in the US army in Iraq. At the heart of his first book of poems, Letter Composed During A Lull In The Fighting (Sceptre, £12.99), is a series of meditations on the loneliness of the soldier in a strange landscape – “the unending sun, the bite of sweat in eyes” – and in a meaningless conflict: “war is just us/making little pieces of metal/pass through each other.”

There are no issues on a battlefield except survival: “for one day at least I don’t have to decide/between dying and shooting a little boy.” And Powers knows that there can be no survivors: “how scared I am still, alone/in bars these three years later.”

The strongest poems in the book, like Death Mother And Child and the Extraordinary Improvised Explosive Device are about the necessity – and the impossibility – of writing about the experience: “If this poem had fragments/of metal coming out of it, if these words were your best friend’s leg,/dangling… If this poem had wires for words,/you would want someone to pay./If this poem had wires coming out of it,/you wouldn’t read it./If these words were made of metal/they could kill us all. But these/are only words. Go on,/they are safe to fold and put into your pocket./Even better, they are safe/to be forgotten.”

The New York-Puerto Rican poet Martin Espada has worked as a bouncer, a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman, a petrol attendant and a tenant lawyer. His new collection, The Meaning Of The Shovel (Smokestack, £8.95), is a celebration of work, of the emotional and often invisible landscape of labour, “the rude Mechanicals: the tailor, the weaver, the tinker, the bellows-mender.”

It is by turns grim, cynical, funny – and revolutionary. Here is Espada digging latrines in Nicaragua: “I dig because yesterday/I saw four walls of photographs:/the faces of volunteers/in high school uniforms/who taught campesinos to read,/bringing an alphabet/sandwiched in notebooks/to places where the mist never rises/from the trees… I dig because I have hauled garbage/and pumped gas and cut paper/and sold encyclopaedias door to door./I dig, digging until the passport in my back pocket saturates with dirt,/because here I work for nothing/and for everything.”

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Maduro to propose Puerto Rico’s membership at upcoming CELAC Summit

Originally posted on JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba:

January  23 2014

nicolas maduro  with pr flagVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he will propose the membership of Puerto Rico at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, whose second summit will be held January 28 and 29 in Havana.

During a forum in Caracas for the independence of Puerto Rico, attended by Puerto Rican independence leaders, Maduro said that Venezuela will propose that the regional bloc declares Latin America as a territory free of colonialism, since he said, it is a shame that there are still colonies in this part of the world.
“Puerto Rico is in the pending agenda of Liberator Simon Bolivar and Latin America and the Caribbean  are now uniting, and Latin American unity was born right here, Maduro noted.
The Venezuelan head of state called for the renewal of supportive actions with Puerto Rico as he said that “we have to cultivate solidarity of Venezuelans with the fight of…

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Leatherback turtles satellite tags research

This video from Puerto Rico says about itself:

Leatherback Turtle Nesting in Daylight on Vieques – Very Rare! (subtítulos CC en español)

3 April 2012

This leatherback sea turtle was filmed nesting during the day at Navío beach on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

Daytime nesting is very rare for this endangered species. The eggs were transported by the DNRA up the beach, away from the waterline.

This beach has an ever shifting coastline because of the direction it faces and many times large sections of sand are washed away overnight with a good storm.

From the Cornell Chronicle in the USA:

Jan. 21, 2014

Satellite tags, fishing data reveal turtle danger zones

By Krishna Ramanujan

One of the biggest threats to critically endangered leatherback turtles is bycatch from industrial fishing in the open oceans.

Now, a team of researchers has satellite-tracked 135 leatherbacks with transmitters to determine the turtles’ patterns of movement in the Pacific Ocean. Combined with fisheries data, the researchers entered the information into a computer model to predict bycatch hotspots in the Pacific.

With this information, researchers and authorities hope to work with fisheries managers to avoid fishing when and where there is higher risk of also catching turtles in the area.

Though the ocean is vast and the turtles’ movements are dynamic and unpredictable, the small chance of an individual leatherback getting hooked or caught in fishing lines is multiplied by 760 million in the Pacific Ocean alone, said Stephen Morreale, referring to the number of longline hooks set annually in the Pacific. Morreale is a Cornell senior research associate and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and a co-author of the study published online Jan. 7 in the Proceedings of [the] Royal Society B.

“It’s a waste,” he said. “This is not a case of people trying merely trying to feed their families. The fishing industry does not want to catch leatherbacks, and the turtles that are caught are just discarded.”

In the Pacific, the researchers identified two genetically distinct populations, one western Pacific population that nests in Indonesia and feeds off the California coast, and another eastern Pacific population that nests in Costa Rica and Mexico and migrates along a corridor past the Galapagos Islands to a broad pelagic zone known as the South Pacific Gyre.

The maps reveal seasonal and geographic areas of greatest risk. For the western Pacific nesting populations, areas of highest risk included water around the Indonesian Islands near primary nesting beaches, and for the eastern Pacific populations, areas of greatest risk were in the South Pacific Gyre.

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest sea turtles and the most massive reptile, reaching maximum weights of close to 2,000 pounds. The leathery-shelled turtles, which feed on jellyfish, use their flippers like wings to swim vast distances at surprising speeds; they also dive to depths of 1,200 meters, shuttling to and from the surface to breathe.

Once they hatch, males spend their entire lifetimes in the water. They take up to 20 years to reach maturity. As adults, females return throughout their lifetimes to the same nesting beach to lay clutches of 80 to 100 eggs in the sand, which they may repeat every two weeks over the course of a nesting season. Once they have laid all their eggs, they may not return for three to five years.

Because of the many risks over decades that leatherbacks face before they reach maturity, “an adult’s [ecological] value is huge,” said Morreale. Also, since so little has been known about their movements once they enter the ocean, conservationists have historically focused on protecting beach areas where they can be monitored and protected.

But “their protection at sea is extremely important,” and only recently, through satellite transmitters, are researchers beginning to understand the turtles’ complex habits in the ocean, which will hopefully lead to better protection, said Morreale.

Next steps for this research include acquiring more Pacificwide data for interactions between fisheries and turtles, as well as data for the Atlantic Ocean, Morreale added.

John Roe, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, was the paper’s lead author, along with Morreale and Frank Paladino at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, while Drexel University professor James Spotila assembled the research team.

Funding was provided mainly by the Lenfest Oceans Program.

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Turtles and tortoises in Puerto Rico and Britain

This video from Puerto Rico says about itself:

Leatherback Turtle Nesting in Daylight on Vieques – Very Rare! (subtítulos CC en español)

3 Apr 2012

This leatherback sea turtle was filmed nesting during the day at Navío beach on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

Video: Karl Alexander

Daytime nesting is very rare for this endangered species. The eggs were transported by the DNRA up the beach, away from the waterline.

This beach has an ever shifting coastline because of the direction it faces and many times large sections of sand are washed away overnight with a good storm.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Turtles and terrapins succeed where Hitler could not

Friday 29th November 2013

Invading reptile species have assimilated rather well in Britain, monopolising many a local pond or river, says PETER FROST

Imagine the scene. It is August 1988 on a holiday beach near Harlech in Wales. A huge beast has washed up on the beach. It is nearly the size and shape of a Volkswagen beetle car.

In fact it is a leatherback turtle. And at just under ten foot/3m long nose to tail, and weighing in at just under a tonne it is the biggest leatherback ever seen anywhere in the world.

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), sometimes called the lute turtle, is the largest of all living turtles.

Unlike most other sea turtles it has no bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by oily flesh and tough leathery skin.

Today sightings of leatherback turtles are increasing all around the Welsh coast and in south-west England. They are are drawn here by the high numbers of jellyfish – the main diet of these huge marine reptiles.

Sadly many turtles risk death or serious injury by mistaking the many polythene bags and other plastic litter that floats in the sea as its jellyfish diet.

The leatherback turtles lay their eggs on Caribbean beaches before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to feed in Welsh coastal waters.

To those lucky enough to spot one they are one of the most spectacular species to visit our coastal waters.

On inland waters too turtles and terrapins are becoming more and more common. There is a healthy colony at the London Wetland Centre at Barnes.

I often see them in the ponds at Cambridge University botanical gardens.

The rangers on Hampstead Heath‘s ponds in London wage a constant battle with the sliders more at home in the waters of Florida’s Everglades.

Every now and again the invasion excites tabloid journalists, “Terror Turtles” or even “Terrorpins” make very good headlines but are probably a bit exaggerated.

Even so more and more these exotic visitors – some as big as dinner plates – are being spotted on canals, slow flowing rivers and in ponds and lakes.

The main problem probably goes back to the time when thousands were bought as pets when the Mutant Ninja Turtles were the latest thing on TV and in pet shops.

The terrapins soon got too big for their tanks or nipped their young owners once too often. Just as likely the kids got bored and went on to another latest craze.

Thousands of pet turtles and terrapins got dumped in rivers, lakes and ponds. Most died but a few flourished, some even managed to breed and now we have a small but growing population of these fascinating and colourful reptiles.

Most of them are either red-eared terrapins or snapping turtles the two commonest species imported for the pet trade.

The red-eared terrapin is relatively harmless but can give a human a painful nip. Many of them also carry salmonella.

A snapping turtle is a much more aggressive animal. It will kill young ducks and a bite from its jaws can easily sever a human finger.

Britain actually has no native Chelonia, the family that includes tortoises, terrapins and turtles except the marine turtles that visit our shores.

Any terrapins, fresh water turtles or tortoises living here are invasive species and as such can undermine established food chains and interfere with natural biodiversity.

Many years ago various desert tortoises were cheap and popular pets. They arrived from north Africa as ballast in ships docking in British ports. Most died on the journey but the few that survived were sold cheaply by pet shops.

Many a small garden had its pet tortoise and once established they could live for a very long time.

This trade in cheap tortoises forced many wild tortoise populations into extinction and now the trade has been made illegal with the animals protected by law.

Puerto Rican music and WikiLeaks

This music video is called Calle 13 – Multi_Viral (Lyric Video).

This video from the USA says about itself:

Calle 13’s René “Residente” Pérez on Revolutionary Music, WikiLeaks & Puerto Rican Independence

15 Nov 2013

Calle 13, one of Latin America’s most popular bands, released a new song this week featuring an unlikely collaborator — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The song, “Multi_Viral,” also features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and the Palestinian singer Kamilya Jubran. To create the lyrics, Calle 13 lead singer and songwriter René Pérez asked followers on Twitter to express their social justice concerns in a live brainstorming session with Assange. This is not the first time Calle 13 has made headlines for its political work.

In 2005, the group quickly recorded and released a song about Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos just hours after he was shot dead by the FBI. They have called for the release of independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who has spent more than 32 years in jail, and have spoken out about police brutality and government spying. We speak with Pérez, better known as “Residente.” His group has won a record 19 Latin Grammy Awards.

Haz click aqui para ver la entrevista en español (Watch the interview in Spanish here).

Read the full transcript here.

Harold Lopez Nussa Trio: here.

Puerto Rican oysters to clean polluted lagoon

Oysters in baskets for Condado Lagoon

From Caribbean Business:

Oysters deployed to clean PR lagoon

By CB Online Staff

Researchers in Puerto Rico are seeding the Condado Lagoon with native oysters in a pilot project aimed at improving the quality of water.

Some four dozen baskets each packed with roughly 100 live oysters were “planted” in two feet of water at three strategic spots in the lagoon on Thursday as the San Juan Bay Estuary Program research effort got under way.

The yearlong experiment in the heart of the San Juan tourism district is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, but similar projects in the Gulf of Mexico and off New York have shown that oysters are effective in cleaning pollutants and improving water clarity.

“This works. Oysters are biological filters and the results have been positive,” said Jorge Bauzá, an oceanographer who is heading the Condado Lagoon project with other researchers and volunteers.

He noted that the Army Corps of Engineers calls for the seeding of oyster colonies during the construction of piers or other maritime infrastructure.

“They understand that this creates habitats and improves water quality,” Bauzá said.

The colonies of mangrove oysters planted on Thursday are in three spots with 16 baskets each. The baskets are tagged to let people know the oysters part of and experiment are not to be harvested in a lagoon that is popular with swimmers and paddlers.

“These oysters can filter 30 or 40 gallons of water per day,” Bauzá said.

The sites were picked for their proximity to sewer drains that carry contaminants. Researchers will compare water quality over time at the oysters beds and in areas without oysters. Monthly readings will gauge turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH and chlorophyll levels.

“Our hypothesis is that the water quality at the oyster beds will improve as they filter water 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Baúza said.

The long-term plan is to use the results to garner government support for establishing oyster colonies in other coastal areas around the island.

The project is backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and permitted by the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources, the Environmental Quality Board and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This project is part of our broader citizen scientists platform in which people become active participants in restoration instead of just observers,” said San Juan Bay Estuary Program Executive Director Javier Laureano. “They convert from spectators into agents of change.”