Islamisation of Birmingham, England, satiric poem

This 2007 video from England is about Irish poet Kevin Higgins poetry reading for Oxfam.

By Kevin Higgins in Britain:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Poetry on the Picketline

The Islamisation of Birmingham

Most reckon it was the day Ozzy Osbourne
walked out the gates of Winson Green Prison,
ready to commit acts of musical terrorism
in a desperate effort to undermine Christ,
that the City began turning instead
to Mecca. All agree

the situation grew
more serious each time Roy Wood sang
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
in the hope we wouldn’t notice
the big mad beard he got
at a training camp in Pakistan.

Spaghetti Junction was already
jammed with Muslim-only vehicles,
the night the Mulberry Bush
and Tavern in the Town
were blown up by Muslims
disguised as IRA men.
Since then every nil-all draw
between Aston Villa and Birmingham City
has been celebrated by stadiums half-full
of nothing but Muslims.

Truth is, it started way back,
the night Chamberlain signed
his secret treaty with Adolf, agreeing
in the event of war with Russia to hand
the birthplace of Enoch Powell
over to the Islamists.

These days the local economy is mostly
Jaguar Cars and Cadbury’s chocolate
being secretly manufactured by Muslims
for export to terrorist countries busy
thinking up new ways to kill us.

This is a satire on the remarks of [Rupert Murdoch-owned] Fox News commentator Steve Emerson, who said that “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go.”

Note: All people, pubs, companies and football teams mentioned in this poem are native to Birmingham, with the exception of the late Adolf Hitler, who was born in the small Austrian town of Braunau am Inn, though his people did visit Birmingham from 1940 to 1943.

Poetry on the Picket Line is a squad of like-minded poets putting themselves about to read their work on picket lines, in the spirit of solidarity. Invitations to rallies etc. welcome, contact


Jewish poet Norbert Hirschhorn interviewed

Norbert Hirschhorn's new poetry bookBy Leo Garib in Britain:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Interview: Poetic Justice

‘At this stage of my life my purpose is to connect the younger generation with history’, NORBERT HIRSCHHORN tells Leo Garib

TWO Jewish families pile onto carts and flee world war one as it rages across what is now southern Poland. A couple of decades later, their children are a step ahead of the nazis, escaping Vienna to London. Those left behind perish.

Relatives in Greece slip into the mountains when the nazis invade the island where they live and fight with the resistance. After world war two, surviving members of the Hirschhorn family emigrate to the US, where young Norbert Hirschhorn becomes a doctor, works in some of the poorest countries, develops a rehydration system that saves 50 million lives and is made an “American Health Hero” by President Clinton.

Finally he retires and becomes a respected poet.

It’s the stuff of Hollywood, but Norbert Hirschhorn, who recently turned 80, is in no hurry for a posthumous movie. “I hope I’ve got another 10 years left. On the other hand”, he winks, tapping his forehead, “there’s probably a little senior cognitive decline in there, so maybe I need to wrap my life up.”

In fact, he is, if anything, embarking on a new mission to bring his family history of refugees back to life. His latest book of poems, Stone. Bread. Salt. is partly a moving meditation on his wide-ranging life and partly a celebration of his footloose Yiddish heritage. But it’s another book he calls the “most important I’ve been involved in.”

It’s a privately published collection of family letters from the last couple of centuries. He stumbled across them six years ago, was instantly struck, and had them printed privately for his family. In Yiddish and German, they reveal the intimacy of quotidian life for Jewish tradespeople, their terror at being uprooted and going on the run and the struggle of starting all over again.

Included are letters from his mother, who never recovered after being forced to leave her parents in Vienna. They couldn’t get permits and were exterminated. There are also letters from his uncle, a socialist who joined the Greek anti-nazi resistance before escaping the murderous right-wing regime Britain installed after the war. Copies of the books are held in museums.

“I cry when I read them”, Hirschhorn says. “I really cry and I want my grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins to feel their power too. “At this stage of my life, my purpose is to connect the younger generation with history and show what they can bring to life by understanding what their forbears lived through.”

Later, he quit a prestigious teaching post at a US medical school where he had invented the discipline of rehydrating sick children and went to Lebanon, where he met Syrian doctor Fouad M Fouad, his closest friend. He helped translate some of Fouad’s poems for inclusion in his latest book. Now Hirschhorn has one foot in north west London and another in the Lebanese capital Beirut. “When you spend time in another place, you respect the way people are, you look for commonalities and respect the differences”, he says.

“That’s one of the great gifts working in public health has given me.”

The importance of history is understanding the present, he stresses, particularly when the ghosts of the 1920s and 1930s are looming large.

“It’s bullshit that the UK, the US, France, Italy and others complain about refugees. During world war one, Vienna took in hundreds of thousands of people and in the last few years Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million. …

“War and disaster force people to start all over again and only some manage. Just think of Grenfell Tower. People can absorb change, find sustenance from family and friends, but we have to give them a chance. Besides, refugees contribute wherever they are.

“Still, the fascists in America, Britain, Italy, Austria, Hungary want to stir up hatred. The fascists never went away and we’ve got to resist. The blinkered intolerance they espouse is “the exact opposite of what Judaism teaches us”, he adds.

“Nobody learns from history unless you keep reminding them. You can’t give up doing it.” Which he won’t, he chuckles.

“At my age, I’m only just starting to mature — 80, I’m finally becoming a mensch.”

Stone. Bread. Salt: Poems by Norbert Hirschhorn is published by Holland Park Press, £8.

The Disappeared

What makes us human is soil.
Even landfill of bones, shredded jeans;
mass graves paved over for parking.

What makes us human are portraits
— graduation, weddings
mounted in house shrines and on fliers, Have You Seen?

Names inscribed around memorial pools
or incised on granite. Names waiting,
waiting for that slide of DNA, or any piece of flesh —
for the haunted to be put to rest.

What makes us human is soil.
To stare into a hole in the ground,
fill with the deceased, throw earth down,
place a stone. Bread. Salt.

For Fouad Mohammed Fouad

New Tolkien book, The Fall of Gondolin

This November 2017 video is called Lore of Middle-earth: Gondolin, Part 1; The Rise.

This November 2017 video is called Lore of Middle-earth: Gondolin, Part 2; The Fall.

The Fall of Gondolin, ‘new’ JRR Tolkien book, to be published in 2018. Edited by his son Christopher, Tolkien’s tale of a reluctant hero defending a city was written while the author was in hospital after the Battle of the Somme: here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

One last time back to Middle-earth

Tolkien fans can enjoy the fantasy world of the English writer one last time. This week The Fall of Gondolin is published, based on surviving fragments edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher.

The story is set thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The protagonist visits the elven town of Gondolin, which is attacked by the dark ruler Morgoth, predecessor of Sauron.

Tolkien himself once called the story “the first real story” about Middle-earth. He wrote it in 1917, when he recovered from health complaints that he had incurred at the Battle of the Somme.

Tolkien eventually did not publish the work. He continued to write stories about the same fantasy world, which led to The Hobbit in 1937, followed by the Ring trilogy in 1954 and 1955.

Certain fragments from the new book will surely be familiar to fans. Thus the city is besieged by a group of balrogs. Such a monster fights to the death in the Ring cycle with the wizard Gandalf. The sentence ‘You shall not pass’ from that fight became a classic film quote because of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation.

Christopher Tolkien assumes that the oeuvre of his father, who died in 1973, is complete now. He himself, now 93, no longer plans to edit new books, he writes in the preface of the book.

American screech-owls inspire children’s book

The Owl in the Yard. Book cover courtesy of June Kasperski Wild

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, 23 August 2018:

We Sparked a Kid’s Book

We were delighted to learn that the Right Bird, Right House tool on our website helped to inspire a new children’s book! June Kasperski Wild reached out to tell us that she and her family were researching nest boxes when they found our website. After downloading our free owl box plan, what followed was an adventure in learning about their backyard Eastern Screech-Owls‘ nesting habits. Ms. Wild was inspired to write a long poem, which forms the foundation of the new book The Owl in the Yard.

A freelance writer, June credits NestWatch as the spark that set her creativity in motion:

“Many thanks to NestWatch for the inspiration. Researching and building the birdhouse and then viewing the owl family wouldn’t have been possible without your help! This was an amazing time for our family. One that we will never forget!”

We’re so happy that our free resources brought such joyful memories to the Wild family.

Cowbirds, cuckoos and changeling stories

This 2016 video says about itself:

Brood parasitism: American Robin rejects a Cowbird egg

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) rejects an egg of Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) – Ithaca – New York State – USA, 2015.

Video credit: Analía V. López, Miri Dainsonm, Mark E. Hauber.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, 23 August 2018:

How did the bizarre folklore of the “changeling” child first enter European literature? Perhaps an avian reproductive strategy called “brood parasitism” served as inspiration. Brood parasitism is how some birds avoid the work of raising young by laying eggs in the nests of other birds.

In our latest blog post, we explore the origins of the fairy changeling lore by examining some real-life changelings (i.e., cowbirds and cuckoos). Read on for a fanciful new take on folk stories as they relate to nesting biology.

Swedish birds down warplane

This tweet by a Swedish daily paper today is about the warplane crash about eight kilometer from Ronneby town today. Such a warplane costs many millions, according to the Expressen report.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Swedish warplane crashes after collision with flock of birds

In the south of Sweden a Gripen warplane of the armed forces has crashed. The pilot escaped with the ejection seat. He has been taken to the hospital and is well.

The plane flew quite low when it collided with a flock of big birds. Then the pilot got trouble with the airplane control. He did not manage to return to Ronneby airport and decided to use his ejection seat.

The plane crashed near the airport, causing a fire. Residents were advised to stay away from the area because the smoke emitted by the fire was poisonous.

Unfortunately, neither the Swedish nor the Dutch report say which species of ‘big birds’ collided with the plane. And whether any birds were injured or killed. It is good that the pilot is well. But I wish the same for the birds.

The air is the birds’ biotope. Planes, certainly warplanes, are intruders there.

Ronneby is well known from a Swedish story about big birds. In The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf, migrating geese arrive at Ronneby river to sleep. Smirre the red fox, their enemy, wants to attack them. But the geese are too close to the wild water for the fox to catch. Smirre then incites a pine marten and an otter to try to kill the geese. However, Nils Holgersson, a boy turned into an elf, the protagonist of the book, saves the lives of the geese.

One should hope there is still some Nils Holgersson in Sweden to protect the lives of geese and other birds from warplanes.

Italian right-wing government persecutes anti-mafia author

This 28 May 2016 video says about itself:

‘I’ve lived with death threats for 10 years’: Roberto Saviano – BBC News

Speaking out about the mafia can come at a price and for writer Roberto Saviano that has meant 10 years living under police protection. In a book published in 2006, he exposed the activities of the Camorra, a mafia organisation based in Naples, described as Italy’s most bloody and ruthless criminal group. Matthew Price spoke to Mr Saviano, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, about living with a death threat from the mafia.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Gomorra author Saviano sued after denunciation by Lega minister

The public prosecutor in Rome prosecutes Roberto Saviano, the writer of the bestseller Gomorrah, for defamation and slander. Minister Salvini of the Interior, also leader of the right-wing … Lega [party], had filed a complaint against him.

Saviano is a fierce critic of the Italian government and in particular of the Lega. In the media and on Twitter and Facebook, he regularly criticizes fiercely Salvini’s harsh migration policy. The writer also denounces the, in his eyes, dubious Lega financial sponsors.

The tweet that prompted Salvini to report the writer dates from more than a month ago, when the dead bodies of a woman and a child were found in the sea near the Italian coast. “What joy do you derive from the death of innocent children at sea?” tweeted Saviano. “The hatred that you have sown will turn against you.”

Nickname of the mafia

Saviano also called Salvini the “minister of Mala Vita”, which is one of the mafia‘s nicknames. The Lega minister has already threatened to stop the police protection that the writer receives because of death threats from the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra.

These threats came after the publication of the novel Gomorrah in 2006. The book is a non-fiction work about the Neapolitan mafia. Later on, a TV series was also made based on it.