Willow warbler in Ireland, poem

This June 2019 video says about itself:

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) Singing. Recorded in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.

By Francis Devine in Britain today:

Willow warbler

Hearing a Willow Warbler on Howth Head, April 2020

Half baffled by the wind,
there it is, first of the year,
the sallypecker’s trilling song,
flittering somewhere among
saffron whin, matted tangle
of bracken, couch and briar.

It is a thrilling, tonal emollient,
soothing lockdown despair,
lifting the spirit, a welcome
renewal, its first-thing-on-arrival
carnal clarion, unintended for us,
but a beautiful misplacement.

Poem on police brutality

This 10 June 2020 video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

Attorney Provides Free Representation to Arrested Protesters | In This Together | NowThis

‘I don’t consider myself to be picking a side. I’m just doing what’s right.’ — Austin-based attorney Tycha Kimbrough is providing legal representation to arrested protesters free of charge.

In US news and current events today, criminal defense lawyer and family attorney Tycha Kimbrough is representing BLM and George Floyd protesters who have been wrongfully arrested. Here’s what inspired her to offer her legal guidance pro bono.

By Sophie Sparham in Britain today:

The Right to Remain by Sophie Sparham

Silence is a bullet that my taxes paid for,
A Judas kiss, gifted to black Jesus as he
Bleeds out on the sidewalk and we profit a
Vineyard out of him. My quiet, a boot to hisNeck, a fire to her house, a question swinging
From a tree. Won’t somebody speak? Silence

Is not a right when all your teeth have been
Punched out, your tongue tear-gassed and your
Hope murdered. When your body is a protest,
Living in a country that raped the freedom
Out of you.

My ears mourn, they can’t bury another
Voice. So now I cry with my teeth, let this fist
Become a eulogy, let me raise it like a flag.
Make no mistake, they want you chalk white,
An outline on concrete, a space,
Where a body once stood.

Writer Sophie Sparham is from Derby and has written commissions for BBC Radio 4, The V&A and the People’s History Museum. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email info@smokestack-books.co.uk

Cuban poem on George Floyd: here.

After Whitney row and Minneapolis outrage, Warren Kanders will stop making tear gas.

Black Lives Matter mass movement, a poem

This 9 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Seattle Police Use Tear Gas On Protesters Days After Ban | NowThis

Police fired tear gas and flash bombs at protesters only 3 days after Seattle banned the use of tear gas.

In US news and current events today, as Black Lives Matter protests continue around the U.S., Seattle police are still using deploying tear gas on protesters despite the city’s ban.

By Fred Voss from the USA today:


Today the Young People Are Marching in the Streets

The young are marching
young as the Golden Rule
the first human eye turned toward the heavens in wonder
young as a raindrop
a hammer blow cracking the Bastille
seeing his first angel
a knee is on our neck
but the young are shouting
strong and beautiful as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet
Billie Holiday’s croon
a knee is on the neck of the black man and the brown man and the homeless man
and the homeless woman and the working man and the working woman
a knee is on the neck of freedom
but the young are marching
young as Rosa Parks’ feet planted firmly in the front of the bus
Frederick Douglass
wrestling his slave-master down to the ground
Joe Hill yelling, “Organize!”
the dawn sun burning on Walt Whitman’s open road horizon
a knee is on the neck of George Floyd and the poor
and the poem and Vincent Van Gogh with a sunflower
in his paintbrush
and this story is as old
as Bessie Smith’s blues and James Baldwin’s sad eyes and every man
without hope who ever thought
of throwing in the towel but today
the young are marching in the street
marching for the homeless man trying to sleep on a sidewalk
the man from El Salvador
cheated out of his wages as he slaves
in a downtown L.A. sweatshop factory today the young
are marching and shouting and singing young
as Martin Luther King’s dream
and the flame of the human spirit that must never
go out.

US poet and novelist Fred Voss is a machinist, who chronicles and reflects on his working life in numerous outstanding collections, the latest of which is Robots Have No Bones, published by Culture Matters. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email info@smokestack-books.co.uk

George Floyd murdered, police, protests and poetry

This 2 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Police Repression Backfires As Protests Multiply

Professor Lester Spence argues America is facing two pandemics: COVID-19 and political policing.

By Fran Lock in Britain, 2 June 2020:

Breath by Fran Lock

On the murder of George Floyd

inside this symmetrical fiction of skins, we do not court
the carnivore attentions of a cop with eyes like bullicante
glass. we do not wear our reservoirs. we do not bear our
freight of names upon the face; find a dirty jest of us in all
the ugly campaign prosodies of power. death, persistent
and repeating. our dying, sanctioned by habit. this habit
of skin. yes, we’ve felt our paddy slanguage also choked.
but no: that cop will never twist our workaholic wrists
behind our back because. and just because. such luxury,
this silence. to breathe. if breath could split this pidgin
midnight into mercy. if poems could. if meter weren’t this
proxy skin, a creditable flesh, i’d breathe. and breathe this
swift and futile morning out. whose name is not a slogan.
whose skin is not a flag. whose saying should be supple
love. this poem, that takes up more space on the page
than some people do in the whole wide world. white
space of the page. white space of a lung. could open
this pieta! into seeming air.

Fran Lock’s most recent collections are Contains Mild Peril (2019) and Raptures and Captures (2019).

This 2 June 2020 video from the USA is called Los Angeles Police Union Lawyer Tweets “SHOOT PROTESTORS!”

British health care, poem

This 27 November 2019 British Labour party video says about itself:

REVEALED: the truth about the Conservatives, Donald Trump and our NHS.

By Sally Flynt in Britain, 3 May 2020:


Free for All by Sally Flint

i.m Doll Warner

Before she turned 10 they called her
Little Mother. The oldest of 11 siblings,
she knew about ailments — how to attach
string tight to a doorknob and extract a tooth.
She could tempt a TB victim with broth and starve
a fever. She knew diphtheria meant death,
that few people had money for medicine,
or a midwife. She’d race to a stranger’s house and boil
water, prepare rags and, often in the dark hours,
persuade a doctor to help for free. For years
she witnessed birth and rigor mortis, saved pennies
to put on dead children’s lids. If she was still alive she’d hunt
down her prayer book, find God and scream to Bevan:
Quick! Someone! Save the Nation’s Health.

Sally Flint is the founder-editor of Riptide short-story journal and Canto Poetry at the University of Exeter.

Aneurin Bevan was the Labour party minister who after World War II founded the National Health Service, ending a time when poop people could not adfford medicine.

Coronavirus disaster in Britain, poem

This 28 April 2020 video from London, England says about itself:

UCLH staff anger over 6 colleagues dead because of lack of PPE

Remember the dead, fight for the living.

Staff at University College Hospital held a rally outside the hospital following the one minute’s silence. They vented their anger at the government over lack of PPE for all staff – and read out the names of six treasured colleagues who have lost their lives, including a porter, receptionist, clinician support, caterers and security.

Where did Britain go wrong on coronavirus?

By Annie Wilson in Britain, 29 April 2020:


‘Good morning, good morning’, the CEO said
when she met us last week outside ICU [Intensive Care Unit].
Now the patients she spoke to are half of them dead,
and we’re short of staff and oxygen too.

‘I suppose she means well,’ muttered Sue to nurse Fran.
But she did for them both with her failure to plan.

Annie Wilson is a retired teacher who lives in south-east London. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email info@smokestack-books.co.uk.

United States poets against Trump

This 1990 video from the USA is called Poetry Breaks: Martín Espada on Being a Political Poet.

By Andy Croft in Britain today:

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY POETRY: Poems with empathy and outrage

In a new collection, US poets challenge the dehumanisation of the Trump era

THE CORONAVIRUS has already brought out the best in almost everyone — our common human instincts for solidarity, compassion and co-operation. On the other hand, there are those who are working hard to remind us that the real virus is human selfishness and stupidity.

Which is why the publication of What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press, £29.50) is so timely and so welcome.

Edited by the great New York-Puerto Rican poet Martín Espada, the book contains work by more than 90 poets, including Kwame Dawes, Juan Felipe Herrera, Richard Blanco, Carolyn Forche, Patricia Smith, Robert Pinsky, Donald Hall, Sam Hamill, Elizabeth Alexander, Doug Anderson, Marge Piercy, Yusef Komunyakaa, Brian Turner, Jim Daniels, Daisy Zamora, Naomi Shihab Nye and Espada himself.

No June 2020 Rotterdam Poetry International festival

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

The Last Poets – She is

The Last Poets & Metropole Orkest

50th Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, De Doelen, 13th June 2019

From Poetry International today:

With a heavy heart Poetry International has decided to postpone the 2020 Poetry International Festival Rotterdam which was to take place June 25-28. We were looking forward to it very much. Under the theme What You Will Hear Is True, we were well underway to creating a truly unforgettable 51st festival, much as we did during our successful anniversary edition in 2019, together with poets, translators, musicians, volunteers, partners, and of course the audience. Because of the current COVID-19 crisis, and the necessary measures limiting movement that have been taken in the Netherlands and abroad, it has proven impossible to prepare a festival worthy of its participants by the end of June.

We are primarily concerned with the health of the poets, translators, partners, visitors and co-workers of the festival, and the uncertain circumstances in which they now find themselves. We will try to support them to the best of our ability.

With the decision to postpone made, we are currently exploring the possibility of presenting poets, poetry, and events online or on stage at a later point in time. In the meantime we reach out to loyal and new audiences via our websites and social media, aiming to inspire and offer some comfort and consolation in these times, for example through our Archive Tours. Soon we will also be presenting our short term plans for various Book Clubs.

We will keep sharing new information on our websites and social media. We feel encouraged by the solidarity and creativity that we have seen blossoming all around us. And we wholeheartedly thank our sponsors for their support as we take the difficult decision of postponing our festival. We wish everyone much strength and resourcefulness in these surreal times. Keep your distance, stay healthy, and support one another.

On behalf of the board and staff of Poetry International,

Inez Boogaarts, director

Poem ’Stay the F*ck at Home’, Samuel L. Jackson

This 5 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

‘Here I am, Samuel F*cking Jackson, imploring you, keep your ass at home’ — Please listen to Samuel L. Jackson and just stay home if you can.

In US news and current events today, Hollywood legend Samuel L. Jackson read the poem on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ on March 31. The poem was written by Adam Mansbach, the author of ‘Go the F**k to Sleep’, a 2011 dark humor children’s book. Watch Samuel L. Jackson read the poem: ‘Stay the F*ck at Home’ during his own quarantine.

Trump’s border wall and Wisława Szymborska poem

This 25 August 2019 video says about itself:

Kashmir border fence, forest fires endanger wildlife

It is not just humans who are suffering in the fight over Kashmir territory.

Kashmir’s dense forests are home to many species of wild cats, bears, deer, goats, monkeys and birds.

But border fencing and forest fires caused by shelling are putting the wildlife in the Himalayan region at risk.

Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid reports from the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

This is a 1976 poem by Wisława Szymborska from Poland, called Psalm.

Oh, the leaky boundaries of man-made states!
How many clouds float past them with impunity;
how much desert sand shifts from one land to another;
how many mountain pebbles tumble onto foreign soil
in provocative hops!

Need I mention every single bird that flies in the face of frontiers
or alights on the roadblock at the border?
A humble robin – still, its tail resides abroad
while its beak stays home. If that weren’t enough, it won’t stop bobbing!

Among innumerable insects, I’ll single out only the ant
between the border guard’s left and right boots
blithely ignoring the questions “Where from?” and “Where to?”

Oh, to register in detail, at a glance, the chaos
prevailing on every continent!
Isn’t that a privet on the far bank
smuggling its hundred-thousandth leaf across the river?
And who but the octopus, with impudent long arms,
would disrupt the sacred bounds of territorial waters?

And how can we talk of order overall?
when the very placement of the stars
leaves us doubting just what shines for whom?

Not to speak of the fog’s reprehensible drifting!
And dust blowing all over the steppes
as if they hadn’t been partitioned!
And the voices coasting on obliging airwaves,
that conspiratorial squeaking, those indecipherable mutters!

Only what is human can truly be foreign.
The rest is mixed vegetation, subversive moles, and wind.

Translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh

The poem expresses correctly that non-human animals, plants, rocks etc. do not care about human-made borders. Nevertheless, these borders, both in Donald Trump’s USA and in the European Union, often affect wildlife negatively.