Poetry about wildlife, competition


This video says about itself:

Australian Birds The Best Documentary

29 May 2014

Great video about Australian birds

Australia has about 800 species of bird, ranging from the tiny 8 cm Weebill to the huge, flightless Emu. It has been suggested that up to 10% of bird species may go extinct by the year 2100 as a result of climate change.

Many species of Australian birds will immediately seem familiar to visitors from the northern hemisphere – Australian wrens look and act much like northern hemisphere wrens and Australian robins seem to be close relatives of the northern hemisphere robins, but in fact the majority of Australian passerines are descended from the ancestors of the crow family, and the close resemblance is misleading: the cause is not genetic relatedness but convergent evolution.

From BirdLife:

A Call to Verse

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 23/01/2015 – 15:00

Calling all BirdLife poets! There is still time to enter 2014’s RSPB/Rialto Nature Poetry Competition. The deadline is GMT midnight on March 1: so you have six weeks to polish draft poems or versify anew.

Last year’s winner, Colin Hughes, drew his inspiration from watching Black Kites circling New Delhi, India: familiar sights across so many major cities in Asia and Africa.

Colin said that he stood at a window, ”watching several hundred of the city’s huge population of pariah kites gathering at sundown”, reflecting that it was a day in which ”the papers had reported that more than half the world’s population now lives in cities”. After Tokyo, with its staggering 38 million people, Delhi is the world’s second most densely populated metropolis and, with a forecast that 2050 will see two thirds of us living in cities, it seems highly likely that encounters with nature, the fuel of so much poetry, will be increasingly urban. Colin’s winning poem is reproduced in full below.

In 2013, locations and species that inspired poets to enter the competition ranged widely: from China to New Zealand, from Ireland to Peru; and from cats and rats to condors and eels, iguanas and juniper trees. All were grist to the mill of people’s verse, with many poets, as competition judge, Ruth Padel, reported, creating lines that were “breathtaking and beautiful but also painful because so many poems, underlined, rightly, what a precarious state nature is in”.

This year’s judge is the celebrated British poet, broadcaster and writer, Simon Armitage, author of more than twenty collections and co-editor, with Tim Dee, of the anthology, The Poetry of Birds. Simon’s own work draws deeply on nature and landscape; he has recently walked the Cornish coast, a follow up to his “troubadour trek” along the UK’s Pennine Way, paying his way by giving poetry readings en route. This journey was celebrated in his book, Walking Home.

Like Ruth (and 2012’s judge, Andrew Motion), Simon will, no doubt, have a great swathe of entries to consider this year, so please do join the fray! You might find your words being celebrated round the world, just like Colin’s poem.

Kites

Seems all the city’s sly guys pitched up at the park.
A couple of hundred pariahs, idly climbing spirals
Of dense dusk air, twisting their two-finger tails:
A devil crowd, loafing on thermals, presaging dark.
This is no free-flowing flock, no liquid shoal that wheels
As one in-unison wave: these are scavenger anti-souls
Forming vortices of slo-mo dervishes,
Each spiky silhouette in separate gyration.
Hell-born hoodlums, who thrive on all that perishes.
Some pack out the lifeless branches of a leafless grove:
They lift lapels to check the contents of their pockets,
Correcting brown-coat buttons with a flick of their beak-knives,
Or brush the Delhi dust from their death-black jackets;
Then one by one flap up to join the anarchist claque
That cracks the abnegate sky – that lumbering bomber stack
Of cut-outs, off on a night-raid, stark-hard flags unfurled.
They soar and scorn the din, pharp-parping to damnation,
The busy-ness below, the choke-locked inner ring,
The humans who learned today they’re more than half urban.
No: this couldn’t-care-less congregation would not lift a wing
If you told them tomorrow is doomsday, and they the last left alive.
Forewarned, they’d still flop off to run their lazy rackets,
Go poke through piles of plastic trash in derelict dives,
Then gather to shrug disdain at the end of the day, or world.

By Colin Hughes, 1st Prize winner, 2013

British poet Attila the Stockbroker, nazis, anti-nazis, and Donny Osmond


This music video is called Attila the Stockbroker-Live @ Folk Fusion Festival-Paradiso-Amsterdam-Acoustic Set -12.02.2013.

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

Anti-fascism, followed by canine passion at the Marquee

Tuesday 20th January 2015

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

AS I mentioned in my last piece, I shall be doing very few gigs in the first half of this year since I’m completing my autobiography. It’s to be published on September 8, the 35th anniversary of my first gig.

So, instead of contemporary tales from the road, some of my next few columns will contain a few excerpts from it — stories you literally couldn’t make up.

Here’s one.

I’d always enjoyed playing the Marquee Club in London, the history-sodden rock venue in Soho’s Wardour Street, sadly now closed.

I did a show with my good mate John Otway there in the early ’80s and remember a tension-filled and storming night in 1989 when I supported Sunderland’s legendary Angelic Upstarts.

This music video says about itself:

Angelic Upstarts – The Murder of Liddle Towers

Classic debut single from the Upstarts, championing the cause of the Birtley boxer who died after a night in a police cell.

The Attila the Stockbroker article continues:

The previous year they had been attacked by fascists at a punk festival at the Astoria in London and the gig closed down, with the fascists vowing that the Upstarts would never play London again.

Anti Fascist Action laid down the gauntlet at one of the capital’s most high-profile venues, the fascists didn’t show and the gig was fantastic and a truly memorable night.

But the next offer I got to play there would be rather a contrast!

A Monday in January 1991. Phone rings. Can’t remember the bloke’s name after all these years, but the conversation is still vivid.

“Is that Attila? Hi, I book shows for the Marquee. Donny Osmond is supposed to be playing here tomorrow night but he’s pulled out.

“We don’t want to shut the venue for the night and we’re looking for someone to do a set. Would you be interested? We’ll pay you and give you as much beer as you want and as big a guest list as you like.”

I burst out laughing. “Well, I think I know the first verse of Puppy Love. Sure, I’ll give it a go!”

The deal was simple. Everyone who had booked to see Donny got a refund and the chance to watch Attila the Stockbroker for free. I had one day to ring round as many people I knew as possible and tell them that I was Donny Osmond’s understudy at the Marquee the following night —and there was free beer for anyone who made it along.

Unfortunately, this was of course way before the advent of social media, so I couldn’t put an event page on Facebook. I certainly will if it ever happens again.

The gig was sold out. About a third of the audience decided to take up the Marquee’s offer, which meant that I was confronted with a fairly large number of very disappointed ladies in their mid-30s — it was 1991, remember — plus a smattering of male partners, several of whom came up and told me that they were very pleased at the prospect of spending an evening listening to Attila rather than Donny. About 20 Attila fans turned up and got the promised free beer.

I started my set but by the end of the first 15 minutes half the Donny fans had walked out.

But the rest of them really enjoyed it. I got an encore. Yes, you’ve guessed it. I’d worked out the chords to Puppy Love on the mandola and memorised most of the words.

The rest is history. Never-to-be-repeated history, mind, but history nevertheless.

This music video is called Donny Osmond – Puppy Love (on Top Of The Pops) 1972.

Poetry in a Dutch nature reserve


This 15 January 2015 video is about a four kilometer long footpath in nature reserve Wijnjeterper Schar in Friesland province in the Netherlands. Along the path are the texts of fifteen poems in the Dutch and Frisian languages.

British poetess Kate Tempest’s new book


This video from Britain says about itself:

20 May 2009

Kate Tempest formerly Excentral Tempest performs her poem Best intentions at the lizard lounge night, hosted by Scroobius Pip.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Poet of the struggle for the struggle

Friday 2nd January 2015

Solomon Hughes finds the poetry of Kate Tempest a revitalising antidote to the present political climate

If you got any book tokens for Christmas, can I suggest you spend £9.99 of them on Kate Tempest’s latest book of poetry Hold Your Own?

Tempest is better known as a performance poet, holding her own in the halls alongside the John Cooper Clarkes and Scroobius Pips of this world.

But Hold Your Own sees her stepping into the world of traditional “slim volume verse,” publishing a book of poems to be read as well as heard.

And she steps in with style, bringing the grit of performance poetry as well as working with the more formal world of written verse.

The book is based on the myth of Tiresias’s encounter with the gods told as if on the grimy streets of London. The tension between the down to earth and divine drives the poems.

The first poem tells Tiresias’s story — which is a typically barmy Greek myth about a boy who becomes a woman and then a man (thanks to some magic screwing snakes), in which he is asked by the Gods for his opinion on whether men or women enjoy sex more and gets made into a blind prophet for his honest answer.

It’s a 14-page narrative poem with crazy god-driven stuff happening among the “cigarettes and spit” of the contemporary back streets.

The contrast between the wasteground filled with shopping trolleys and used condoms and the miraculous transformation is dramatic and comic and moving. The parallel contrast between the demotic language and the formality of the poetry adds bite. Tempest’s rhymes are fluid, although very occasionally thud a bit hard for the page.

The rest of the poems use the Tiresias myth to riff on what it means to be a girl or a boy or a man or a woman, and to play with some prophecy.

They often mix gritty realism with passionate romanticism — love poems have furious arguments in them as well as fervent love and are the more moving for it. There is a constant battle between the human heart and the “hatred” and “boredom” of regular life.

All of the poems are about the struggles of real life and so in that sense political. But the last section — Blind Profit — is of particular interest to Morning Star readers. Tempest ends her book with a series of direct, political poems.

They include my favourite Progress, which is a great retelling of 300 years of human history, including the move from feudalism to capitalism, the existential crisis caused by the death of god and the prison of the “free market.” Only Tempest does it in sharp, economical, aphoristic couplets.

If you didn’t get a book token but do have some Christmas cash left over, then Tempest is also playing live in Britain through February.

Either in person or on the page, she shows she’s got sharp, important things to say and the poetic skills to say them.

Attila the Stockbroker on his poetry and music


This 27 October 2014 music video from England is called Attila the Stockbroker – Farageland. The song is about Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP party in Britain. The title is also a wordplay on, and the music is from, the song Garageland by punk rock band The Clash.

The lyrics of Farageland are here.

And this is a music video of Garageland by The Clash. Lyrics are here.

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

I’m not counting the years, just the beers

Thursday 18th December 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

WONDERFUL night at the iconic and atmospheric Borderline club in Soho last Wednesday, celebrating 20 years of my band Barnstormer.

I started off as a punk bass player in 1977 and always thought I’d be in a band. But the bands I was in kept splitting up — partly because rather than standing meekly at the back as bass players were supposed to do, I wanted to write songs and play lead lines on the bass.

Some people, especially fellow punk musicians, didn’t understand this.

So in 1980 I started getting up on stage on my own in the breaks between bands at gigs, shouting the lyrics I’d written for the bands I was in that had split up. Add a stage name inspired by being told “you’ve got the manners of Attila the Hun” during a predictably horrible 11-month temporary stint as a clerk in a stockbroker’s office — the last “proper” job I’ve ever had — and that’s how Attila the Stockbroker, performance poet, came into the world.

For 10 years or so I was happy going solo, but in the ’90s I had a dream of forming a band to combine punk with my own take on medieval music, in much the same way that the Pogues combined punk with Irish music. I found a very sound bunch of local musicians, The Fish Brothers, called as such because of their drinking habits, and my band Barnstormer was born.

To be honest, we didn’t actually start as Barnstormer. For our first two gigs, our debut being at the legendary old Jericho Tavern in Oxford in November 1994, we were called Flounder and our bass player was Captain Sensible, incidentally.

Now, for me, as a coastal dwelling sea angler “flounder” only means one thing — a rather tasty flatfish.

But it was soon pointed out to me that the word had a rather different interpretation, to be completely useless. Since our band were actually quite good, I christened them Barnstormer and so we have been ever since. That’s apart from our first tour of Germany, where we were called Die Erbrechenden Rotkehlchen, which translates as The Vomiting Robins. Yes, I know.

We’ve done over 500 gigs, mainly in Germany. I’ve been a poet over here and in other English speaking countries and a band over there. It’s worked out very well.

Bands get treated much better in mainland Europe, where there’s free food, unlimited beer and accommodation comes as a basic rule of thumb which, any aspirant musician will tell you, is definitely not the case in Britain.

Above all, we’ve stuck together, so thank you to Dan Woods (guitar) and McGhee (drums) and bassists “Baby” David Beaken, Jason Pegg and Tommy Muir for being lovely, creative and talented and, crucially, for being able to retain those abilities on stage after vast quantities of free German beer.

And so to our celebration at the Borderline. I roped in my old mate John Otway to recite his Xmas hit — yes, he’s in the process of having one as we speak, thanks to a dedicated fanbase and the wonders of the internet — and Thee Faction, TV Smith and Blyth Power contributed hugely to a wonderful evening.

Another 100 gigs or so this year. Not quite as many in 2015 as I take some time out to finish my autobiography, timed for my 35th anniversary as Attila.

Hoppy Christmas and a Beery New Year to you all, comrades!