Category Archives: Poetry

Extremely Safe Radical Preventions

Earlier this year Virtual Migrants were involved in a research project devised by the University of Manchester Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice and a series of interactive drama-based workshops led by Theatre in Prisons and Probation to faciliate conversations about radicalism.

The project was devised as ‘a collaboration between young people, school staff, interdisciplinary researchers, and creative artists, that focuses on developing an inclusive and open discussion about how schools approach extremism that speaks to, and is led by, young people’.

The government’s Prevent strategy has been accused of being more damaging than enabling; acting as a mechanism of exclusion that represses rather than encourages conversation. It was fascinating to hear the views and frustrations of teachers and pupils in dealing with Prevent and Safeguarding legislation highlighting even more the need to “talk about this”.

Here’s the poem that resulted from these conversations:

Extremely Safe Radical Preventions


Who are ya?
Who are ya?
Who are ya?

Who is behind the mask?
Behind the hood?
Behind the veil?
Continue reading

A Reminder for Our Liberal Selves

A Reminder for Our Liberal Selves:

Black people are systematically destroyed by the media and the marketers

as well as by police bullets.

Black voices are destroyed by well-meaning White voices

We do know… it’s Christmas
We know what time it is
We have known the time, calculated the time
lived in rhythm with the moon cycle and seasons for millennia

We are best placed to speak on “Black issues”
We are also well placed to speak on issues other than “Black issues”

For as we know
as we have been forced to learn,
forced to abandon our languages, adopt and adapt new ones:
the oppressed will always know more about their oppressor
than the oppressor can ever know about them.

So we do not let Black faces on stage fool us
into believing power structures have fundamentally changed

Black faces in the boardroom
Black faces in the White House
In ‘liberal’ newspapers
Fronting TV shows…
Black faces in uniform.

And if the White Supremacist structure of the White House
the boardroom, the entertainment industry, the news media,
remains intact
how far can Black Words within these platforms make a difference?

Can we use the master’s tools to knock down and build new houses?

Can Black words in well-meaning well-read media platforms

breathe

surrounded by ads for corporations that continue to profit from our deaths…?

bwm

‘Return’ – poem for the Ogoni 9 Living Memorial Journey to Nigeria

The 10th November marks 20 years since the execution of writer, poet and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders for their protests against Shell oil destroying their land.
To mark the occasion Platform have shipped the Battle Bus (the Living Memorial to the Ogoni 9 designed by Sokari Douglas Camp), over to Nigeria in an act of solidarity with the Ogoni people.

At present the bus is still impounded by Nigerian customs – the head of which was on the tribunal that decided the fate of the Ogoni 9 back in 1995. Keep in touch with updates and solidarity with the Ogoni who have threatened to mobilize and cripple the economy unless the bus is released via #bus4ogoni9 and #Freethebus hashtags.

This poem was commissioned by Platform and forms part of a leaflet designed by graphic artist Jon Daniel and also featuring artwork from Alfreedo Jaar.

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You can read a blog on the poem over on Platform’s website here.

Continent Chop Chop – Virtual Migrants tour

Virtual Migrants collective has been working hard on a touring poetical musical digital mash-up theatrical production that connects austerity, refugees and climate justice. We’ve been in rigorous rehearsals upping our performance game in song, poetry, story-telling and even a lil slice of grime. Guided by the calm soul energy wisdom of Amanda Huxtable the show is now ready for the road.

Blurb about the show and tour dates are below.

A performance project by the Virtual Migrants collective.

‘Spring in November’: Climate Change Kwansabas

After attending TippingPoints’ Weatherfronts conference in September several commissions were made available to write about the issues. Myself, Zena Edwards and Selina Nwulu applied to write a series of kwansaba poems developing on from conversations we began at the conference with Dorothea Smartt and other attendees.

I chose to focus my commissioned poem on several dates throughout the last month in which issues of race have raised the global temperature. The connected through-line of fire and heat a questioning of how we use, measure and connect to our climate.

Spring in November

5/11
Bonfire Night. A man hanged, drawn, quartrd.
Yet beyond council fences, flames flicker still.
This desire. This fire. Within. It burns.
Treason trumps torture. Famous anon. take streets
A million White masks. Black face unity.
Can we turn? Hunt out witches’ wisdom?
Seek council with shaman? Lest we forget

9/11
From Guy’s London torture Tower blood flows
Colours Israeli Red Sea, clots the Atlntic.
Nine eleven. Not Pnochet, not Opium wars,
Great War. Heroic death. Brave butchry. Sacred.
Pin Vctoria to chests and sing victory.
Are these Afghan poppies? Made in China?
Or is this drug a British export?

10/11
Black death spawns a White saviour virus
Locusts take air, buzz over brown mouths
A bread basket is branded basket case
Feed the world with helplss needy Africns
Do They know it’s thirty-four shoppng days
until Xmas? Give Us your fcking money
How much a pith helmet Space suit?

10/11
Flying above our planet you may pause
How fragile. Where are the borders? Walls?
Shudder. Someone has left the gas on.
Are those candles for the Ogoni nine?
An eternal smogged flame for Saro-Wiwa?
Bonfire fury night and day where maps
are drawn. Protest hung. And village quartrd.

19/11
Back to earth for student sun rise
Black history strides strong from October
This term, we face race, qstion ugenics
Reject their choice cuts, favour ital diets.
High pressure sweeps in from the south
to reduce recycle replant our server farms.
Cold front here to stay. Kettles boil.

25/11
Steam release across Ocean. Sgrgatd city burns.
Nothing to see here in post racial society.
Black Out this bleak Friday. Buy nothing
Mammon clutches mama’s throat. Hands up. Off.
Thick smoke revrses the choke hold. Cough.
Tears stream. Levees break. In these storms
a chance to remembr who we are.

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Friday Feelings – Leeds Book Launch + back cover blurb

Friday Feelings is a collection of poetic thought, wit, wisdom and anecdote that takes the reader on a journey from dusty Huddersfield day-dreams to the heat of the Indian monsoon. This is Harry Jivenmukta’s debut poetry collection on paper following a prolific writing history that includes three novels, innumerable short stories and poetry collections (see www.loosewords.org) as well as 67 workbooks for KS3 and KS4.

Harry’s words are presented here together with newly commissioned and specially-selected artworks from the artist Janet Devine. In her abstract explorations of form and nature Janet’s art provides a bold, colourful yet subtle compliment to Harry’s poetry, allowing the reader to draw further metaphors and meaning from the text.

Written throughout a year of attendance at the Write Stuff writing group, the poems offer us a glimpse into the many lives and seasons of Harry Jivenmukta. From cold imaginings of a Russian winter via Dostoyevsky’s scratchy pen, to remembrances of life under the Panjabi sun, to fantastical encounters in Baku, Dal Lake, Kashmir, Mumbai, Moscow…

Harry has travelled far and his perceptive vision reminds us not to take life too seriously, to find pleasure in the ordinary. In Harry’s world: missing the bus becomes an opportunity to catch the rainbow; the late arrival of the Write Stuff facilitator offers a chance for existential philosophy; a common weed is heralded above the pampered rose; a pile of vomit is “a work of art from the night before”. Continue reading

Friday Feelings – an incidental diary by Harry Jivenmukta

Friday Feelings by Harry Jivenmukta (featuring artwork by Janet Devine) is the very first individual collection of poetry to emerge from the Artists in Mind writing collective, The Write Stuff. Here’s the foreword I was asked to write for the book below.

FF book cover photo
Friday Feelings – Foreword

For two hours on occasional Fridays a group of people gather in a converted mill-building on the edge of Huddersfield town centre and create magic. The ritual begins with the setting out of tables in the centre of the room, chairs are assembled round the outside, the kettle is boiled, greetings are exchanged. As the last mug of steaming tea is delivered to the table, the sacred sacrament is passed around – crisp, white, blank sheets – take one, pass them along. Next, the magician’s wands: an assortment of biros – tools to connect thoughts direct from brain through body to fingers and out on to paper.

We create under the motto of AiM’s founder, John Holt: “Creativity is the immune system of the mind and the source of the mythic”. Continue reading