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
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
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
Posted in Poetical Political, Poetry
Tagged Friday Feelings, Harry Jivenmukta, Janet Devine, Love Arts Festival, Real Junk Food Project, Rommi Smith, Samuel Moore, the Baggage Handlers, Word Emporium, World Food Day
The TippingPoint Weatherfronts event posed certain questions:
What is the role of the writer in addressing climate change? What kind of story is climate change? And inspired more: Who gets to tell this story? Whose voices are negated? And how can we approach climate change from a climate justice and reparations angle?
From my latest Sable Litmag column:
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.
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
Earlier this month I was invited to take part in a panel discussion on Resonance FM with , Kevin Smith, , and on the subject of ‘Ending Fossil Fuel Sponsorhip of the Arts’.
The full broadcast below also features an alternative tour of London’s Tate galleries via guerilla audio guides from artists such as The Artist Taxi Driver, Ansuman Biswas, Isa Suarez. The panel discussion takes place in the last half hour beginning at 3 hrs 22:
For more on these oily issues check the work of Platform, Liberate Tate, End oil-sponsorship of the arts, BP or not BP.
Here’s a blogpost I wrote for Voices that Shake! (the youth arts & activism project I help to facilitate) following the latest 5-day intensive course we ran at the Stephen Lawrence Centre.
Once again I was shaken by the Shakers…
I feel very honoured to be one of the facilitators on this project as the generosity, trust, desire to learn, share, give and work together for change is genuine and inspiring from all.
This is now the 5th Shake! intensive I’ve been a part of and each time we refine the formula with the feedback received in a collaborative process with the participants.
This latest Shake! had some very welcome additions – especially the ‘Well-being workshop’. Mental health and artist/activist burnout has been a topic that has arisen naturally in discussion on previous Shake!s so incorporating a dedicated space and time for us all to skill-share our experiences and feedback coping strategies was very welcome and proved extremely useful. It was important to build up a sense of trust and create a safe space during the week for these reflections to come forth. This list can serve as a resource we can all reference, add to, and develop in the future.
There can be a lot of ego and foolishness in the arts world so it has been refreshing to work with such a giving team of artists/activists – it is a revitalising learning experience to be Continue reading
Much thanks to Sinclair from the prolific Poetical TV for the filming of this boiled down, re-processed version of my Tangled Roots memoir, Processed Sugar.
Props to Deanna & Dean and the Come Rhyme With Us fam for a most enjoyable, warm and flavoursome couple of gigs, and check the Poetical TV archive for lots more poetry food – including the force that is Rhythm of Men. Tasty.