Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sensation

You know those days when you get them 'mean reds?'* 
Well they come outta nowhere and if your not careful you end up listening to country music.


Thank god we have poetry eh? I don't know how the rest of the world gets along but without poetry I wouldn't.


Here's a bunch of things which have turned me around recently.


'Sensation' by Rimbaud  and Pawn Shop Blues by Lana Del Rey.. which is my current favourite song in the world.. it's one of those things that must have always existed waiting for its artist to find it.. and then there is a video about a secret bookstore in New York..which looks like heaven on earth to this man.


Big gratitude to each of these and to you for stopping by..
* 'No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?' - Holly Golightly


Sensation

On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,
Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:
In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet.
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head.

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
But endless love will mount in my soul;
And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
Through the countryside - as happy as if I were with a woman.

Arthur Rimbaud

Pawn Shop Blues - Lana Del Rey



A Secret Bookstore




Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Liu Xiaobo - Your Lifelong Prisoner




We would like to share with you a poem written by Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo to his wife Liu Xia. Xiaobo is not free to read this work for himself so it falls to the other poets of this world to be a voice for those who are silenced. I recorded this poem as I believe that while any writer is not free to write or be read no writer is free.

Xiaobo is currently in prison in China for 'inciting subversion of state power,' while Xia is under house arrest without charge. On 20 March 2012, the International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb) is organising the second annual Worldwide Reading for imprisoned Chinese writer and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. The goal of the worldwide reading is to share Liu Xiaobo’s works, and to remind the world that a humanist, a freedom fighter, an outstanding writer, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner is still in behind bars, and to protest against it. More info from EnglishPEN


Note - by writers I mean writers who are writing literature such as fiction, poetry and non-fiction which is not racist or does not promote hatred.


Kindest
John

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Shakespeare's Sonnets in Manchester Prison

I hope things are warming up for you as the light really returns now as we head up to the equinox in a week and a bit. I’ve been very busy engrossed in the most fabulous projects. First, being school’s poet for Poetry Next The Sea Festival, who I will also be reading for at their main festival in May. Then secondly I’ve just been running a week of sessions studying and performing Shakespeare’s sonnets with prisoners at HMP Manchester (Strangeways as it used to be called). We spent the week working with the Bard’s material, and it was both a glorious and at times very difficult experience, but I am happy to report we did it.

Imagine if you will someone who complained all week, ‘these poems have no bearing on reality,’ suddenly brought to life reading Sonnet 29; the poem inhabiting the man rather than the other way around, transforming him for a moment and quite visibly putting a spark in his soul. Or another prisoner who had never read a poem before encountering Sonnet 138, then spending the rest of the week immersed reading every poem he could get his hands on. I could tell you so many stories from the week, like the chap who turned ‘My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’ into a stunning patois rewrite about his girlfriend, but then this post would go on a very long time. I have had a few emails asking why and how this came about, my honest answer is that HMP Manchester wanted something daring, and that the best literature can stand up anywhere and transform lives. I also wanted to test Shakespeare and my own Full Blood and other work in a place where any bull would simply not survive being dishonest. Also something in me just wanted to see if I had the guts to pull off such an endeavour.



138
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.


All Best


John