Monday, 4 July 2011

Picketlines, protests and poetryzines

Last week 700,000 members of various Unions, including ATL, UCU, NUT and PCS, went on strike to defend their pensions. Rallies took place all over the country and I was very privileged and honoured to be asked to perform at the York Rally in Parliament Square to support the strikes.  These are genuinely historic moments, I don’t mean historic in the sense Columbus landing on what became known as America or Dickens writing Great Expectations but these events are catalysts and we should not underestimate the unity that comes from images of rallies in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, London etc all happening simultaneously.  I’m very proud of my hometown, and would rather stand on picketlines in York than go to a big rally in a bigger city because it’s my town and my home and my neighbours.
So I performed 2 poems, and I suppose I cheated a bit because neither were particularly original.  However I’ve performed my other political poems before at rallies, and these seemed very relevant.  I’ve been sadly too busy to write something really new, but hopefully this week or next, at least before my Edinburgh Adventure.

I performed The Picketline Song by Evan Greer as a poem, changing the words from empathises on the character in the song’s mother to just simple unity of “we all”.  I think it works in the context, it turns it into being about Us rather than Me.  The song can be found here and is incredibly inspirational, and one of the very few songs I can actually play on guitar.
The second poem I first heard via Al Baker & The Dole Queue.  Go Call FEMA (again by Evan Greer is about community and unity and rejecting the government bureaucracy that doesn’t actually help real people.  Al changed it to be more ‘British’ with references to Blair, the TUC and Cameron.  In the spirit of folk music, adapting, handing down, keeping the traditional afloat, I made it more relevant to the current struggle, renaming it ‘Can’t Draw EMA’.

(Video can be found HERE:
Speaking of Al Baker, he’s headlining a gig I’m putting on at Stereo, York.  I haven’t put a gig on for a good while now, so hoping this one goes down without any hitches.  There’s poetry, live music and comedy from mates in Can’t Sing, Can’t Dance, Don’t Care.  It’s FREE ENTRY, kicks of 7.30 and proves to be an ace night, promise.  Here’s the Facebook Event:!/event.php?eid=213054468714727
It’s also the launch of #2 of SNAPPING TURTLE PRESS me and my girlfriend Lizzie Alderdice’s poetryzine, with the theme of urban cities.  We had a look through submissions yesterday and very excited for the next issue and where this project is going.
So, to summarise:
Keep fighting
Come to the gig 13th July 2011, Stereo, York, 7.30, free entry
Click the link here:!/pages/Snapping-Turtle-Press-Poetryzine/215596188477512 find more info about Snapping Turtle Press poetryzine

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