Sunday, 28 February 2010

YouTube - Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru: Darlleniad Barddoniaeth Patrick Jones Poetry Reading


DRUM ( at Handsworth) - Peter Gruffydd



I beat the knuckled skin
so they prance, trip, sway
round the musty room.
My eyes follow the easy
runs of two negro children,
take time from their feet.

Asian kids glide, balance
on bellies, boys hunch
shoulders, pull themselves
along while a lone white
child pecks the air, lurches,
head leading then halts
to stare, mad with drumming.

His eyes say, Too fast; I stop.
Our story comes to circle us,
their eyes draw words, drink
pictures, still drum echoing.
From violated streets they teach
my tonque to allow the flow,
share the shivering drum.




ALSO FROM
Poetry Wales,Volume 26,No 4

Friday, 26 February 2010

HEAVY METAL - Geoff Veasey ( for Bruce Dickinson)



Here they come,
The Budgerigars of Death;
The Green Rabbits from Hell,
Riding the Devil's Stallion
(Which has just overtaken
An "M"-Reg. Reliant Kitten
Outside Shrewsbury.)
Stand aside for Lucifer's bearded Goblons,
In designer Originals;
Satan's pot-bellied slaves,
Leather lizards from Chippenham.
Beelzebub's Hamsters of Oblivion
On a Yamaha 500.
Led by the Grand Vizier of Evil,
Into Megadeth and Slayer,
Tatooing " Born to Die "
In felt -tip marker, on his knuckles.
Into Helloween and Annihilator,
And a daytime job at the Exhaust Centre.
Ripping out inner Tubes
As if they were Sharon Tate's intestines.
Apollons envoys, high on Gateway dumpies.
They're gonna kick as in Barmouth,
Gonna tear down Aberavon,
Riding chronium serpents,
With ten installments left to pay.
Belial's Boys;
Soldiers of the Seven Serpents
( Not eay to say when you wear dentures
after a serious ruck with your own
handlebars near the A5 interchange).
They're gonna mess up Corwen,
Gonna play Deadbeast and Greyhound
Records in the Jukie in that cafe
Near Llangollen, just to terrify the
Cliff Richard fans.
Worshippping Bauxite Angels
Playing Bantamweight chords
In Groups fronted by sad old men
In Spandex pants,
Nore derivative of Pavarotti
Than Delta Blues.
About as macho as a washing machine.
Unable to lyricise over anything
More creative than Gothic Boyhood imagery
Or 8,000 different, pathetic ways
To humiliate a woman.



FROM
Poetry Wales Volume 26, No 4

Sunday, 21 February 2010

IDRIS DAVIES( 6/1/05 -6/4/53) - Poet of the People


A poet I've admired for a while is Idris Davies. He started of writing in Welsh, but later began to write exclusively in the English language in order to reach the masses. Never particularly trendy or fashionable, he had a rather simple style, but as good as any protest singer writing today. I reckon the forbears of his poems were old street ballads and work songs.
Idris Davies was born in Rhymney in the Welsh Valleys, he left school at fourteen and went down the pit , following his fathers footsteps, in the mines he mixed with people who were the most militant and cultivated in the world. After attending lectures on Marxism at his local National Miners Institute and having become inspired by words , he decided to train to become a teacher, after qualification he took up teaching posts in London during the second world war, and after this returned to teach in Wales in the Rhymney Valley.
He dedicated himself to expressing his love of the people and to me was the only poet to cover significant events of the early 20th Century in the South Wales Valleys and the South Wales coalfield.
I regard him as an archetypal poet of the people, a man who happened to have the faculty of dreaming sensibly. He became an enthusiast of culture and was particularly inspired by the works of Shelley, but his chief inspiration were his people, unemployed Welsh miners reduced to begging in indifferent London streets.
His masterpiece was called " The Angry Summer ", a poem in fifty short sections about the general srike of 1926. His verses though simple become slices of reportage from the frontline.


It is a shame some of his shorter poems have been taken out of this context. Some critics saw him as a naive, simple minded, local propogandist poet. This does him a great disservice, he must not be forgotten, he must be celebrated, as he himself celebrated the grandeur and despair of working class resistance to capitalism in Britain between the wars.
He wrote about treachery, he presented pictures of harsh realities, expressing himself with colloquial instructios, he spoke of " the bread of life," "lifes long squalor " " words of your anger and your love and your pride." I see him as a precursor to many a modern folk troubadour. He had passion, he cared, a diary entry of his reads -
" I am a socialist. That is why I want as much beauty as possible in our everyday lives, and so I am an enemy of pseudo-poetry and pseudo-art of all kinds. Too many poets of the left are badly in need of instructions as to the difference between poetry and propoganda... These people should read William Blake on Imagination until they show signs of understanding him. Then the air will be clear again, and the land be, if not full of, fit for song?"
His revolt came out of direct experience, out of deep love for his people, yes he didn't do to many fancy verses, but he wrote to connect. He also had humour , he also had candour.
He has since achieved some sort of popularity amongst millions in the wider world, thanks to Peter Seegers setting of Gwalia Desrta XV ( The Bells Of Rhymney ) which became a massive hit for "the Byrds" and has subsequently been covered by many others including "Robin Hitchcock" and " Bob Dylan".
He is a continuing inspiration to forward thinking socially engaged poets, promoting their own views like Idris Davies, with populist devices.
Idris Davies died from abdominal cancer in 1953 aged only 48, a red poet, a proletarian poet. If he was alive today I feel he would most definitely not be voting for the bloody Conservative Party.
The following are a small selection of his better known verses.

GWALIA DESERTA VIII
Do you remember 1926?

Do you remember 1926? That summer of soups and speeches,
The sunlight on the tidle wheels and the deserted crossings,
And the laughter and the cursing in the moonlight streets?
Do you remember 1926? The slogans and the penny concerts,
The jazz-bands and the moorland picnics,
And the slanderous tonques of famous cities?
Do you remember 1926? The great dream and the swift disaster,
The fanatic and the traitor, and more than all,
The bravery of the simple, faithful folk?
"Ay, ay, we remember 1926," said Dai and Shinkin,
As they stood on the kerb in Charing Cross Road,
"And we shall remember 1926 until our blood is dry."


Mrs Evans fach, you want butter again

Mrs.Evans fach, you want butter again.
How will you pay for it now, little woman
With your husband out on strike, and full
Of the fiery language? Ay, I know him,
His head is full of fire and brimstone
And a lot of palaver about communism,
And me, little Dan the Grocer
Depending so much on private enterprise.

What, depending on the miners and their
Money too? O yes, in a way, Mrs. Evans,
Come tomorrow, little woman, and I'll tell you then
What I have decided overnight.
Go home now and tell that rash red husband of yours
That your grocer cannot afford to go on strike
Or what would happen to the butter from Carmarthen?
Good day for now, Mrs.Evans fach.

MORNING COMES AGAIN

Morning comes again to wake the valleys
And hooters shriek and waggons move again,
And on the hills the heavy clouds hang low,
And warm unwilling thighs cral slowly
Out of half a million ruffled beds.
Mrs Jones' little shop will soon be open
To catch the kiddies on the way to school,
And the cemetery gates will chuckle to the cemetery-keeper,
And the Labour Exchange will meet the servant witha frown.

Morning comes again, the inevitable morning
Full of the threadbare jokes, the convenional crimes,
Morning comes again, a grey-eyed enemy of glamour,
With the sparrows twittering and gossips full of malice,
With the colourless backyards and the morning papers,
The unemployed scratching for coal on the tips,
The fat little grocer and his praise for Mr Chamberlain,
The vicar and his sharp short cough for Bernard Shaw,
And the coliery-manager's wife behind her pet geranium
Snubbing the whole damn lot!

HIGH SUMMER ON THE MOUNTAINS

High summer on the mountains
And on the clover leas,
And on the local sidings,
And on the rhubarb leaves.

Brass bands in all the valleys
Blaring defiant tunes,
Crowds, acclaiming carnival,
Prize pigs and wooden spoons.

Dust on shabby hedgerows
Behind the colliery wall,
Dust on rail and girder
And tram and prop and all.

High summer on the slag heaps
And on polluted steams,
And old men in the morning
Telling the town their dreams

CONSIDER FAMOUS MEN, Dai bach
Consider famous men, Dai bach, consider famous men,
All their slogans, all their deeds,
And folow the funerals to the grave.
Cosider the charlatans, the shepherds of the sheep!
Consider the grease upon the tonque, the hunger of the purse!
Consider the fury of the easy words,
The vulgarity behind the brass,
The dirty hands thstshook the air, that stained the sky!
Yet some there were who lived for you,
Who lay to die remembering you.

Mabon was your champion once upon a time
And his portrait's on the milk-jug yet.
The world has bred no champions for a long time now,
Except the boxing, tennis, golf, and Fascist kind,
And the kind that democracy breeds and feeds for Harringay,
And perhaps the world has grown too bitter or to wise
To breed a prophet or a poet ever again.


from GWALIA DESERTA VII

There are countless tons of rock above his head,
And gases wait in secret corners for a spark;
And his lamp shows dimly in the dust.
His leather belt is warm and moist with sweat,
And he crouches against the hanging coal,
And the pick swings to and fro,
And many beads of salty sweat play about his lips
And trickle down the blackened skin
To the hairy tangle on the chest.
The rats squeak and scamper among the unused props,
And the fungus waxes strong.

And Dai pauses and wipes his sticky brow,
And suddenly wonders if his baby
Shall grow up to crawl in the local Hell,
And if tomorrow's ticket will buy enough food for six days,
And for the Sabbath created for pulpits and bowler hats,
When the under-manager cleans a dirty tongue
And walks with the curate's maiden aunt to church...
Again the pick resumes the swing of toil,
And Dai forgets the world where merchants walk in morning streets
And where the great sun smiles on pithead and pub and church-steeple.

CAPEL CALVIN

There's holy holy people
They are in capel bach-
They don't like surpliced choirs
They don't like Sospan Fach,

They don't like Sunday concerts
Or women playing ball
They don't like William Parry much
Or Shakespeare at all.

They don't like beer or bishops,
Or pictures without texts,
They fon't like any other
Of the nonconformist sects.

And when they goto Heaven,
They won't like that too well,
For the music will be sweeter
Than the music played in Hell.

GWALIA DESERTA XV

O what can you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Is there hope for the future?
Cry the brown bells of Merthyr.

Who made the mineowner?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.

And who robbed the miner?
Cry the grim bells of Blaina.

They will plunder will-nilly,
Say the bells of Carphilly.

They have fangs, they have teeth
Shout the loud bells of Neath.

To the south, things are sullen,
Say the pink bells of Brecon.

Even God is uneasy,
Say the moist bells of Swansea.

Put the vandals in court
Cry the bells of Newport.

All would be well if-if-if-
Say the green bells of Cardiff.

Why so worried, sisters, why
Sing the silver bells of Wye.


FURTHER READING

The cost of strangeness/ essays on the English Poets of Wales
- Anthony Conran, GOMER 1982

Idris Davies - Collected Poems GOMER PRESS 1972

GWALIA DESERTA (1938)

"O What can you give me?"- Nigel Jenkins on Idris Davies/ Poetry Wales volume 40 number 4

The Dragon has two tongues - Glyn Jones LONDON 1968

Sunday, 14 February 2010

CUT UPs


The hope of spring,
don't run past
its perplexities
drift towards its absorbed reflections,
lift up our hands
we still have time,
some have departed
some have just arrived,
cupid's funny looking glance
it's sowing done
for another year,
all these years,
I have wondered
I have whispered back
i'm waiting now
for someone to knock back,
I had a dream last night
I was not afraid
it is time now to sing.
contemplation like a door
that never slams shut.

The Moon reflects


THE MOON IS BLACK
THE ALPHABET OF THE TREES
SCATTERS SO MANY LEAVES.
OUR LANGUAGE
WHISPERS
FURTIVE SECRETS
AS FREAKS GO BAREFOOT,
MUSIC FLOWS LIKE WATER.
INBETWEEN SHADOW AND LIGHT,
BOOKS ARE READ FOR THERAPY
IT IS NOW MID FEBRUARY,
FIERCE WINTER
ALMOST GONE.
MEMORIES OF BAYING SECRETS,
LOVE CriEs,
it Is Coming back
UpoN ThE CrIMsON TiDE,
wherupon
the wind
blows
through our eyes,
as we flutter
and shutter.
We believe in no masters,
we believe in wildness,
are heads covered in thoughts.
Then the wind blows again,
and takes us back to where we'd begun,
from outside , we look in
our shadows fall.
As the river breathes
this is the politic of freefall,
magic is undiminished,
we don't sit alone.
Gradually what we abandon,
comes together in fevered imagination,
at some point of departure
a vanishing point.
And once where there was icy silence
echoes return, bathed in laughter.
Questions and answers
towards the end of day.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Gil Scott- Heron - Ladies and Gentlemen the Godfather of Rap is Back!



Gil Scott-Heron is back, next week sees the release of his long awaited new album,
" I'm new here " on independent label XL recordings. Already being cited as a possible contender for record of the year, on all accounts it's going to be a blinder. His first record for thirteen years, I feel it will have been worth the wait.
This legendary poet and political activist had been charting the injustices and cruelty of American society for years, raging against its apparent hypocricy, the irony being, it was this very same system that turned on him, culminating in jail sentences and stretches due to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, found with too much gear in his pockets, labelled and spat out. Sure he had problems, but when this man needed help, what did they do? They locked him up, that was really going to cure him, no I don't think so, just another sad reflection of a cold stinkin' rotten system.
Anyway in my opinion a brave, charismatic figure, he was seen as a precursor to many of hip hop and rap. The Godfather.
I was lucky to be able to see him perform on a number of occassions in the late nineteen eighties, once at Glastonbury, can't remember the correct year, perhaps someone could remind me, and 3 times more in London at C.N.D and anti apartheid rallies one I think in Hyde Park? My memory has got pretty obliterated over the years.
He never stood on fences, his language and honesty apparent to all who witnessed him. Apparently the era I saw him perform, his talent was on the wain, but I did not notice, I did not care, all I remember was a powerful, incendiary, sweet , soulful, smoky voice , gently rallying us against the cruelty of the world. He became a bit of a hero to me, so it was sad not to have him around for a while, but the thing is, for some of us he never did go away. His songs of freedom lifting us through our sombre histories, stirring and always inspiring.His sad songs and his melancohly somehow reaching and getting through.
Well lets hope this time around he finally confronts some of his demons, and gets the success he really deserves as a truly original lyrical genius. In the meantime I thought I'd quickly post some of my favourite verses by this mercurial figure. Let his gritty words of truth sing out. Peace brothers and sisters our time is now

PAINT IT BLACK

Picture a man of nearly thirty
who seems twice as old with clothes torn and
dirty.
Give him a job shining shoes
or cleaning out toilets with bus station crews.
Give him six children with nothing to eat.
Expose them to life on a ghetto sreet.
Tie an old rag around his wifes's head and
have her pregnant and lying in bed.
Stuff them all in a Harlem House.
Then tell them how bad things are down South.

SPEED KILLS

Speed on by. Don't seem to have the time.
What about this life, what about this life
Can I call mine?
Issues in the paper, But somehow i'm not concerned.
Seems I've been this way before, but I never learn.
Children slowly turn.

Time sped gone. We didn't see it go.
Now what do we have, now what do we have
That we can show?
Friends you swore you'd never lose melted from your style
Down the tunnels of your youth and now you never smile.
Children learn to smile.


SPIRITS

The world spins around us
we search for a balance
The secrets lie in darkness and light
Our lives are like treasures
Unveiled as perfection
A gift to us from spirits on high
Equator. Divider. Equate us. Combine us.
To seek the answers beyond our sight...

I THINK I'LL CALL IT MORNING

I'm gonna take myself a piece of sunshine
and paint it all over my sky.
Be no rain. Be no rain.
I'm gonna take the song from every bird
and make them sing it just for me.
Be no rain.
And I think I'll call it morning from now on.
Why should I survive on sadness
convince myself I've gotta be alone?
Why should I subscribe to this world's
madness
Knowing that I've got to live on?

I think I'll call it morning from now on.
I'm gonna take myself a piece of sunshine
and paint it all over my sky.
Be no rain. Be no rain.
I'm gonna take the song from every bird
and make them sing it just for me.
Why should I hang my head?
Why should I let tears fall from my eyes
when I've seen everything there is to see
and I know that there ain't no sense in crying!
I know that there ain't no sense in crying!
I think I'll call it morning from now on.

BEGINNINGS ( The First Minute of a New Day )

We're sliding through completly new
beginnings.
Ww're searching out our every doubt
and winning.
We want to be free
and yet we have no idea
why we are struggling here
faced with our every fear
just to survive.

We've heard the sound and come around
to listening.
We've touched the vibes time after time
insisting that we know what life means;
still we can't break away
from dues we've got to pay
we hope will somehow say
that we're alive

BILLY GREEN IS DEAD

"The economy's in an uproar,
the whole damn country's in the red,
taxi fares is goin' up... What?
You say Billy Green is dead?"
"The government can't decide on busin'
Or at least that's what they said.
Yeah, I heard when you tol' me,
You said Billy Green is dead."
"But let me tell you 'bout these hotpants
that this big-legged sista wore
when I partied with the frat boys.
You say Billy took an overdose?"
"Well now, junkies will be junkies,
But did you see Gunsmoke las' night?
Man they had themselves a shootout
an' folks wuz dyin' left and right!
At the end when Matt was cornered
I had damn near give up hope...
Why did you keep on interruptin' me?
You say my son is takin' dope?
Call a lawyer! Call a doctor!
What you mean I shouldn't scream?
My only son is on narcotics,
should I stand here like I'm pleased?"
Is that familiar anybody?
Check out what's inside your head,
because it never seems to matter
when it's Billy Green who's dead.

WHEN YOUR GIRLFRIEND HAS A BETTER FRIEND

Let me give you something straight up my friend
Your whole life can turn super funky
And put a too large foot in your rear end
if you're digging a dame who's a junky.

I'm sure I don't need to take you back down the road
And retell all the details about smack
But I believe me it's still out there breaking the codes
And its ten times worse than cheeba or crack.

And "Fuck! How in the world did we come to be friendly?"
And all them other bullshit cliches
And you don't know what you'da done if you'da been me
Just be glad that there wasn't no fuckin way.

Okay then, just for a minute let's both speculate
And since you would be me, I would be you
So now as you (I) can get puffed up and be fuckin great
About what I (meaning you) should or shouldn't do.

I can hear it all nw knowing just what you'd say
About not hangin' out in the streets
And immediately we know there aint no f'n way
'Cause if it wasm.t no hangin' out it wasn't me.
This is gonna sound weak and it ain't no excuse
But it's been years since I'd been around scag
And acting sel-righteous is the quickest way to lose
And to tell you the truth it's a drag

Remembering the shivers and quivers and shakes
Starts to bring the butterflies back to your gut
But junkies don't care what you think are mistakes
She says "Are you givin' up the money or what?"

You can climb in the pulpit for a sermon or two
Keep your money and watch while she packs
But you know more than precisely what she's gonna do
Go for twenty somewhere lying on her back

Or end up in an alley trying to turn a quick trick
Pushers don't care how the money is made
And when the addict starts getting uptight for a fix
They say "Fuck gonorrhea and fuck A.I.D.S!"

In theend it ain't theories or jive-ass philosophy
Or what the papers or politicians think
And nobody needs no more heroin (metadone) sociology
While the speaker pours himself another drink.

So you're right. Congratulations on what was weak about me
I admit I lok like somebody's flunky
But right ain't always the best thing to be
When the girl that you love is a junky.

THE WORLD

The world!
Planet Earth; third from the Sun of a gun, 360 degrees.
And as the new worlds emerge
stay alert. Stay aware.
Watch the Eagle! Watch the Bear!
Earthquaking, foundation shaking,
bias breaking, new day making change.
Accumulating, liberating, educating, stimulating change!
Tomorrow was born yesterday.
From insde the rib or people cage
the era of our firdt blood stage was blotted or erased
or TV screened r defaced.
Remember there's a revolution going in in the world.
One blood of the early morning
revolves to the one idea of our tomorrow.
Homeboy, hold on!
Now more than ever all the family must come together.
Ideas of freedom and harmony, great civilizations
yesterday brought today will bring tomorrow.
We must be about
earthquaking, liberating, investigating
and new day making change in
thw world.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Rachel Carson - The Sea around us




FOR the sea as a whole,the alternation of day and night, the passage of the seasons, the procession of the years, are lost in its vastness, obliterated in its own changeless eternity. But the surface waters are different. The face of the sea is always changing. Crossed by colors, lights, and moving shadows, sparkling in the sun, mysterious in the twilight, its aspects and its moods vary hour by hour. The surface waters move with the tides, stir to the breath of winds, and rise and fall to the endless, hurrying forms of the waves. Most of all, they change with the advance of the seasons. Spring moves overthe temperate lands of our Northern Hemisphere in a tide of new life, of pushing green shoots and unfolding buds, all its mysteries and meanings symbolised in the northward migration of the birds, the awakening of sluggish amphibian life as the chorus of frogs rises again from the wetlands, the different sound of the wind which stirs the young leaves where a month ago it rattled the bare branches. These things we associate with the land, and it is easy to suppose that at sea there could be no such feeling of advancing spring. But the signs are there, and seen with understanding eye, they bring the same magical sense of awakening.

RACHEL CARSON , 1907 - 1964

She read biology at Pennsylvania College for Women and carried out graduate work at The John Hopkins University . She then taught at the University of Maryland and at John Hopkins. She was a marine biologist and subsequent editor-in-chief of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and a pioneer of the conservation movement in the 1960s. She wrote the classic template for the ecologival movement with " The Silent Spring "