Matter Poetry: On a Wing and a Prayer

Matter Poetry: On a Wing and a Prayer

Found object. Siena 1993. The text reads, “Andrea I love you always.” The thousand lire note at that time was worth about 50p. Italy converted to the Euro in 2002. I wondered about the story behind this. There are multiple possibilities. At the time I assumed it was written by a man or a woman to a women have since found out it’s primarily used as mans name meaning  “manly”, “masculine” and “brave” (from ancient Greek “andreios/ἀνδρεῖος.” The plot thickens. And since gender definitions and sexuality’s have become somewhat more complex. The gesture is timeless though. How to I love thee? How do I speak my truth? Do I cast my message to the winds of fortune? I hope it ended well.

Comment: I’m. Not. Even.Joking.

Comment: I’m. Not. Even.Joking.

So it’s back to the U.K. which is in my opinion becoming increasingly dystopic. As if the “Rule of six” wasn’t sinister sounding enough. I don’t sense much disquiet, but then I haven’t been scrolling. Maybe being away is giving me a different perspective but it all sounds very dark. What’s this I hear about a curfew?

As I prepare to return; I’ve been in Rome and Pineto on the Adriatic coast either side of a yoga retreat at the idyllic Casa Amrita. I can’t help thinking wa guarn? I mean it really- what is going on? Yesterday read in Brixton Buzz about panic buying of toilet roll due to the threat of another lockdown. Have we learnt nothing?

In a searing piece by John Crace in the Guardian he notes 47 regions are under strict lockdown measures at this time. 

Caught a pronouncement live from BJ mid retreat but didn’t wanna engage with that at the time. Looked like he had got a memo to drop the clown act. Heard him wrap the words humanity and spiritual around the threat of £10 000 fines and if necessary the army on the streets like wrapping a semi automatic in cotton wool. And we’re still cracking jokes about it? Like this:

My concern is this:  Whatever your stance on the virus we cannot let this situation act as a cover for a descent into a surveilled, militarised “new normal” with a government issuing draconian powers. I fear I speak too late. Above all we must not descent into fear. It feeds the darkness. Hold onto Love. 

The experience of the lockdowns and post lockdowns have given us the opportunity to come together in a new way, to build the foundations of a new world; in the recognition of the value of previously undervalued workers, a focus on health and wellbeing, on those we love, new skills, new habits, the extensive mutual aid. A reboot if you like or a refrag, I guess a reboot would be full system change. 

Im wondering what has been the reaction to this? What have Liberty had to say? What about trade unions? What about the Labour Party? What about communities? Really don’t wanna see a return to the lockdown semi Stasi attitudes and behaviour, rare but there nevertheless. 

I don’t know who said it, though it was repeated in Tahrir in the autumn of 2011, we either go backward or forward. We cannot stay here. Of course as “Nothing is constant except change.” So what will it be?

We are seeing how we will have to fight to see our way out of Covid to hold onto decent jobs, pay, dignity and justice. Nurses have been carved out of the public sector pay review. They have been on the streets.  While culture workers are taking on the might of the Southbank and the Tate. While culture workers are taking on the might of the Southbank and the Tate. Workers in out cultural institutions need our support. Art is essential. You can donate to the strike fund for the latter here.  Poetry on the Picket line are all over this check their Facebook page for updates

And the beloved poetry library on the Southbank has been put on ice! National Poetry Library SOS #NPLSOS

“We, the International Poetry Community, have grave concerns about the future of the UK’s National Poetry Library in the wake of Southbank Centre’s ruthless redundancy programme. The imminent job cuts and operational plans will ensure the library’s physical collection remains inaccessible to the public until at least April 2021. There will be no remote enquiry service. This will seriously undermine its essential operations along with its mission to collect all poetry published in the UK…”

Please circulate and sign this Poetry library petition

Diary: October 2020

Diary: October 2020

Thursday 1st October is National Poetry Day. The theme is vision. They’ll be a whole lot going on. Write, read or #ShareAPoem more info

Monday 5th October 7.30pm

Poets for the Planet meeting

Sunday 11th October 7.30pm

Joining Poetry from the Grassroots: Spoken Word for social Justice this month with with special guest Mr Gee, hosted by Mark “Mr T” Thompson and Steve Tasane

Comment: There’s no Pret on a dead planet

Comment: There’s no Pret on a dead planet

Seriously what is this obsession with getting people back to work in offices? I’m not knocking free public transport just the reason for introducing it. Clearly the workers have voted with their feet. Lit-er-al-ly. And who can blame them. My experience of commuting in London was pure hell. Especially the tube. No one wants to stand nose to armpit for 30-45 minutes everyday. The constant danger of being groped, the bad breath, the scrum to get on, the struggle to get off. 

And office culture – is that something to crave? I wouldn’t really know I worked in advice centres, which were offices of sorts but I hardly imagine large open plan offices as life enhancing. And poor Pret – oh please! Is that what London is really about. If, when, it’s ever in ruins will the archeologists of the day whoop with glee – I think I’ve found the remains of a Costa Coffee, of a Starbucks or a Pret a Manger? No, I don’t think so. 

One great thing about the lockdown was it gave us pause for thought. A kinda ccreboot or perhaps it was just a refrag. We focused on what really mattered; those you love, health and wellbeing, a responsibility for self and others, a growing respect for key workers. Not to mention a (somewhat enforced) reduction in the compensatory, ego boosting, often pointless and sometimes puerile consumerism that arguably feeds and conceals the neoliberal nightmare we’ve been living in now for some 40 years. 

Let’s have more of that say the Tories, and man are they panicking. They’re tried Eat to Help Out, (as a slogan that really sucks as a policy is questionable.) I’ve seen posters plugging the merits of office life, and now this. BUT why else the panic? Because they want us to be happy? Really? Oh and where is the money gonna come from for all these cups of coffee? And who is gonna pay the transport workers? Give them a pay cut! How about some redundancies! 

There’s a climate emergency and a) the government haven’t the time to debate The Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill immediately introduced by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas but they make time to discuss this piece of unnecessary social engineering and b) simultaneously introduce more carbon burning measures. People have to travel to the offices don’t they? 

The CEE Bill has been tabled for a second reading and a debate on the 12th March 2021. This is good though in my opinion no debate is needed. Let’s not forget how during lockdown we embraced the clean air, the silences, heard the birds sing again… THERES NO PRET ON A DEAD PLANET. Yeah that.

Writing prompt: Darth Vader bugs as big as puppies

Writing prompt: Darth Vader bugs as big as puppies

This is a great one to play with! Bounce off that image or the headline, or make “skitter off the sea bottom” your first line. If you like write from the point of view of an isopod, what a great word!

Set a timer for fifteen minutes and freewrite and see where it takes you. Once you have a draft, consider what you have just made. Is it for just for fun?  Or does it feel it desires development, does it welcome a form?

Rules of the freewrite: Just write, don’t think. Keep your hand moving, don’t stop or cross out, don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Don’t think, just write, follow the words just see what comes.

Massive ‘Darth Vader’ sea bug pulled from waters near Indonesia

“Buglike marine creatures that skitter across the sea bottom can grow to be as big as puppies, and a newly described species is one of the largest ever seen.

These crustaceans are known as isopods; the order Isopoda includes around 10,000 species that live in diverse habitats on land and in the ocean, and they can range in size from just a few millimeters to nearly 20 inches (500 mm) long. Of the ocean-dwelling isopods, the genus Bathynomus contains the biggest species; the newfound isopod, which turned up in the Indian Ocean in 2018, is among the largest of the Bathynomus species ever seen in the wild.

Named Bathynomus raksasa (“rakasa” is the Indonesian word for “giant”), the sizable sea bug measures about 13 inches (330 mm) in length, on average. It is the first new giant isopod species to be described in more than a decade, and is the first of these isopod behemoths to be found in waters near Indonesia, scientists reported in a new study.”


Anterior view of Bathynomus raksasa, a new species of giant isopod.
(Image: © SJADES 2018)

Comment: Disruption? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Comment: Disruption? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

As XR begin a new rebellion already I hear cries of let us just get on with it. If you feel XR are disruptive or even Covid has disrupted our lives, and sorry to lapse into cliche, you ain’t seen nothing yet! I don’t want be the harbinger of doom, gloom and disaster but we all really gotta get real. There’s gonna be no baking of banana bread to get us out of climate change gone unchecked. The disruption it can bring will make Covid disruption look like a walk in the park, which it kinda was for a lot of us, except of course the bereaved, the essential workers and many, so many in the global south. 

Recently I’ve been wondering what the wild temperature swings could be doing to crops. Like one day it’s 35 degrees next day it’s 19. Not too mention our bodies. This article, Cereal yields set to hit 30-year low as weather takes toll explores the effect of the extreme weather variations across the year and the results. Think a few days of supermarket stockpiling at the beginning of lockdown was bad? What if there’s nothing to fill the empty shelves? 

There is a solution and it’s simple. #ActNow. This is an emergency! 

The effects of the climate emergency are being felt right now all over the world. The last ice sheet in Canada was lost a few weeks ago. California is on fire, floods in India are of an unprecedented size. In the Amazon, the lungs of the world, more and more land is being lost to loggers every day. I won’t be surprised if the plagues of locusts swarming over at least three countries in East Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia) is done to the mad global weather. And in the midst of a pandemic do you think war has stopped? Look at Palestine. Look at Yemen.

Man it almost feels biblical. What makes the end of days a new beginning? Us! Just us! Justice. Social justice, equality, dignity, empathy, peace and a just transition to a low carbon, fossil fuel free world. We are the 99.99%. Mother Earth is screaming for help. Or we can just take the attitude fuck it all, our children are the last generation, so what! Or we can act.

Some days I wonder if we deserve this planet, y’know that scene in the Matrix I when Smith is torturing Morpheus??? We have a choice. It’s as simple as that. We are all Neo. I know deep down everyone feels love in their heart, everyone loves someone, love is what we need now. And love is an action. Love is an action. Love is an action. Love is the way #ActNow #Unity #DemandAJustTransition

Diary: September 2020

Diary: September 2020

Dates for the diary 

I was hoping August would be down time, but in a world where everything was on pause, in a funny kind of way though we were stopped it felt nothing stopped. I was plotting to escape next week to a wonderful retreat in the mountains in Andalucia, but the tutor got sick. So that was that. Perhaps for the best as am still experiencing significant fatigue and a bucket full of self doubt.

Stop press: Am off to Italy! It’s all been last min but going to a yoga retreat at Casa Stop press: Am off to Italy! It’s all been last min but going to a yoga retreat at Casa Amrita in Abruzzo. It looks amazing. 

September greets us with an XR rebellion in London, Cardiff and Manchester. All month long. Central to this is a call to Parliament to back the The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill), with actions in  Parliament Square  1st September 12.00pm – 5th September 5.00pm. For a list of all events see 

Sunday 6th September 4.00 – 5.30pm 

Live from the Butchery presents Sophie Herxheimer, Rishi Dastidar with Kevin Reid

Tis is a pay what you can event with live poetry.  Here’s the link: Join Zoom Meeting

14 – 21 September 2020

The 2020 Tell It Slant Poetry FestivalA new one on me but again with “slant” in the title gotta be worth check out. 

Hosted by The Emily Dickinson Museum  The schedule is out now and includes headliners Ada Limón, Jericho Brown, Kimaya Diggs, Franny Choi, Shayla Lawson, and as is tradition, the Emily Dickinson Marathon! 

Space is limited, so make sure to sign up for individual programs in advance:

#amwriting mostly about wellbeing 

#amreading The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century Edited by Rishi Dastidar on sale at the mo for £9.99!/The-Craft-A-Guide-to-Making-Poetry-Happen-in-the-21st-Century-Edited-by-Rishi-Dastidar/p/154027137/category=8486213

The struggle continues: Report from Reel News on NHS action on public sector pay

The struggle continues: Report from Reel News on NHS action on public sector pay

The pandemic has thrown a light on inequality in the U.K. and worldwide. In the U.K. the government seem determined to entrench rather than ameliorate inequality with breathtakingly callous actions regarding the NHS. Not content to reinstate parking charges for hospital staff they have carved them out of a public sector pay rise see this report from Reel News

“Anger over NHS workers being left out of a public sector pay rise is spreading throughothe country. The Brighton demo seen here was one of forty demonstrations all over the UK, the biggest one being in London (photos at end of video).

This campaign is completely rank and file and nurses led, but huge respect to GMB Southern Region for supporting the call for a 15% pay rise and a ballots across all unions for strike action. As they say in the video: if your union is not preparing to ballot you, contact them en masse to demand that they do.

The next actions are on Wednesday August 26, a day for nationwide workplace rallies at NHS hospitals and community services. Keep up to date with the campaign using the links at the end of the video.” See

Poems by others: Jericho Brown

Poems by others: Jericho Brown

The US poet Jericho Brown reads two his powerful Pulitzer Prize Winning Poems here

“Beauty abounds in Jericho Brown’s Pulitzer Prize winning collection, despite the evil that pollutes the everyday. The Tradition questions why and how we’ve become “accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. From mass shootings to rape to the murder of unarmed people by police, Brown interrupts complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither—or survive. In the urgency born of real danger, Brown’s work is at its most innovative. His invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is an all-out exhibition of formal skill, and his lyrics move through elegy and memory with a breathless cadence. Jericho Brown is a poet of eros: here he wields this power as never before, touching the very heart of our cultural crisis.”