Thursday, 5 July 2012
Thursday, 15 March 2012
'rusticated' by Cambridge University Court for 2 1/2 years for disrupting a talk by David Willetts. He read a poem aloud with many other protestors.
You have violated freedom of speech in this university
out of turn.
You should have been listening.
possibly asked some questions
(but not too many).
What you have to understand is
that we could have destroyed him
with our well-thought-out questions.
We could have forced a u-turn
of government policy
with our pre-planned questions
we could have shaken Whitehall
with our stinging questions
echoing down the corridors of power!
But you just had to go and ruin it
with your ‘speech’
that wasn’t even a ‘speech’
just some kind of
spoken out of turn.
Speaking out of line
will not be tolerated.
That’s not how we do things here!
Holding freedom of speech
close to our hearts.
It’s almost as though you have some kind of vendetta
against our thoroughly-considered questions.
Almost as though you think
they wouldn’t have been enough
that we couldn’t force a u-turn
by putting up our hands
and waiting to be called on.
that we all might have gone home afterwards
and left it at that.
Have we taught you nothing at all?
We hope you take the next two and half years
to think carefully about what you’ve done.
We expect you to take into account
our thoughts on your
and how it violated freedom of speech
and ruined it
for everyone sitting quietly.
in the future
you will raise your hand and
wait to be called on
like the rest of us.
Read more about this:
Cambridge Defend Education
How to support this student:
If you are a Cambridge student, you can sign this petition.
If you are in Cambridge you can go to this protest.
If you are anyone else, you can sign this petition.
Thursday, 22 December 2011
the map is not the territory -
what can't be known must be felt,
must be lived in vivid shades.
but what of this darkness?
it must be faced blind and
raw as a red baby, it must
be touched by skinned hands
and mortal years.
do all of us go by the same road?
for all our armour, do we sleep
with equal innocence, and fight
for our small corners
with the same animal surety?
pain travels under so many names:
a universal unknowable - it
cannot be borne, cannot be
translated, carried each to each,
across all those human borders.
I don’t want your
blood on my hands
I don't sleep for fear
I will wake too soon
I shall fight a war for independence &
my weapons shall be words
Cards down. Lights out.
On the coldest night of my life
we woke up to find
England, dressed in white
In times to come we will laugh about all this.
No defeat is so final that we cannot rebuild.
You said you feel like a post-war city,
grey, all weakness burned away.
Monday, 26 September 2011
one amongst us is missing.
one amongst us has left his clothes on the shore.
one amongst us is absent in our laughter,
one less shadow like a slow disaster
one less voice leaves us briefly silent;
deaf after the explosion
numb after the exposure
five senses and a loss
of one shade in the spectrum.
one amongst us has left his boots at the door,
and taken naked barefoot to that wild.
Sunday, 4 September 2011
I feel life starting like waves crashing on the shore in recurring dreams
east end streets crowded in the evenings with the energy of elsewhere
ramadan passing outside barber shops and boys who are all talk on the corner
offer me drugs on saturday night after work. now I finally understand the weekend,
I suppose this is adulthood. well, didn’t it just slip in through the back door?
not far between cambridge and cambridge heath but don’t the nights smell different,
with the rain falling on cable street the day after blackshirts in wifebeaters
tried their luck a second time. the words don’t come easily to me like they did -
that’s a kind of innocence, I traded it for that easy confidence you buy with
weekly essays and white stones. circling back to the place I was born I find it foreign,
circling back to the old words I find they’re coming unbidden like sickness or passion
they pass just as fast. walking the ditches and fields of the city like ley lines that might lead
to some essential truth, brushing cold shoulders with the suits that seem unburdened
by the history lying grave deep beneath us, I remember we promised to live on for
those we left in the earth, to feel life crashing like the waves, retreating only to return.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Ree Dolly is teaching her little brother to skin a squirrel. Pulling out the guts and innards, he looks up at his sister and asks, ‘Do we eat these?’ She pauses. ‘Not yet.’ It is a rare moment of dark humour in the otherwise heart-breaking Winter’s Bone.
Set deep in the backcountry of rural Missouri, this exquisite film is a devastating portrait of a forgotten America plagued by poverty and running on a black market of crystal meth.
Ree’s father Jessop is a meth ‘cook’, recently arrested and now missing. Jessop has put up the family’s house and surrounding wood-land as collateral for his bail and Ree must find him before it is seized and her mentally-ill mother and two young siblings are thrown out to ‘live like dogs in the field’. She embarks on a journey that takes her deeper into the harsh landscape of the Ozark mountains and its cattle markets, hill-billy bars, burnt-out meth labs and bare frozen forests. Her determination and fortitude against mafia-like silence and startling violence eventually lead her to the darkest depths of her community in the film’s genuinely shocking climax.
Ree Dolly is played with extraordinary skill by twenty-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, who has even been tipped for an Oscar for her performance. Ree’s raw strength and resolute spirit makes her perhaps one of the most arresting female characters in recent American film.
Winter’s Bone has already received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. I can only add my voice to the chorus of praise. This is an unforgettably haunting film and, despite all its bleakness, contains moments of incredible beauty. The final shots of Ree with her younger brother and sister echo Dorothea Lange’s famous portrait of a migrant woman and her children in the Dust Bowl.
Winter’s Bone is finally a story of survival and dignity in the face of poverty and struggle. Like Lange’s photographs, it belongs to a poignant tradition of alternative histories of the United States and is a testament to the indomitable strength of the human spirit.
Monday, 14 March 2011
Monday, 14 February 2011
A little post to mark my birthday. I recently had some poems published in Gender Agenda , a fantastic feminist magazine and blog. I wanted to write something positive about female sexuality, and even promiscuity. I came up with this.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
The first thing James Ellroy asks me is, "Have you read my book? Do you hate me yet?"
It’s hard to say.
Known for his bestsellers L.A Confidential and The Black Dahlia, Ellroy has been called "the demon dog of America crime fiction". His latest autobiographical work, The Hilliker Curse, takes as its starting point the events leading up to his mother’s murder in 1958. Ellroy issued the curse of the title when he wished his mother dead during an argument three months before she was killed. Her murderer was never found and he has been haunted by guilt ever since.
As a young man Ellroy turned to drugs, drink and petty crime, breaking into women’s houses in his native Los Angeles and stealing their underwear. It was not until he was in his thirties, sober and working as a golf-caddy that he wrote his first novel Brown’s Requiem. His work often returns to 1950s and 60s Los Angeles at the height of noir. He tells me his male protagonists are "men who want things and who become so utterly exhausted with their own essential maleness that they are only teachable by women. And I’ve been that way my entire life."
The Hilliker Curse is a departure from fiction and a companion piece to Ellroy’s 1995 memoir My Dark Places, which details his inconclusive attempt, with the help of a detective, to solve his mother’s murder. It was written following the dissolution of his marriage and a nervous breakdown.
Realising that he and his mother "comprised a love story rather than a crime story," he saw at last that the "‘primary journey’ of his life had been women."
Ellroy has been a life-long, self-proclaimed obsessive pursuer of women. He claims that the new book attempts to grant each of the major women in his life a "separate and distinct selfhood, whilst acknowledging that this drive has rendered all of them a blur," adding, "There are faces that I can recall of women glimpsed in train stations fifty years ago who I think of on a daily basis."
Is The Hilliker Curse really about women at all? It reads more like an exploration of Ellroy’s own psyche. He admits that this might be the case, telling me, "It’s about the notion in the abstract of formative trauma as progenitor of sexuality and romantic ardour. I am formed in trauma."
Don’t read The Hilliker Curse looking for a love story: more than a romance, it is a dark and disturbing chronicle of one man’s fixation.