The frame is divided into three sections, with the top heading – ‘United States of America In’. All three section has a United States Airforce aircraft, visually moving from one section to another. In the first frame, on the left, the US Airforce aircraft is coming in dropping weapons like assault rifles and stringer missile launchers, each attached to a parachute. They are being dropped to the ground where a sign board pointing ahead appears on which Afghanistan is written. On the top of this first frame, 1979 is written, to indicate the US support to the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, who later formed the Taliban.
In the second section, in the middle, the US aircraft is dropping bombs on Afghanistan (a sign board is visible on ground) and on the top 2001 is written marking the US invasion of Afghanistan. The third and last section, with the text 2021 written at the top shows the US aircraft flying away with two people falling off the plane to the ground with a sign board ‘Afghanistan’ pointing back, representing the actual incident of Afghans, trying to leave the country after US withdrawal and Taliban takeover, falling off a US air force aircraft during take off from Kabul International Airport.
This year’s Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse has been a mixture of online and in-person events. Although I had hoped to be able to attend more events, and accessing the festival hasn’t been easy, it was a pleasure to listen to poets Cecilia Knapp and Alexandra Huỳnh in conversation as I tucked into my dinner at home.
Santa Maria Capua Vetere is a small town in the southern Italian region of Campania. A few weeks ago, prison surveillance videos emerged showing guards brutally attacking prisoners after inmate protests took place in April 2020. The footage is proof not only of the abuse of power that takes place in silence in Italian prisons every day, but it also highlights the urgent need for Italy to reevaluate its penal system. Despite being sparked by demands for better Covid protection and testing, last Spring’s protests were a culmination of longstanding issues which have characterised the Italian judicial and penal system for too long; from lack of basic hygiene standards to a general slowness in judicial processes – not to mention the extreme levels of violence perpetrated by prison guards.
Perhaps Marcus Rashford was trying to be too precise. Whilst Frank Lampard, my dad and thousands of others criticised Rashford’s stuttering steps in the build-up to his penalty, he successfully sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way. Had his effort been just a few inches to the right it would have been hailed as a brilliant penalty. But elite sport is a game of inches.
The following was originally published as the afterword to the collection Love after Babel and Other Poems by Chandramohan S, published in January 2020 by Daraja Press. The collection won the Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Outstanding Book Award in January of this year. You can order a copy direct from Daraja Press here.
They ask me why do you write poems? I write poems – the people have the right to…bear arms.
These lines, taken from his one-stanza masterpiece ‘Why Do I Write Poetry?’, encapsulate the very essence of Chandramohan S’ approach to his craft in his third collection, Love after Babel and Other Poems. These poems are unapologetically weapons, fighting against the pre-modern notion of caste in all its insidious 21st century glory.
Sometimes, it’s hard not to laugh at contemporary British politics. The fall of Matt Hancock is the latest instalment in this ongoing political sitcom. Hancock, the Partridge-esque Health Secretary who came to prominence during the pandemic, was forced to resign a few weeks ago through external pressure following an extramarital affair with one of his aides, Gina Coladangelo.
We look back – perhaps forward – to the counterculture of the 1960s to try to understand optimism, or possibility, or hope. The abolition of the future over the course of the decades between then and now creates a clean, blank break, an insurmountable barrier in the collective (un)consciousness, that renders many of the ideas for radically new, collective styles of living, doing and being incomprehensible to us, the generations born after the ‘end of history’. The impossibility, to our 21st century minds, of alternative modes of social reproduction, for example, is the result, and process, of what cultural theorist Mark Fisher (1968-2017) called capitalist realism – the doctrine we are all subjected to which claims that the way things are is the only way that they can be, and that any attempt to do anything else is doomed to failure. There Is No Alternative.
In the past few months, Italy has witnessed lengthy debates concerning a new anti-discrimination bill due to be passed by the Senate. Named the ‘Zan’ Bill after deputy Alessandro Zan, who proposed it, the bill’s main resolution is to criminalise hate speech. The proposition is to expand an existing law against racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, so that is also covers discrimination based on gender, sexuality and disability.
“Stop whining, you ungrateful inbred bastards, it’s our money that keeps you afloat” or some variant of that sentiment is regularly heard by Cornish people and permanent residents of Cornwall. Particularly in the summer. Particularly when we register our frustration at being priced out of communities we grew up in; at pristine green land being built upon, despite the presence of thousands of empty homes; and particularly when we dare to register our opinion that people are not entitled to as many houses as they like, no matter how wealthy they are. The severe levels of poverty experienced in parts of Cornwall are completely overlooked by wealthy holiday home-owners and the government (the two being far from mutually exclusive). It is hidden from view sufficiently that it will not dirty their holiday photos, it will not visibly encroach upon the sandy beaches or the pristine sea. They can pretend that everybody in Cornwall is as thick as portrayed in the TV show Doc Martin while maintaining a wilful ignorance about the devastating effects their Airbnb accommodation or holiday home is wreaking upon the county they proclaim to love.
Conversations around sexual assault, particularly the danger to women, are often sparked too late. The horrifying, untimely deaths and treatment of Sarah Everard and Blessing Olusegun by police rightly attracted attention, but vigils in their names cannot undo the violence against them. They can instil solidarity between those mourning and sympathising, but often, once the tealights are extinguished, so are the conversations.