BACK FROM THE BRINK?

by Stu Lucy

Cooped up in an office in Uganda, inputting into what seemed like never-ending columns of cells in Excel spreadsheets, I would often ruminate about other jobs I could be doing which at that moment would be relatively more fulfilling and life affirming. One of the jobs I kept ending back at was as a member of one of the security teams responsible for the protection of the last northern white rhinoceroses: Sudan, Najin and her daughter Fatu. While in reality I knew my poor grasp of Swahili and lack of weapons training made it unlikely I’d ever work with the rangers responsible for the security of these magnificent animals residing within Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, I became interested in their plight, following their turbulent existence ever since.

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THE 100FT TALL CANARY

by Stu Lucy

Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.Continue Reading

ON IMMIGRATION 5. BANKING ON THE FUTURE

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by Stu Lucy

 

In my previous piece I outlined a theory that compared the woes of our current modern condition to a biological model of a disease increasing its prevalence across the planet, particularly in the Western world. Although slightly macabre, I feel it was necessary to characterise the systemic issue of unbridled growth in such a dramatic and sensational fashion – after all it is the fate of humankind, and well… the planet, we are talking about here.

I finished with a simple analogy calling for global treatment of this cancer that has befallen us since the mantra of growth has been so fanatically professed by economists, politicians, and industrialists alike. How though may we undertake such a gargantuan task that requires the remodelling of all aspects of our societies, from our education systems to popular culture to our entire global trade system?Continue Reading

ON IMMIGRATION 4. TIME TO TREAT THE DISEASE

by Stu Lucy

Humans move, we always have done and always will do. Our movement has evolved through the existence of our species from necessity – following the seasonal availability of food – to luxury, such as holidays and recreational travelling. While part  of our species has been afforded the opportunity to travel around the planet in our spare time, absorbing the multitude of cultures and landscapes it has to offer, there continues to exist a drive to move to find something better, not for food, as in pre-modern times, but economic and/or environmental security. Economic, climate and conflict migrant populations are increasing year on year, and are so for one very good reason: a global disease.

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PLATONIC POLYAMORY: A 2018 VALENTINE’S CONCLUSION

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by Sunetra Senior

This Valentine’s Day was distinctive. In addition to the usual encouragement of self-love, and sending of gushing gifs amongst female friends, more people were sending greetings to family members and stressing the importance of acts of love within the community. Ash Sarkar, Senior Editor of Novara Media, said emphatically in a video message: ‘when you stop a charter flight from taking off and deporting asylum seekers, that’s love’. Perhaps an effect of delayed liberal mobilisation, after such angry right-wing resurgence, the concept of growing close to one another is being gradually – literally – redefined to be more liberal.Continue Reading

THE SUMMER OF STARS LESS STRIKING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Biancamaria Frabotta (1946 – ), ‘L’estate delle stelle…’

The summer of stars less striking
encouraged locals and strangers
to hope in a return of ancient climates.
On the yellow grass unstable in the sparse
humours drinks remained half-full
another fuel to have sleepless nights.Continue Reading

ONE-PARTY STATE

by Julian Canlas

1.

She beheads
herself for independence

Patron saint of privileged beggars
she petrifies old edifices to fix
dying traditions

She bleaches the open fields
and the streets

She ceases to bleed

The body curses its own
mortalityContinue Reading

TRUTH OR FICTION? THE WORLD OF HYPERNORMALISATION

by Liam Hawkes

Surreal. Beautiful. Terrifying. Adam Curtis’ newest documentary can be described in many ways. It bombards us with messages and narratives which seem to have emancipatory power by simply exposing the chains we all appear to wear. This mesmerising piece of film-making taps into the psyche of human consciousness, getting to the root of how we feel and why we feel it. Once again Curtis has created a terrifying exposé of the confusing and uncertain world we live in.
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NORMALISING CBT; MAKING VISIBLE MENTAL HEALTH

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by Sunetra Senior

If your friend says ‘I’ve started going to the gym’ it is considered undisputedly positive; if they tell you ‘I’m getting CBT’, suddenly the atmosphere becomes tense. They seem to feel awkward as they tell you, and you don’t quite know how to react. They might as well have told you they’ve contracted an STD. But Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave — is only good for you.  It is evidence of a sensible choice. And yet, sweating, starving and interfacing with an inanimate, rectangular scale every morning, is more attractive to people than sitting in a comfortable chair and talking leisurely with someone you trust.Continue Reading

HOW CAN WE LEARN TO IDENTIFY WITH OUR PLANET?

by Liam Hawkes

I haven’t read a lot of science fiction. I have only heard of a handful of authors, and probably couldn’t name many of their books. But as soon as I turned the first page of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, I was hooked. His beautiful philosophical musings – in Bill Johnston’s English translation – about the nature of consciousness, perception, and the environment struck a chord with me. Which started me thinking about how we interact with our own environment here on Earth, and how perhaps we could benefit from a revaluation of our ideals. Continue Reading

REVIEW: WARSAN SHIRE’S HER BLUE BODY

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by Carmina Masoliver

In 2013 I was amongst around twenty poets long-listed for the first Young Poet Laureate for London prize. I remember meeting Warsan Shire that day; she seemed quiet, perhaps nervous, yet confident and bold. We performed one piece to a panel of judges, and I was either before or after Shire. Although she prefers writing to performing her work, I remember being blown away by not only the words, but the delivery of her poem Ugly. I remember that I had already heard lines quoted by Kayo Chingonyi from a workshop he was leading for students at the school where I work. It was no surprise when Shire was shortlisted, much less when she won.

To have the power to write poetry that sticks in the mind is certainly a gift that Shire bestows in much of her work. I have since had the pleasure of seeing Shire again at the launch of the first Podium Poets anthology, by Spread the Word, and attended workshops lead by her on an Arvon retreat. As an aspiring poet, she is an inspiration to many as a writer and as a human being.Continue Reading

YEAR IN REVIEW

by Jake Reynolds

In response to 2015.

I saw terror through a lens
and the public shaming friendships.
We called it proper work.

Feeling so very comfortable eating churros with a bunch of pregnant women! Just what I needed, the perfect chill yummy food birthday!!!!Continue Reading

HUMAN PROBLEMS, HUMAN SOLUTIONS – AN INTERVIEW WITH BABAR LUCK

by Chris Jarvis

In underground music circles, Babar Luck is something of a legend. For more than twenty years, he has been a staple feature of the UK punk scene, blending and smashing genres along the way. Starting as the bassist of seminal London band King Prawn, notorious for their eclectic influences which drew upon hardcore, reggae, metal, punk and hip-hop, Babar has gone on to have an illustrious solo folk career, as well as working on new bands such as East End Trinity and collaborative projects The Babylon Whackers and Suicide Bid, while providing guest vocals for friends and comrades in the scene such as Sonic Boom Six and Random Hand. Babar Luck’s musical outputs have been beyond any doubt, inhumanly prolific.Continue Reading

THE PARIS CLIMATE SUMMIT: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HUMANITY TO SEIZE

by Natasha Senior

For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.

The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.

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ART: WHY DOES IT MATTER?

by Jess Howard

With the threat of terrorist attacks and war seeming to dominate every newspaper front page and website, it can be easy to ask if we should still place any importance on the visual arts. With daily news telling us that more and more people are dying, starving, or becoming homeless, many may ask if we should concern ourselves with art at all. But, when we really consider it, we can see that an aversion to what may be deemed frivolous and unnecessary is actually completely impossible.Continue Reading

LETTERS TO CATE BLANCHETT

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by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Cate Blanchett, it’s come to this. You know they say the world will end when
BBC Radio Four stops broadcasting? Well, I’ve been playing with the dials on
my Roberts Revival RD60 DAB and I don’t know about you but down my end I
swear the voices are getting fainter and fainter.

Cate Blanchett, look, it’s like this: the world is a ruin, like I said. I’m not pulling
your leg. I wrote a poem called Strikes because I thought talking about
doctors and bombs was really clever, see, because… sure, you get it.

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CONSTELLATIONS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Gilda Musa (1922-1999), ‘Costellazioni’

Coppering of stars, gold
illuminated designs, visible flashing
vanguards of a thousand million invisibiles,
sigils of a space that’s close and signs
of remote spacesContinue Reading

THE END IS NOT NIGH: THE REVOLUTION IS ALREADY HERE

By Gunnar Eigener

“Political action without the support of radical
mass movement inevitably becomes hollow.”

Chris Hedges

 

Positivity seems in short supply. Looking at the news and you might think that the end of days is upon us. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax. It might just be a glimpse, but there is something on the horizon.

There is no doubt that there are many terrible things happening to the planet and to its people. Yet history has taught us that in times of adversity people come together. It is easy to see how often people go against the wishes of their governments, to act humanely, decently. Just think of the migrant crisis and see how Europe have reacted. Think of the images and stories of citizens giving up their possessions and food and water to help strangers on their gruelling journey. In times of difficulty, humans are capable of great and generous acts. Under the right circumstances we will think nothing of giving away our material goods and food to others in need. If only we could realise that every time is the right circumstance.

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WE DON’T NEED TO TALK ABOUT ISLAM, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT HUMANITY

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by Gunnar Eigener

The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought back a feeling of despair, that no matter where we live, there is always someone who wants to hurt us. The shaky camera footage of police storming a building, the bangs of smoke grenades, the echoes of gunfire, have sent a shockwave through France, Europe and the world. In the aftermath, a reaction is already beginning and anger will turn on Muslim individuals, communities, businesses and places of worship. Already a petition to “Stop all immigration and close UK borders until ISIS is defeated” is circulating and has got over 383,000 signatures so far. This will not solve anything, nor will blaming Islam.

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ARE WE THE NAZIS NOW?

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by Robyn Banks

On the anniversary of VE day this year I tried to drive to the supermarket in my home town and was met by crowds of people in Sunday dress, lining the roads leading up to the war memorial and laying down wreaths of poppies as they waited for the procession, which I could hear approaching even from my car, complete with marching band. They were doing so to honour the soldiers lost in WW2; those who fought for our country, or, more ostensibly, those who fought for ‘freedom’.

There were many causes of the Second World War, but what we remember the Nazis for -the version of history we learn in school- is the holocaust. Children in history classes are taught to denounce a fascist regime which placed one type of person, the ‘true’ Aryan German, who was ‘really’ from Germany on the basis of their fair hair and white skin, in a hierarchy above other types of people who were not as worthy. This list included people who were disabled, gay or mentally ill but focussed mainly on Jews, who were considered to have little or no right to the land they lived in because of their ethnicity and heritage. They were not ‘true’ Germans. And it was freedom from this regime, freedom from persecution and discrimination, that most of us proudly believe we fought for. And it’s this which is epitomised in the phrase “If it weren’t for our brave soldiers, we might all be speaking German now”.

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