Friday, 21 July 2017

No apologies


Frozen moments preserve my presence
Time keeps tumbling on and on,
Slowly but surely I trip over the fear
Clouds are passing over wounds,
Medication soothes the brain
The rain releases the gift of affirmation,
Laughter escapes from the darkness
Out of the silence  trust engulfs,
To allow the cultivation of breath
Inner reason that speaks the truth,
Continuing journeys of navigation
Avenues of concentrated imagination,
To allow destruction to disappear
For peace to visit  my sanctuary,
Though life will always be a struggle
Friends I will always  respect,
Mind occasionally exhausted
Will be rebellious, offers no apologies.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Anais Nin (21/2/03 - 14/1/77) - You have a right to experiment with your life.


" You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you're not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn't a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.”    

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The taste of magic (After Tinariwen, Cardigan Castle 15/7/17)


Fierce calm descended
Near a brimming river,
African guerrillas released magic
Sky donned its celestine cloak;
People danced and swayed
Sipping wine, feeling nourishment,
Shadows stole kisses of friendship
And the scent of  memories.
Devotees captivated under moon
Danced together in space,
Rhythms soothing, licking minds
Haunting music carrying treasure,
From the Sahara sharing subtle beauty
Songs of dignity, freedom and unity,
Dispensing to all rolling guitar
Music flooded into souls,
From Mali, desert blues uplifting
Love has no ending.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Lost Songs of Palestine


Despite the precariousness of the peace that exists in the region,  the Palestinian voice still resonates.
Lost Songs of Palestine is a collection of traditional folk songs which have been sung by generations of Palestinians, but which have been recently overshadowed after years of occupation. With an outstanding performance by the world music group ANATOLIA, Lost Songs of Palestine captures the essence of a time long past and a future long awaited. Lost Songs of Palestine is a masterpiece which will inspire both Arabic and non-Arabic listeners.
The CD features both solo improvisations (taqasim) as well as ensemble works (both vocal and instrumental) representing traditional Palestinian urban and village music. Some of the songs are found in other parts of the Arab world where they are sung in popularized versions. But for Westerners, Lost Songs of Palestineis a new opportunity to learn about the culture and rich musical heritage of an ancient people.
ANATOLIA is a western Massachusetts-based group of talented musicians whose love and dedication to Middle Eastern music has earned them wide acclaim from both ethnomusicologists and audiences at sold-out performances. The musicians of ANATOLIA perform on authentic Middle Eastern folk music instruments including kanun (zither), baglama (long neck lute, also known as saz), divan sazi (large baglama), ud (short neck lute, also known as oud), klarnet (clarinet), keman (violin), nay (end blown flute, also known as ney), bandir (also known as deff), riqq (tambourine), mazhar (large tambourine), darbuka (dumbek), tabla, zills (finger cymbals) and vocals.
Lost Songs of Palestine includes: Weyn A Ramallah, Arrozana, Dommak Doom, Ya Meet Masa, Marmar Zamaani, Ala Dal'oona, Ya Hweydalak, Housnak Ya Zeyn, Mouwashshah Lamma Bada Yatathanna and Al Yadil Yadi.
ANATOLIA's first CD Folk Songs and Dance Music of Turkey and the Arab World was released in 1996. Lost Songs of Palestine was released in February, 2001. Middle Eastern Songs and Dances for Children was released in 2005.
Founded in 1994 and directed by Edward J. Hines, ANATOLIA is dedicated to the preservation of folk, classical and dance music traditions of the Middle East. The musicians of ANATOLIA strive to bring a new understanding of Middle Eastern cultures to Western audiences, while celebrating music and dance traditions its members have known since childhood.
From Edward Hines Music :- http://www.hinesmusic.com/Anatolia.html.

Friday, 14 July 2017

China's Nobel Laureate ,dissident leader and human rights hero Liu Xiaobo dies.


Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate and writer Liu Xiaobo, who was imprisoned since 2009 for calling for more freedom in his country, has died. He was recently released into hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer but died yesterday from multiple organ failure whilst under heavy armed guard.
The death of the 61-year-old dissident and veteran of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 has sent shockwaves through China’s activist community and among human rights campaigners across the world. In Hong Kong, about 100 democracy activists  protested outside China's liaison office.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said Mr Liu was a "courageous fighter for civil rights and freedom of expression", while the Norwegian Nobel Committee accused Beijing of having a “heavy responsibility for his premature death”.
Rex Tillerson, the United States’ Secretary of State, expressed condolences over the death of Mr Liu and called on Beijing to release his wife, the poet Liu Xia, and allow her to leave China.Mr Liu's wife  had been placed under house arrest in 2010, but was allowed to see him at the hospital  as her husband's health deteriorated over the past couple of weeks  before he died. Rights groups and Western governments have mourned Liu Xiaobo's death and also called for authorities to grant his wife Liu Xia and the rest of his family freedom of movement.  Her fate will now be the centre of concern among human rights groups.
Amid increasingly desperate calls from supporters for him  to be granted his dying wish to receive treatment for his condition abroad, Mr Liu remained in China where he died on Thursday evening, local officials said.His friends claim China’s refusal to allow him to travel overseas was an attempt to shorten his life, and ensure he could not criticise Beijing in his final moments.Beijing had repeatedly dismissed foreign criticism of its treatment of Mr Liu, saying that it is an internal affair.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Chinese government’s arrogance, cruelty, and callousness are shocking – but Liu’s struggle for a rights-respecting, democratic China will live on.”
Mr Liu was born to an intellectual family in Jilin province in China’s northeast and led a life of fearless activism.The former professor of literature at Beijing Normal University wrote about the value of individual freedoms and nonviolent resistance.
He was influential at the Tiananmen Square protests, which ended when tanks rolled into central Beijing killing hundreds, possibly over a thousand protesters.Mr Liu was said to have saved the lives of many students when he negotiated between the army and protesters as they ended their occupation of the square.
Liu Xiaobo was one of China’s preeminent dissident writers and activists.Devoted not only to the end of China's one-party rule but also to the absolute necessity of replacing it with a democratic system, he was committed to non-violent protest. He was arrested in December 2008 on the eve of the release of Charter 08,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_08 an extraordinary declaration he had co-authored calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule.
This bold manifesto, which was signed by more than 10,000 people after it went online, calls for the protection of basic human rights and the reform of China's one-party system.
- Words seen 'as crimes' -
Western governments, rights groups and fellow activists repeatedly called for his release.
Charter 08 specifically demands the abolition of subversion as a criminal offence.
"We should make freedom of speech, freedom of the press and academic freedom universal, thereby guaranteeing that citizens can be informed and can exercise their right of political supervision," it says.
"We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes."
Liu was subsequently held under ‘residential surveillance’ in a windowless room for more than six months. In June 2009, he was formally charged and transferred to the Public Security Bureau Detention Centre in Beijing,where he reported an improvement in his conditions; he was allowed outside and had detainees in his cell with whom he could talk. On 25 December 2009, Liu was convicted of ‘incitement to subversion’ for his role in Charter 08 and for several online articles. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Liu  spent much of his adult life as a target of the Chinese government. He played a crucial part in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in support of the students and leading calls for a sustainable democratic movement. He helped  negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military bloodily suppressed six week-long protests in the heart of Beijing.Despite spending two years  in prison for his role, he continued to speak out in favour of freedom of expression and democracy. As such, he spent an additional three years in a re-education-through-labour camp (1996-1999) and was regularly detained and harassed until his most recent arrest.
Liu had been a prominent member of PEN http://www.pen-international.org/ and served as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), which does on-the-ground advocacy work in China despite constant pressure from the authorities. In 2010 Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. Liu was the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize and one of only three people to have won it while detained by their own government. He was the second Nobel laureate to die in custody after German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital under the Nazis in 1938.
"I want to tell the regime that is withholding my freedom: I have no enemies," Liu wrote in an essay that was published worldwide in 2010. Liu included police officers, public prosecutors and judges in his statement. "I do not accept your surveillance, your confinement, your judgements," he wrote. "But I do respect your professions and your personalities." He added: "Hatred corrodes the wisdom and the conscience of a human being. Demonizing others can poison the spirit of a nation, destroy tolerance and humanity, and block the path to progress and democracy. I hope to be able to respond with best intentions to the hostility of the regime, and to defuse hatred with love." 
The text was read out on the stage when Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2010. The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored Liu for his long and non-violent fight for fundamental human rights in China. An empty chair sat where he would have were he not in prison.
This is a sad moment  for human rights, but Liu Xiaobo leaves behind a powerful legacy to inspire others to continue the struggle for human rights in China and around the world.
A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty. With courage and dignity he inspired millions. I hope he is the last victim in China's long record of treating words as crimes. It's leaders should bow their heads in collective shame.

Liu Xiaobo -  One letter

one letter is enough
for me to transcend
and face you to speak

as the wind blows
past the night
uses its own blood
to write a secret verse
that reminds me each word
is the last word

the ice in your body
melts into a myth of fire
in the eyes of the executioner
fury turns to stone

two sets of iron rails
unexpectedly overlap
moths flap toward lamp
light, an eternal sign
that traces your shadow

Happy Birthday Woody Guthrie ( 14/7/ 1912 -3/10/1967) - Folk Revolutionary


Today marks the  birthday of legendary left-winger, songwriter, poet of the people and musician Woody Guthrie. A man who celebrated the little guy, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised.
Tragedy first struck when Woody was still a young child. His father was a land trader, and soon made enough money in oil-mad Okemah to build a nice six-room home for the family; yet shortly after the Guthries moved in, the house burned down. By then, the depression was already beginning to bite, and his father couldn't afford another one. For the next few years, the Guthries moved from house to house as their fortunes got worse; and as if the falling family fortunes weren't enough, human tragedy struck too. Woody's favourite sister, Clara, died after being horribly burned by the explosion of an oil stove.
 Not long after, this  Woody's mother suffering from Huntingtons disease was sent to a mental asylum where she later died. A saddened and a broken man, Woody's dad did his best to keep happiness alive in the broken family: he would sing to his children, but, remembered Woody, "I could tell by the sounds of his voice that he was not singing to make his own self feel good, but to try and make us kids feel better." Then the family home burned down for the second time.
A growing youth by then, Guthrie  overcame his own  personal hardship and tragedy and set of to seek  his fortune far from the sad memories of his childhood. Hitch-hiking across America with a guitar on his back and paintbrushes in his pocket, he made for  California, joining the crowds of Okies seeking a better life in the West. He mixed with the migrant farm workers, and learned their trade, singing about it in some of his finest "Dustbowl Ballads"; He became a spokesman for those Americans affected by the Great Depression and the dust storms. and sung out to sufferers of the Depression, the Dust Bowl era, and the second World War. He advocated the unions and scorned the corporations. But the formulas for writing the “people’s songs” didn’t rest in social justice alone; Guthrie’s wit, humor and home-spun vernacular attracted too and avoided pretension.
In the 1930s, Guthrie was among the many who climbed out of the western states’ disastrous Dustbowl; he brought with him original songs that catalogued the sights and emotions of the day: “So Long, Its Been Good to Know You”, “I’m Blowin’ Down This Old Dusty Road”, “Talking Dust Bowl Blues”, among many more. Once in California, Woody soon learned that it was no land of milk and honey. However, instead of toiling in fruit orchards, he became a radio performer, offering his old-timey and topical music to the southerners who’d migrated to the West Coast. While the station manager tried desperately to hold Woody to the country standards, somewhere in the mix was an original called “Mr. Tom Mooney is Free”. This 1939 composition told of the recently pardoned labor activist, a cause celebre in Left circles, who’d been wrongly imprisoned for 22 years. Very soon, he got a reputation as an outspoken defender of the poor and the exploited, and a well-armed enemy of those who exploited them. "I saw the hundreds of thousands of stranded, broke, hungry, idle, miserable people that lined the highways.... I heard these people sing in their jungle camps, and I sang songs I made up for them," he wrote.
Soon, Woody was renowned as a militant labor unionist, a champion of the public cause against private greed.In 1941, he was taken on by the Bonneville Power Administration, a state-run organisation, to help them win public approval for two vast dam projects on the Columbia River. The BPA project was hotly contested by the owners of private power companies, who did not want to lose their monopoly over the electricity supply in the region. Woody's collection of "Columbia River Songs" is a major contribution to the social history of the American West in the 1930s and early 40s, fixing in song and poetry the trials of a generation of rural Americans. In part thanks to Woody, the dams were built.
From his first song, “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Ya” which he wrote about a huge dust storm while living in Pampa, Texas, Woody Guthrie chronicled the changing world that he saw.
He could describe the deprivations of migrant workers but still insist that "pastures of plenty must always be free.” his songs touch on issues ranging from immigration (“Deportee”) see earlier post, about this song here, https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/the-continung-relevance-of-woody.html


to corrupt financial institutions (“The Jolly Banker”)


to the plight of the working class (“Union Maid”) — age-old problems that continue to dominate the modern news. He re-wrote some of his songs, lambasting the racist developer/landlord, Fred Trump, father of the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. A developer who made a fortune, not only through the construction of "public" housing projects but also through collecting the rents on them. Woody used his songs and other creative works as social commentary, promoting social justice issues such as treating all people fairly no matter what colour or economic status, political belief or place of origin.
The radicalism he brought into his songs was seldom forced; it was organically and seamlessly connected with a kind of humanistic appreciation of working people’s everyday struggles. He was, in his own words, “out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world.” songs that were made for you and me. Although he was unblinking in the face of suffering and injustice, he had a persistent streak of optimism. He seemed really to believe that music could change the world for the better, confidently writing on his guitar, “This machine kills fascists.” He was a radical, a revolutionary who believed if imperialists raised their ugly heads, it was time to battle them in bloody struggles. To the Fascists, he sent the ultimate warning:

“I’ll bomb their towns and bomb their cities
Sink their ships beneath the tides,
I’ll win this war, but till I do, babe,
I could not be satisfied.”

Guthrie’s ‘machine’ indeed ‘killed Fascists’. And he appealed to human reasoning through radical folk renditions that founded the landscape of protest music worldwide. And he never faltered from why he needed to sing what he did.

Woody Guthrie - Tear the fascists down.
 

Woody Guthrie - All you fascists Bound to lose. 


Woody Guthrie is also remembered for “This Land is Your Land”, his anthem reclaiming America for ordinary people. It was his own contemptuous response to the success of “God Bless America. It is often considered the nation's second national anthem



Many of the things he concerns himself with in song in the late 1930s are still with us today and though its disconcerting to know we haven’t solved those things, at the same time it’s reassuring that Guthrie’s music is still there to shed light on these issues. During hard times, people who are struggling to find a emotional accessible moral philosophy that can give hope can still find it in the words of this poet of the people Woody Guthrie. He taught us that an artist must not be confined to the world of imagination alone. The battlefield is an unequal world and the war against injustice is absolutely on. Until that war is won, the artist must not be satisfied!
In the 1950s, Woody was one of the many artists and writers to fall victim to the MacCarthyist witch-hunts for supposed "Communists". Publishers gave up publishing his collections, and his most famous songs, such as "This Land is My Land", were presented as "anonymous".
By the late 1940s, Guthrie's health was declining, and his behavior was becoming extremely erratic. It was finally determined that he was suffering  himself from Huntington's disease, this terrible se, a genetic disorder inherited from his mother.Increasingly unable to control his muscles, an incurable victim of a slowly spreading paralysis he  was hospitalized at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County, New Jersey, from 1956 to 1961, at Brooklyn State Hospital (now Kingsboro Psychiatric Center) in East Flat Bush until 1966, and finally at  Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, New York, until his tragic death in 1967 aged only 55. During the last years of his life, he lay in bed, a dying hero, forgotten by many but regularly visited by a small band of  faithfull , many of whom were later to make sure that after his death, Woody would not be forgotten.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new generation of young people was inspired by folk singers such as Guthrie. These "folk revivalists" became more politically aware in their music than those of the previous generation.  By the time of his death, his work had been discovered by a new audience, introduced to them through the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Ramblin Jack Elliot,
Thank you Woody Guthrie, a folk revolutionary who continues to inspire and strike a chord or two. His songs and time remain eternal.

Revolutionary Mind - Woody Guthrie


Night is here again, baby,
I'm stretched out on my bed
Seeing all kinds of crazy notions
Running through my head

I need a progressive woman;
I need an awfully liberal woman.
There ain’t no reactionary baby
Can ease my revolutionary mind.

One hand is on my pillow,
One hand is on my head,
I see a million nightmares
Tearing around inside my head;

I need a progressive woman
I need an awful liberal woman
I need a social conscious woman
To ease my revolutionary mind.

If I could only make you see, babe,
I ache and pain and bleed,
I know you’d come a runnin;
If you blistered both your feet.

I need a progressive woman
I need an awful liberal woman
I need a social conscious woman
To ease my revolutionary mind.

All you fascists bound to lose  - Woody Guthrie


I’m gonna tell you fascists
You may be surprised
The people in this world
Are getting organized
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us
This one thing we know
Your poll tax and Jim Crow
And greed has got to go
You’re bound to lose

You fascists bound to lose.
All of you fascists bound to lose:
I said, all of you fascists bound to lose:
Yes sir, all of you fascists bound to lose:
You’re bound to lose! You fascists:
Bound to lose!

People of every color
Marching side to side
Marching ‘cross these fields
Where a million fascists dies
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!

I’m going into this battle
And take my union gun
We’ll end this world of slavery
Before this battle’s won
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!



Thursday, 13 July 2017

Not ready yet


In losing I knew what  I'd lost
Still recognising the joy and pain,
By the rivers edge, death called
Beckoning me to come closer,
No, I gently replied I'll bide my time
My spirit for now seeks existence,
Even when shadows darken
And my heart has been broken,
Still finding solace on this earth
Got lots of things to get done,
Guess the end will have open door policy
This is life's promise, it's simple honesty,
I'm simply not ready yet.