History is nothing without memory, memorials, and remembrances. And on such a day as this, the marking of the end of the First World War, there is a particular resonance to what it means today. As Hobsbawm termed it, this was the beginning of the short 20th century, which started with horrific loss of lives due to the power hungry international alliances, and ended in what at the time seemed a somewhat relative peaceful transition with the fall of the Berlin Wall. You could call it the slow death of empires. (more…)
Well, the three months since starting Proletarian Poetry certainly went quickly. December was a bit of a quieter month in terms of number of posts but there were great poems, some of which spread across continents and covered such themes as gender, family, friendship, poverty, and pacts with the Devil.
First up in December were three short poems from Ethiopian poet, Bewketu Seyoum‘s “In Search of Fat”. I was introduced to Bewketu’s translator, Chris Beckett at The Shuffle, which is the last Saturday of the month in the Poetry Cafe. Seyoum’s poems, trace the history of Ethiopia and the struggle of its people to find freedom and peace. (more…)
Back in the late 70s and early 80s, two genres of political music came together – punk and reggae. Starting out with punk in ’77, I was introduced to what I believe was the high tide of reggae through the likes of Don Letts, The Clash, Mikey Dread, John Lydon. At that time there was an overt racism in the UK; when seeing The Stranglers, the support act was the Birmingham reggae band Steel Pulse. When they took to the stage large groups of the crowd began singing, ‘Gimme a Banana’.
But despite this, artists such as Burning Spear, Culture, Gregory Isaacs, Black Uhuru, Prince Far I, Big Youth, raised the consciousness of many punks about black history. Linton Kwesi Johnson in particular spoke about the discrimination faced by black people in the UK and wrote a poem about Walter Rodney. (more…)