Goddess Summons The Nation

Our societies are in deep crisis.

The latest strand of the capitalist-nationalist virus is particularly aggressive: Brexit, Trump and various other ethno-populist movements across the Globe, disguised under democratic wrappings, represent a great danger for Humanity and Nature.

Wars, discriminations of all types and poverty will only get worse in the New World Dis-order.

In this book, Goddess opens proceedings and summons culprits, victims and heroes to make their case in poetic form: irony, joy, bitterness and hope come together through rhythmic directness and daring metaphors.

The first book of the Goddess Series, Los viajes de Diosa (The Travels of Goddess), was published in 2015 in Spain and came as a response to the Great Recession.

Tony Martin-Woods is an artivist who lives in England since 1995. He runs Transforming with Poetry Leeds, and contributes to 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Under his Spanish name, he directs the digitisation project Poesía Ártemis and is the UK Delegate for Crátera, where he publishes translations into Spanish. His work has appeared in various anthologies and in Poetry Life and Times.

Ríos de Sangre

Ríos de sangre

Todos somos provisionales
en este mundo
y en estas tierras.

Incluso aquellos que aún viven
en el mismísimo paritorio
del hospital en que nacieron,
agarrados al potro de la cama
donde aterrizaron al salir
del viente de sus madres.
Aquellos que aún no han limpiado
su propio líquido amniótico.

Todos somos provisionales
en estas tierras
y en este mundo.
Incluso aquellos que alardean
como si fuera mérito suyo
de haber nacido en tal o cual sitio
como la patata que presume
de haber elegido el bancal donde creció.

Incluso aquellos que planifican
dónde irse a vivir
usando hojas de cálculo
para determinar el lugar
que mejores exenciones fiscales
y retribuciones profesionales ofrece.

Incluso aquellos que llegaron
por accidente, como yo,
a un paisaje verde y amable
y nunca vieron el día
de comprar billete de vuelta.

Incluso aquellos que se ven
forzados a abandonar
sus pueblos y ciudades
asediados por el caos capitalista
del hambre y de las guerras,
aquellos que huyen de la muerte o de la miseria.

Incluso aquellos que sueñan con caras distintas,
con horizontes nuevos, con aires inéditos.

Todos somos provisionales
en este mundo
y en estas tierras,
porque somos los Ríos de Sangre
que alimentan los Océanos de Esperanza.

“Ríos de Sangre”: Título que se le ha dado al tristemente famoso discurso anti-inmigración pronunciado en 1968 por Enoch Powell en el que evocó la sangre en el Río Tíber de la Eneida de Virgilio (Siglo I a.C.)

Traducido del poema original en inglés, Rivers of Blood, por el autor
Poema publicado por primera vez en ‘Contra: poesía ante la represión’. Coordinadora Anti Represión de la Región de Murcia. 2016.

The Night of Trump

I held my heart,
my breath,
my iPad.

I looked through the screen
like an agonising wizard
who casts
his eyes
on the hidden
guts
of a crystal
ball.

How many emotions,
how much attention,
could the map
of the States
withstand?

Never,
never
red and blue,
the numbers of colleges,
the random borders
of arbitrary plots
meant to me
what they meant that night:

an evil that no soul
will ever forgive,
a twilight that our dawn
will have to redeem.

The Flight of the Figs

Once upon a time
I was a fig

(Yes, a fig)

full of little flowers inside,
plenty of endless dreams…

I was born
in a casual tree
of those that nobody grooms,
of those that never get rain,
of those that drain you to death.

Shrivelled,
punished by birds
who picked on my white sweaty sweetness
and left me scarred,
but made me stronger.

One day,
an arrogant orange,
of a garden nearby,
called for a meeting of peers
and suggested the idea
of forming a fruital system.

(Yes, a fruital system)

The rest of fruits agreed.

So, the orange stood in the centre,
cause she was too tangy to spin.

Everyone else
came forward
in a perfect queue
that started to curl
coiling outwards
around the self-proclaimed star.

The apple, the peach, the pear,
the lemon and even the grape
found quickly a place
in a galaxy they called
“The Juicy Way”.

They all looked so lush,
immaculate,
divine,
waitrosy,
as they floated
in their glorious ether
of mechanically smooth subjects.

I want a place in this system,
I said.
I want to be an aster too.
I deserve to be there,
rotating
in harmony
with you.

The apple and some others
started to giggle
with patronising
swivel-eyed disdain.

I am sorry my love,
said the eloquent
smiley
sunny leader,
but this is a fruital system
where everything works
out of our own

combined

accord.

Everyone wins,

everyone contributes.

The magnetic fields
of our respective masses
are already balanced.

That is why we levitate up here,
so graciously.

If we take you on,
we will have to open the floodgates of the universe.

How many more fruits
could we feasibly accommodate?

So, after this rational rejection,
I had no choice
but to become
a zero-hours planet,
also known as a comet.

(Yes, a comet)

So now,
I am a wrinkly wild comet
full of odd rugged cracks.
I am not round,
not even pear shaped,
I have no clouds,
no satellites,
no green bits,
no rings of dust,
no frozen lakes of gas…
but I don’t give a damn!

I am a prince of the universe,
planets fear my freedom,
no one knows my trajectory,
it is hard to land on my surface,
I come and go as I please.

But if someone

if someone on behalf
of that master of creation
messes about with my equations
pushing me out my orbit,
I may end up crashing
on one of their gardenly planets.

And, who knows?

If some shepherds see
my falling tail,
flying in the night
in the skies in winter,
they may grant me godly status
an invent a religion
at my place of collision.

Who knows?

I have nothing to lose.

I am a wrinkly wild comet,

I am a pirate
in an orderly show of stars
who learnt their moves
in the Youtube version
of the Book of Genesis,
in the phallic columns
of The Sun Says,
in the go-home section
of the Daily Mail.

Watch them
as they tamper
with Victorian
time machines!

Watch them,
as they sink
in the black hole
of their Brexit!

Unlike them,
I am my own choreographer.

Only infinite heavens will tell you
what I am made of!

Simple!

Watch me!

Watch me as I fly!
with millions of figs like me, like you,
away from a supernova
of stupid national greed.

Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

Originally published in Poetry Life and Times as “The fig”
http://www.artvilla.com/plt/the-fig-a-poem-by-tony-martin-woods/

Image ”Bursting at the seams” courtesy of ESA/Hubble, Creative Commons Licence International 4.0 Attribution (CC BY 4.0)

Brexit Xenophobia

A friend of mine told me last night that she was recently insulted for being a foreign migrant in the UK. As she had finished a phone conversation during which she had to spell her surname, the man next to her on the bus looked at her full of hate and said something rude suggesting she should go back to her own country.

Another friend of mine, who blindly supports Brexit, had told me few days before this happened, in a conversation about xenophobia and freedom of expression of migrants on the issue of the referendum, that if anyone receives ethnic abuse or violence, they must report it to the police.

This is wishful thinking, and quite frankly, naïve. Our police forces cannot deal effectively with this kind of low level, yet highly perverse and hurtful violence. They are overstretched and they would struggle to catch people like that man on the bus and get any kind of meaningful redress from him. Most people I know share this belief. In fact, I have heard of xenophobic behaviour in the past and I cannot recall one single instance in which ringing up the police was even suggested. To me, if things are getting to a point in which police intervention is needed to tackle xenophobia, yet victims do not feel that bringing the police in would help, it is clearly too late for the politicians and the State to tackle the issue effectively.

Of course, many of these xenophobic rude people must feel that they are just expressing their national anger resulting from the horrible effects of migration and membership of the EU. They replicate, in their own language and code, what the right-wing newspapers have been telling them for the last 20 years about migration and the EU. But the same is true of other Tory and UKIP xenophobes who, as members of the middle classes, have learnt to coach their nastiness towards migrants in a way that would not get them into any kind of trouble. No name calling, no swearing. And, of course, this xenophobia can take many other shapes. Do you remember the French Lady in Question Time last week who was shut down by a fervent audience when she said “well, we are all Brussels”. (She was trying to challenge the belief that there is an evil entity trying to control the UK personified in UK Brexit discourse as “Brussels”).

Are there Brexiters who are not xenophobes?

Of course there are, I know some nice normal people who want to leave the EU, but they should acknowledge that if it was not for all the “patriotic”, anti-EU and anti-migration propaganda of newspapers like The Sun and The Daily Mail over the years, UKIP and the Brexit campaign would not have prospered in terms of number of supporters and voters as much as they have. Perhaps that would give them a better understanding of what type of country they are promoting by supporting Brexit.

What about the Brexit right-wing elites, the ones behind all this, the ones who would never share a bus with the man who insulted my friend?

We must remind them that they have come this far in their political and business aspirations on the back of a rabidly xenophobic horse which their media have spurred. It is their responsibility, more than anyone else’s, to help us to put down the beast they have nurtured as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I don’t think these elites are up to the job. Besides, if Brexit wins, they will be too busy over the next ten years trying to desperately negotiate new business and trade deals, for themselves and/or for the country as a whole, to care about anything else, never mind social cohesion and peace.

Image credits: Hope not Hate

Remain. Stand for Democracy.

“Ah, thanks to the EU referendum we are going to see some democracy at last. In fact, we are recovering our democracy. We have had enough of the European Union”, said a Leave supporter to me last week.

What a misguided idea!

The EU is an organisation made up by National Governments. All the important EU laws, the EU Treaties, have to be passed by each one of the European Governments, including our own Government in the UK.

It is up to individual countries (the EU has no say on this) to decide how these European Treaties are approved internally, at the national level. In our case, it is our MPs in Westminster who have voted in favour of every single one of the EU treaties, often following tough negotiations, for the last 40 years. The Treaty of Maastricht, The Treaty of Nice, The Treaty of Lisbon were signed by a British Prime Minister following parliamentary debate in the UK.

In other countries like Ireland, for the approval of the EU treaties a popular referendum is required. In the UK, we trust, naively, the solidity and transparency of our national parliamentary system.

People who think that our lack of democracy in the UK comes from being part of the EU do not understand where the problem stems from. Someone said to me recently:

“We (the British) are the architects of democracy”.

I said to myself:

“I can’t see the architects of this fine building in need of serious refurbishment around. They must be dead by the age of the construction. This guy has not ever heard of Private Eye”.

We are at the heart of Europe. That is an economic, social, historical, cultural and political fact that we cannot hide under the carpet by detaching ourselves from the EU. We are no Switzerland or Norway. We are the second largest member of the Union. It is true that we need to build a better EU, but that only can be done from the inside, not by leaving.

And what about our sovereignty?

In order to have a better national democracy and a more effective control of our UK affairs the first thing we need to do is to vote for Remain and don’t distract our attention with painful and economically uncertain renegotiations of trade treaties, which could take many years, and huge internal changes to our EU laws, which frankly, are there for a reason (protecting the environment, consumers, workers…) and do not prevent us from improving our national democracy at all.

This EU referendum is not part of a plan to improve the way the UK political system works. The Tories and UKIP, promoters of this plebiscite, have no intention to hold any more referendums on other matters. If anything, sadly, this “democratic” referendum experience may put people off direct democracy, and democracy altoghether.

Bear in mind that it is very difficult to make an informed and rational decision in complex issues such as leaving the EU in such a short period of time. One thing is voting for your MP, who you can meet and like or dislike. Another is being asked to make a one-off, one-in-a-life-time decision which would test anyone’s combined critical understanding of History, Economics, Politics, Business, Human Geography and Law, all in a UK, European and international context.

The vast majority of people in this country are not used to research, debate and decide anything political. We are only expected to vote every 5 years in the General Elections. Only a tiny minority of people are actively involved in political campaigning and debate. The percentages of participation in the General Elections are not impressive. Around 40% of people don’t bother. In the case of local elections and the referendum on proportional representation (2011) the levels of engagement are simply a shame in our UK political system (around 25% vote in local elections). We live, like in most other Western countries, in a very “laid back democracy”.

For those who believe in democracy, here is our priority:

We must tackle apathy, our democratic institutions need to connect with people, we need to build a better democratic fabric in society, with more direct democracy on issues we can and should have a say like education, jobs, health or transport. Let people take more responsibility on more manageable, tangible, local and national, matters.

Interestingly, progressive popular empowerment is the only way to have UK Governments that have the strength, legitimacy and honesty to defend our interests in Brussels, within the EU, in coordination with other democratic governments and movements of other EU countries.

The last thing we need is a ToryKIP Government, fired up by Brexit, that runs away from the top tables in the World and turns its back on their own people and on the rest of our allies and friends in Europe.

Democracy in the UK is possible, Another Europe is Possible, but only if we vote Remain.

If you love this country and its people, as I do, (not necessarily its political system), don’t vote Leave.

Beautiful England

“wert thou the unicorn, pride and wrath would confound thee and make thine own self the conquest of thy fury” W. Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, Act 4, scene 3, c. line 341

Oh Beautiful England,

Green maid
Longed for
By warriors
And nomads
And traders
And workers
And dreamers
From Abroad,

Whose Children,

Sometimes blond
Often not,

Have turned you
Into a mirror,

Into a mirror
Of the World,

Tell your sister,
The other England,
Who still believes St George
Was from Windsor
Or Newcastle
Or St Albans
Or Stoke,

Tell her,
For our peace of mind,
Tell her
Who her real parents were.

Tell her
That it’s millions,
Many millions,
Of all tongues,
Who make you
Very fertile,
Who balance
All her books.

Tell her
To stop drinking
Gin and tonic and Pimm’s.
Tell her
To sober up to reality
Tell her

To embrace
Her Foreign Kith and Kin.

Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

Painting: Happy unicorn and a naked virgin. Rothschild Canticles. Flanders 14th century. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, MS 404, fol. 51r from  by Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516). Source: https://uk.pinterest.com/elenakarasiova/

 

Anochece que no es poco en Brexit

Day 2 in the Brexit House. Los medios y los televidentes hemos disfrutado de lo lindo. Seguro que los políticos no tanto.

 

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Boris Johnson, alcalde conservador de Londres, se ha convertido en todo un símbolo del brexismo. La naturalidad exultante de sus ademanes de niño rico travieso que se ha comido la caja de bombones a veces juega a su favor, a veces en su contra. Hoy las cámaras de todos los telediarios le han encontrado a Boris su lado rebelde: A la entrada de Westminster, los periodistas le atosigaban mientras él respondía con chascarrillos. Con su anorak, su bici, su mochila y su gorro del Metro de Londres, Boris se perfilaba tras las lentes mojadas de las cámaras que lo perseguían como un personaje atormentado. Sus tribulaciones: haber roto aún más su partido, enfrentarse a su amigo de la juventud David Cameron, ser acusado de egocéntrico que usa su postura poppulista para promoverse como sucesor de Cameron y haber contribuido al batacazo de la libra esterlina, que hoy alcanzó su mínimo de los últimos 7 años frente al dólar.

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Ya los asientos del Parlamento, desde un rincón del gallinero, rodeado de caras expectantes, lanzó su única pregunta al Primer Ministro, su amigo David Cameron, sobre la soberanía británica.

 

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En los labios del adolescente enfadado Boris se leyó muy claramente la palabra “rubbish” (basura) tras escuchar la respuesta.

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David Cameron ha sido la antítesis de Boris Johnson: nítido, bien peinado, elocuente, preparado para esta gran ocasión de Estado y hasta sarcástico, en su justa medida. Normalmente gris y sin filo, el Primer Ministro se crece ante la dificultad y puede brillar en su oratoria cuando realmente hace falta.

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También ha estado muy bien el líder de la Oposición, el laborista Jeremy Corbyn, que ha recordado que lo importante de Europa no es el acuerdo alcanzado por David Cameron, sino su potencial como espacio de cooperación y comercio. Ha reconocido la necesidad de mejorar la Unión, para que este al servicio de la gente. A pesar de la grosería de un diputado conservador que lo ha interrumpido, Corbyn ha estado a la altura de Cameron y ha demostrado sentido de Estado sin abandonar sus principios socialistas. Todo un ejemplo en Europa.

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Por último, la entrevista del genial Jon Snow, de Channel 4, en las afueras del Parlamento, a la Secretaria de Estado de Empresas, Anna Soubry, y a Nigel Farage, el polémico líder del partido brexista y anti-inmigración UKIP. Un cínico desaprensivo disfrazado de tío majo. Se me antojaba un duelo entre iguales, pero Soubry le ha dado un repaso bastante completo a Nigel Farage, cuyo machismo simpaticón de terciopelo no le funciona con mujeres hábiles. Soubry, con una astucia cautivadora, ha sabido plantear muy bien la entrevista y  ha dejado a Farage sin argumentos, hasta el punto de forzarlo a decir que ni siquiera quería para Gran Bretaña un estatus de Estado asociado con la UE como el que tienen Noruega y Suiza, que forman parte del Área Económica Europea. “Entonces ¿con quién estaremos aliados en Europa?”, preguntaba la Secretaria de Estado. “Con nadie. Nosotros solos. Independientes”, respondía Farage humillado. La mirada de Soubry merecería un párrafo aparte.

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Y es que la principal baza de los Unionistas, o “Remainers” (de “remain”, quedarse), es que la salida abriría un periodo de dos años de gran incertidumbre tras el cual se consumaría la separación y que nadie en absoluto puede predecir con un mínimo de rigor lo que sucedería con las exportaciones británicas, con la copiosa inversión exterior que recibe y en general con su situación geopolítica. Es muy triste que se tenga que polarizar la campaña entre los dos bandos conservadores: el de los nacionalistas románticos desinformados, que se creen que Gran Bretaña es la Hija de la Polla Roja y que serán de nuevo un imperio, como dice la canción de los Nikkis, y los pragmáticos civilizados que apelan a la incertidumbre económica para que nada, o muy poco, cambie en política. Hace falta ilusión por Europa, por una nueva Europa.

En fin, afortunadamente no es Brexit todo lo que reluce, más bien al contrario.