New video directed by Evan Jones for No Borders From The Sky (Patrick Jones and John Robb) from the album Renegade Psalms out now on Louder Than War Records
Small Revolutions/Chwyldroadau Bach Reading Tour
Dedicated to my father, John Allen Jones, who first planted the seed of The Chartists into my soul
From “A song For May”
‘People, rise! and arm thee well!
Hope, that care cannot dispel,
Self-reliance, firmly wrought,
Wisdom by Experience taught,
Thrift and order, courage true,
These are arms to lead us through!
Wield them now—as you would thrive!—
Onward! 'tis the time to strive!’
From a recent number of the Court journal we learn that
the Queen, in consideration of the sufferings of her
starving subjects, has been "graciously pleased" that the
crumbs of bread from the Royal tables should be given to
the Poor, instead of being thrown into the dust-bin.
Ernest Jones, chartist poet 1842
As part of The Newport Rising Festival 2019 , commemorating 180 years since the Chartist Uprising of 1839 whilst bearing witness to 2019 with the release of a new poetry album ‘Renegade Psalms’ with Membranes’ frontman John Robb , I am setting out on a journey to find out what people will stand up for today.
An evening of spoken word. Ideas. Debate. Protest.
Special guest performers at each reading plus open mic.
Come and have your say in creating a People’s Charter for today.
Pay what you can afford
“Thoughtful, provocative and challenging, these poems engage and enrage"
“Very strong stuff” Harold Pinter
twitter ; heretic101
Special guests include performances/talks by Eric Ngalle Charles, Lucy Purrington, Jamie Bevan, Extinction Rebellion, Yes Cymru, Memet Ali Alabora and Julie Pritchard.
Workers Gallery Ynyshir October 3rd 7 pm
Swansea Fringe Festival The Bunkhouse October 5th 5.45 pm
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – ( The New Chartists) October 15th 730 pm (£5) with Memet Ali Alabora/Jamie Bevan
Gwent Archives Ebbw Vale October 23rd 5pm with Memet Ali Alabora and Julie Pritchard
Big Pit October Blaenavon Workingmen’s Hall 30th October 7 pm with Lucy Purrington
Newport Rising Festival The Westgate Hotel
Newport 1stNovember 7 pm with Eric Ngalle Charles
I am excited to announce that my new spoken word album Renegade Psalms will be released on September 13th 2019 through Louder Than War Records. It is my third album and features all music by The Membranes frontman John Robb. It is a document of our time and aims to bear witness to the issues that affect us as well as finding some hope and light in our common humanity. It also features a spoken word sample by my late great beautiful mother too. I will be doing a number of readings around it and linking in with The Newport Rising Festival . More to come……
I believe the creative arts, with particular emphasis on writing, can take us to a place of healing away from our pain. For example when we dance or paint or sing or play an instrument we travel to a different part of our mind, our heart our spirit. We forget where we have been and where we are going and simply be. As artists and/or practitioners we need to revisit our core beliefs of why we embarked upon our own creative journey. I often go back to why I started writing. Out of loneliness, heartbreak, despair , sadness and rage I found words or they found me. I also think back to those incendiary moments and how I felt. That is the key. Feeling. That first flush of pride of self discipline of creation when you have written a poem, painted a picture played a few chords can resonate forever and we need to be able to offer our participants that same excitement because it is the same for everyone. And from that flood of positivity arises a plethora of ripples- self confidence, warmth, solidarity with our fellow group members, satisfaction to actual chemical changes in the body as endorphins are released and lift the mood alongside neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine that play vital roles in balancing the body’s emotional functioning. These feelings can take us somewhere else and in the blizzard of mental pain these ‘other places’ can be vital in providing respite from the anxiety, fear and loneliness that our mental health struggles can cause.
I believe the arts can anchor our souls in a drifting world. Even when things are dislocated poetry, music, dance, painting can gently piece the fractures back together, if only for a moment.But that moment is all we have sometimes. Thus, we need to articulate these feelings - for ourselves and for others who may feel alone on their own journey. I am adding below a poem someone sent to me yesterday. I think it is beautiful and check out Sophie’s instagram and twitter pages as she documents her story. Below that I add a poem by Rumi which I often use in my workshops, The Guest House. So read these two poems and see what feelings they evoke. Thank you Sophie and Rumi.
This poem from the 12 century Persian poet can be a comfort to those experiencing distress. Its message is one of inclusivity. Of allowing all emotions/ moments into the mind no matter how tragic or difficult they may seem. We can cope with them he says. This can open up discussion about our worries and anxieties and by sharing we feel a burden lifted perhaps. Try to capture these maybe in a group poem with all contributing a worry and a coping strategy.
As we get older our defences are weakened we worry more end up fearing change or alteration which in turn affects our mental and physical well being. This poem, even though written over 800 years ago, comforts us in its message that whatever comes our way we should welcome . Particularly evocative for mental health struggles as Rumi openly invites depression, anxiety, fear, despair into his house.
We can survive. We can tolerate hurt and pain. Do not be afraid. It will be alright. A glorious message to offer to the reader. I use this poem as a trigger for the group to possibly explore their own ‘house’ and what we welcome into , what we have kept out and how we may furnish it. Perfect way into looking at metaphor and exploring, in very accessible terms, how we can take realistic life statements into a more poetic realm.
Also, you may want to explore it as a group piece whereby you have different rooms with different visions but all linked by the concept of the house or castle or hotel?
by Sophie Mullins
instagram ; RunsWritesCodes
I have run, gleefully, away
from my old body
whittled it down to muscle and sinew and, yes, bone.
I have tapped out a new rhythm, found a better way to live
powerful (still thin!). So much finer
choking on bread,
crying over calories -
so much better!
I have run, gleefully,
into the wild alone
touching fear in high hills
when the fog rolls in
at how fast my salvaged body can carry me
because the whole world is huge,
not shrivelled, dry.
No longer a bird in a cage
waiting to die.
I run at the sun with a dragonfly
Tap, tapping out a rhythm
this body amazes me
after all i have done
and carries me
into the sun
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
‘ You were born with wings. Why crawl through life”’ Rumi
To follow on from the previous post. That must not be the end. Those who use names, fists, gang mentality and silence to chip away at the souls of those they are ultimately threatened of would like it to be, but it is not.
It should not have to be that way but sadly it sometimes is and it is imperative we empower and listen to those in need of support, those affected by another’s perception of them. It is not the reality we must remember. It can, for a time, become the reality and the face teeth flesh hair we see in the mirror is distorted beyond what we can bear. We stare at ourselves but do not see our true selves. Our bodies, by way of our neural pathways, appear bloated, ugly, discoloured, too thin, too fat, too black, too white, too feminine, too male.
We become coated in another’s words, swallow another’s fiction, paint ourselves with another’s colours and it tarnishes our beautiful reality. Partners, peers, parents, so called friends, alongside society itself dig their claws into our very being and we lose sight of who and what we truly are.
But, but we must reclaim our bodies from those who would amputate our souls. Stare through the fog to truly see who we are. Not easy, especially during those fragile teen years and today’s digitised age adds another level of hell to fight against.
We need to talk to others, reach out to those who love and care for us. We need to find ourselves in books, songs, paintings, dances, instruments, clay and nature. When we are lonely and cut adrift reach for the musical medicine of our favourite song or poem. They will speak to us and help us find our voice again.
Then in turn we shall articulate our pain and struggle for others to read and digest and feel as Arthur Miller said of his wanting to write plays …’unalone’ . We must continue building the cycle of care, love, empathy and unaloneness. Reach out , reach in. Be.
We must not let the haters win. Remember , you, we, are not alone.
A House Called Tomorrow
Alberto Ríos, 1952
You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—
You are a hundred wild centuries
And fifteen, bringing with you
In every breath and in every step
Everyone who has come before you,
All the yous that you have been,
The mothers of your mother,
The fathers of your father.
If someone in your family tree was trouble,
A hundred were not:
The bad do not win—not finally,
No matter how loud they are.
We simply would not be here
If that were so.
You are made, fundamentally, from the good.
With this knowledge, you never march alone.
You are the breaking news of the century.
You are the good who has come forward
Through it all, even if so many days
Feel otherwise. But think:
When you as a child learned to speak,
It’s not that you didn’t know words—
It’s that, from the centuries, you knew so many,
And it’s hard to choose the words that will be your own.
From those centuries we human beings bring with us
The simple solutions and songs,
The river bridges and star charts and song harmonies
All in service to a simple idea:
That we can make a house called tomorrow.
What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day,
Is ourselves. And that’s all we need
To start. That’s everything we require to keep going.
Look back only for as long as you must,
Then go forward into the history you will make.
Be good, then better. Write books. Cure disease.
Make us proud. Make yourself proud.
And those who came before you? When you hear thunder,
Hear it as their applause.
I remember the day well. It was hot. Bright sun Children’s voices. Pontllanfraith outdoor swimming baths. Wet cubicles. Warm grass.I was 10. Fumbling to get changed. Excited at the prospect of cool water on skin. I remember leaving the safety of the changing room clutching my towel around me. Into the white sunlight.Already body conscious, though we didn’t name it as such in the 70’s I knew I had to get into that azure pool as quickly as possible. unnoticed.slip in. breath. Too late. Towel ripped off. Vultures circling. “Fat Pat, Fat Pat. Look look” I remember feeling as if every single eye turn to stare at me. Blubber. Pale. Teetering.In hindsight probably a few bored teens. But, but. Those few words used mostly as they rhymed easily ,stayed with me, branded into my forehead, followed me around like a lost dog. It wasn’t just the words, it was the power they gave to those who wanted to appear stronger, tougher, harder. More names followed like football chants bleating in my head announcing my arrival at every PE lesson every football changing room, every…every. Unbeknown to those few boys they had unleashed a would be poet for i began to invent revenge speeches in my head. Huge swathes of glorious eloquent put downs ending with a punch and I would walk off into the sunset . Neither materialised but I had begun to feel the latent brutal power of words.
It took me 12 years before I felt confident enough to take my top off in public again. And even now, as a 54 year old father of three, I relive those hot minutes slightly out of breath. As Wordsworth said, “Vertigo recollected in tranquility”. Maybe, maybe.
So in this week of Mental Health Awareness it is important we share our stories, our sadnesses, those scars that haunt but also those strategies of our overcoming those words of hope. More later……
TRACING THE BODY
the map of life lived
touch the skin
shelterer of souls
savaged and ravaged
ripped and wracked
opened and weaved
a casket, a cave
embroidered with blood and tears
I finger the scars
roads back to hope
paths to understanding
marks that warn
the soft shiny skin of then
grown over , wrapped up
healed and sealed
snapped yet somehow still intact
elbow frozen since 1979
spine slashed open
plastic disc cushions the blows
the surgeon's slice
above L4 L5
that saved your life;
trace those lines creaking
the angle of your neck
wear them with honour
I have lived
veneers and crowns
stitches in time
bandages, balms and cracks
read the poems
etched across your body
the sentence of sentences
the doingness of verbs
the thingness of your body parts
spoke and shall speak
the eloquence of screaming
startles the old
and inspires the young
tell it as it is
that, that shall be enough
an archived survival manual
resilient routes etched into existence
I place my pulse
over this persistent patchwork
it throbs like a sun adrift in a galaxy
In my role as Writer in Residence with The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales I will be blogging this week for MHAW and hope to share some poems, articles, videos, writing exercises and my own mental health journey . The theme for MHAW is body image- an issue more important than ever. So, to start off here is a fantastic poem by Lucille Clifton . A glorious body and life affirming poem.
homage to my hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
( for all the beautiful record shops now then an forever )
Flip, flip, pause, wait, flip, hold
With each flick of plastic
I transcend time
Transported to Martin Luther’s
Blackwood high Street circa 1981
He was the king of vinyl
Just to walk through town
With a plastic bag with the shop’s logo
Was a badge of coolness
An insignia of hipdom
If it did contain
Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry like the wolf’!
Flip, flip, pause, wait, flip, hold
My arthritic fingers
Suddenly nimble as I
Flip through the albums
As Sepia memories flicker
Time travelling in close grooves
I taste the titles
Finger the little squares of heaven
Like a naïve archaeologist I carefully dig
Discard the surrounding soil
To unearth the turntabled treasure
Black Sabbath ‘Live at Last’
In the bargain bin!
who needs the Dead Sea Scrolls
when you find this?
I like the order of the records
A-F Heavy Metal
Prog, Punk, Indie Ska
The neatness of band names
Half man half biscuit
Even splodgenessabounds ( though they should be stored in comedy not punk)
The immediacy of then
Comforting the now
Held to the light
Smiles in amber
Flip, flip, pause, wait, flip, hold
A road map to solace
When all else fails
It is that one song
Sending echoes through neural pathways
Lighting lost roads
With that soaring chord sequence
Framing that tragic love story
As Spandau listened to Marvin
Anthems of a blue,marooned ( not 5)
Suddenly finding their way home
In the museum of the misplaced
Tiny black grooves
Epic rainbowed veins
Arteries to resonance
Paths to glory
Highways to hell
Ragged 10 commandments
You create yours
To walk the line
Begin your day with the friendly voice
See kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
Fallen leaves in the night
I had no way of knowing
fallen leaves in the night
Isolation desolation incantation
I will still follow
it’s just a spring clean of the may queen
Even if there’s no future in england’s dreaming
So stuff your fucking army
Killing isn’t my idea of fun
We shall overcome
In the tunnel of love
With our bullshit detectors
and stay in our garage all night
Flip, flip, pause, wait, flip, hold
it has been a while since i have performed live due to various practical and emotional issues. I feel i am ready once again to get out there and share words. the time is right. x
Monday 25th March
live poets society
Cinema and Co
17 Castle St, near Castle Square, Swansea SA1 1J
an exciting evening of radical poetry organised by Tim Evans
TO BE OR NOT
(for Rajvi Glasbrook Carolyn Hitt Marjorie Sheen and Abbie Wightwick and all the children being denied the chance to study english/welsh literature at gcse level)
"you think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read."
not Duffy Shakespeare Taliesin or Angelou
because you, you see, are in set two
so those words are not for you
for we need to prepare you for the workplace situation
cvs letters forms and basic comprehension
to make you ready
for zero hour contracts minimum wage
and strict regimentation
no time for Miller Sassoon or Ishiguro
oh no those words are not for you
because you. boys and girls are in set two
no room for character motivation, metaphor or Barrett Browning’s sonnets
why so astonished?
think of this as a mind colonic
just dot the i’s and fill in the gaps
know your place know your class
you’ll be surprised how quickly each lesson passes
as expression only distracts
and we cannot afford any cracks
so learn by rote and memorize the facts
all we are concerned about is how you can make a profit
what is more important, a dream. or a full wallet?
even though ‘ english literature remains a statutory requirement in the curriculum’ *
don’t fill your heads with literary nonsense
what matters is the a-c grade performance
achieving the bare minimum,
we are in the age of officialdom
and anyway, ‘the welsh government has never placed a statutory requirement on schools to enter learners for specific qualifications’*
so it shall be literature for those who will pass it
and language for those who are dull
and in the selection of the brightest
all poetic aspiration is culled
no chance to escape the margins
no colours but the teacher’s red pen
where the sun is merely a noun
and writing’s just a means to an end
And what of love?
Of Walcott’s mirror
What of doves?
Of Niemoller’s horror?
And What of the compass to this land
Of Hedd Wyn’s Gogledd
And Davies’ Bells of Rhymney
What of the
Caneuon fy nghwlad ?
How to be yourself
Beat bullies, accept others
navigate the world with truth and empathy?
When you are trapped in classrooms outwardly benign
where the bookshelves
gather dust not spines
a place of cv’s and full stops
and the application forms await the primark sweatshops
and i think of my own dear mother
reading bed time stories to me
and all the dead poets ‘ blood
spilled in their eloquent lonely pleas
love imagination and humanity
as Lorca Sexton
Saro Wiwa Plath and Larkin
now circle in skies so lost
for they have no place to alight on
as all literary dreams lay quashed
except for those select few at the top
** the clock really is striking thirteen
and the pupils are asleep in what had once been the gymnasium
and april truly is the cruellest month
that was me.that is alex and my three droogs
we all learnt to love big brother
i now know why the caged bird sings, sings sings…. **
no Duffy Shakespeare Thomas Angelou or Wilde
for you boys and girls
as you are now in set five
we want you to exist and survive
not question and thrive
and those words
no matter how hard you try.
*extracts of an official letter from the office of education minister kirsty williams am
** based on the first and last words of life changing books and poems many pupils will now never read
1984 george orwell
the waste land t s eliot
the handmaid’s tale margaret atwood
caged bird maya angelou
clockwork orange anthony burgess
My response to Donald Trump and his executive orders -
'These don't look like children to me- We should do dental testing to certify the age of refugees'
David Davies MP
MAY THE SYRIAN SOIL
BENEATH YOUR FINGERS
FUSE WITH THE WELSH EARTH
TO MELD INTO A NEW GARDEN
MAY YOU TAKE REFUGE IN TRYFAN'S CRAGS
AND WANDER WILD UP PEN Y FAN
MAY YOUR BREAD RISE
WITH THE BLOWN BEACH WINDS OF OGMORE AND
MAY YOU BRING SUNSHINE TO OUR VINEYARDS
MAY THE TEIFI ELAN AND TAFF
BRING YOU HOME WHEN YOU ARE LOST
ON WINDING AFTERNOONS OF MIST
LET THE SLATE MOUNTAIN OF BLAENAU FESTINIOG
BUILD A ROOF TO PROTECT YOU
FROM THE NIGHTMARES OF YOUR PAST
LET THE DEEP RESERVOIRS MOAT
LET THE TONGUES OF BEVAN AND GLYNDWR
BE YOUR ADVOCATE AGAINST
THROATS OF FRENZY
LET CYNGHANEDD CHIME WITH ARABIC
TO FORGE OUR NEW LANGUAGE
MAY YOUR CHILDREN GROW LIKE THE
RINGS OF THE LANGERNYW YEW
SUTURED AND SECURED TO LAND
MAY YOU SPICE OUR LARDER WITH BAHARAT
FALAFEL AND FATTOUSH
AND LET US SHARE FOOD AT ARTHUR'S TABLE
SEEK SHELTER IN CARREG CENNEN'S SECRET TUNNEL
AND AWAKE AS A POET
FROM THE SLOW SLUMBERS OF CADAIR IDRIS'
DAWN DRENCHED SLOPES
ANDLET THE SALTED ARC
OF CARDIGAN BAY
SOOTHE THE SCARS OF YESTERDAY
ANDMAY YOU STAND UPON
THE ACHING ARCHES OF PUMLUNON
TO VIEW THIS TINY MASSIVE LAND
THE SEVERN, RHEIDOL AND WYE BIRTH THEIR JOURNEY
AND YOU TOO, CAN FLOW
MAY THE CRADLING ARMS OF THE CAMBRIANS
SNOWDON'S MIST SHAWL YOU
AND THE VALLEYS CWTCH YOU
AS 'NA THELYNBERSEINIOL FY NGWLAD'
(NOR SILENCED THE HARP OF MY COUNTRY)
IT NOW HAS A NEWSTRING
FROM AN END TO
A JUST BEGUN
WE ARE ALL TRANSPLANTED
BROUGHT BY THE BREEZE
FROM SEA TO SHORE
SETTLED ON FALLOW GROUND
GRATEFUL FOR THE SUNLIGHT
WAITING FOR THE RAIN
AND WHEN THEY TRY TO BURY US
WE DIG DEEP
CLING TO OUR PAST
ANDFROM THE LIVED PRESENT
INVENT OUR FUTURE
YOURS AND MINE
LET US CULTIVATE OAK AND OLIVE TREES
SIDE BY SIDE
Knowing the unknown
(For chelsea manning)
“I will only admit evidence of the chilling effects of Bradley Manning's actions have had on US diplomacy if those effectswere observed directly after the information was made public'
Judge Denise Lind
To tell the truth about atrocity
To provoke debate about honesty
How can that aid the enemy
To ask questions of military intervention
To instigate a mass mobilization
These facts existed
What changed was the public perception
And lest we forget in the tourniquet of instapatriotism
The acts of bush/blair and their shock and awe
Enough to endanger us interests at home and abroad?
Or numerous soldiers killing children and mothers
Raping women then lying for each other
The chilling effects of a bullet are more bullets more lies
The chilling effects of bombs are more bombs from more skies
The chilling effect war
The chilling effects of chelsea manning's actions
Like wilfred owen, siegfried sassoon and tim o' brien
Bearing witness to savagery and
Like the suffragettes
Freedom of information
And emancipation all she wanted
Yet chelsea manning
By her acts of responsible humanity
A whistleblower only asks questions
to what is civil in our civilization
holds the mirror up to society
The only chilling effect isknowledge and
Knowledge has its own destiny
And that does not aid the enemy