Tag Archives: writing

Pacifist?

(written after my course ended but still relevant to the course, so I have included it under the subject of American Writing in the menu,)

Recently I studied Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac and other beatnik poems. Ginsberg called himself a pacifist. I questioned this. I believe I have the same protesting spirit as Ginsberg and others, however I do not call myself a pacifist.

a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind. 2. a person whose personal belief in pacifism causes him or her to refuse being drafted into military service. Compare conscientious objector.

A passivist is something quite different. It means being submissive in nature, particularly in a sexual situation.

I am not sure which Allen Ginsberg was referring to, I don’t want to think about the second. I do believe he was a lover of peace, however was not a true pacifist in the sense of the word.

My words, writing my mind can be a weapon against an oppressive, corrupt or unjust government, rulers or laws. As a protest poet, I shoot my literary arrow deep into the hearts of leaders, and others who can make a difference, until their hearts bleed empathy. I do not stop until I wound. I am not to kill with my words (as a famous song does), but to heal. Where one was running into battle as an oppressor, he now limps away, with his heart changed and fights for the opposition to the oppressive.A-1678614-1321804331.jpeg

My words, my art and my photos are not meant to leave you comfortable if I am working on a social justice or human rights issue. They will not give you warm and fuzzy feelings. They are meant to make it feel like you are sitting on granite, something hard and uncomfortable enough to make you want to move.

 

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Just Don’t

Don’t touch me

Don’t Touch Me

DON’T TOUCH ME

Don’t look at me

Don’t Look at Me

DON’T LOOK AT ME

Don’t talk to me

Don’t Talk To Me

DON’T TALK TO ME

Don’t use endearing names. Call me nothing but the name I was given.

He is offensive, She is offensive, They doesn’t make sense when talking of one person, but that is preferred.

When I am sad, don’t hug me to comfort me. Let your shoulder to cry on only be metaphorical not actual.

When greeting me, don’t even think to kiss my cheek, don’t offer to shake a hand, it wont be accepted.

We live in a society when anything we do or say can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood. Best to do nothing, lest we offend…and get sued.

We are global citizens, superficially connected to many, but attached to nobody. Share the world, share the meme, share the joke, but don’t dare try to share my space.

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End of an Era

Here in Sydney, in an eclectic suburb called Newtown, There is an iconic second-hand bookshop that has entertained the masses with reading material, and provided students at nearby Sydney University with cheaper text books for over 50 years.

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It has come to my attention, and the attention of many more with the help of newspaper and radio media that this shop is going to close.  I was grieved to hear this, and so I went, to buy some books, and to get the real story.

The bookshop was one of many opened and run by Bob Gould, who was an activist during the 60’s who protested war and conscription. Bob died in 2011 after falling from a ladder in the bookshop while sorting books. It is at present run by one of his daughters, and staffed by dedicated staff that really have been there for years.

There are over 75,000 titles in their catalogue. Many of these titles have multiple copies. I would estimate over 100,000 books in this store. When I asked about a title, the attendant knew exactly where it was, called another attendant to go get it for me, and gave him a torch. This tore would not be out of place in a JK Rowling book. I can see some young witches lining up at the counter all seeking second hand copies of Spells and Incantations or something.20171102_153254

I went just to browse really, and managed to find some books by the author Orson Scott Card, who is a favorite science fiction writer. I also picked up two books by David Marr, on Patrick White, whom I just studied as part of my BA (lit). The books were very reasonably priced, and in good condition.

The Mural was commissioned by the government at the time, but was then rejected as too political. So Bob Gould bought it and it has had pride of place just inside the front door ever since. It has a kind of William Blake look about it to me. Does anyone else see that?20171102_153223

The good news is that this store is not closing. The rent has forced them out of Newtown but the owner are looking for a new premises in which to keep the legend of Gould’s alive. If anyone has such a premises that can hold all of these books, contact the owners. Then comes a team or people needed to move it all. I think I am going to be sick that week.

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Judith Wright Poems

Judith Wright was a poet with insights into indigenous people and nature. She told of patterns in life, and in Australia. She and Patrick White both saw patterns. I wonder if they would have got on well together, if anybody could indeed keep White as a friend.

In Five Senses, we see that all five senses are equally important. They create a rhythm, a pattern. Apart, sometimes we can not make sense of what we see, what we hear, or smell or feel. But together they dance. The senses working together create a pattern, which, when followed, can enhance a persons life, make them whole.

Like the world or community. When we are fragmented we are only a part of a whole, incomplete. Sure we can make our own music, but the symphony comes when all instruments work together, playing the same tune.

Judith says :”pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine”.  The pattern or Rhythm of life was there before, it was only now that Judith has recognised it for what it is. By saying “It is not mine” acknowledges that the Rhythm comes from outside the body, but is implanted within us, perhaps that Rhythm of life is from God.

Now my five senses
gather into a meaning
all acts, all presences;
and as a lily gathers
the elements together,
in me this dark and shining,
that stillness and that moving,
these shapes that spring from nothing,
become a rhythm that dances,
a pure design.

While I’m in my five senses
they send me spinning
all sounds and silences,
all shape and colour
as thread for that weaver,
whose web within me growing
follows beyond my knowing
some pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine.

 

Legend – Poem by Judith Wright

The blacksmith’s boy went out with a rifle
and a black dog running behind.
Cobwebs snatched at his feet,
rivers hindered him,
thorn branches caught at his eyes to make him blind
and the sky turned into an unlucky opal,
but he didn’t mind.
I can break branches, I can swim rivers, I can stare out
any spider I meet,
said he to his dog and his rifle.

The blacksmith’s boy went over the paddocks
with his old black hat on his head.
Mountains jumped in his way,
rocks rolled down on him,
and the old crow cried, You’ll soon be dead.
And the rain came down like mattocks.
But he only said,
I can climb mountains, I can dodge rocks, I can shoot an old crow any day,
and he went on over the paddocks.

When he came to the end of the day, the sun began falling,
Up came the night ready to swallow him,
like the barrel of a gun,
like an old black hat,
like a black dog hungry to follow him.
Then the pigeon, the magpie and the dove began wailing
and the grass lay down to pillow him.
His rifle broke, his hat blew away and his dog was gone and the sun was falling.

But in front of the night, the rainbow stood on the mountain,
just as his heart foretold.
He ran like a hare,
he climbed like a fox;
he caught it in his hands, the colours and the cold –
like a bar of ice, like the column of a fountain,
like a ring of gold.
The pigeon, the magpie and the dove flew up to stare,
and the grass stood up again on the mountain.

The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder
instead of his broken gun.
Lizards ran out to see, snakes made way for him,
and the rainbow shone as brightly as the sun.
All the world said, Nobody is braver, nobody is bolder,
nobody else has done
anything equal to it. He went home as easy as could be
with the swinging rainbow on his shoulder.

When I first read this poem, I thought that the Blacksmiths boy was perhaps a gay boy who knew that he could do anything he put his mind to. He could conquer everything put in his way. I got the idea that he was gay from the line “The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder”. However, the rainbow wasn’t adopted by the gay community until the late 70’s. Even though it is possible that this poem was written after that period, there is no proof of that. I thought that perhaps putting the rainbow on his shoulder, and the rainbow shone brightly was alluding to gay pride. But equally it could be talking about proud to be an aborigine, proud to be who you are and showing the world. The blacksmiths boy was a violent masculine boy, but he exchanged his gun for a rainbow and became peaceful. Perhaps we all need a little rainbow in our lives.Hmm perhaps this one will take further research and analysis.
Dave
footnote. When searching for an image to go with this poem, I found the one below It makes sense, even in the Judith Wright poem. I wonder if Wright was influenced by this quote by Dickens…definitely needs more research.
Image result for blacksmiths boy

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My Place

Image result for sally morgan

Go into any backyard in the old parts of Sydney, Blacktown in the west, Earlwood in the south, and Asquith in the north. You will find in these yards a lawn surrounded by a mix of natives and introduced species. But go to a derelict building, and the natives take over again, killing off all the introduced species. It Is the paspaplum and kangaroo grass that survives, growing high, through cracks and crevasses left in crumbling fibro houses. It’s the wattle and the bottlebrush that somehow survive or repropogate in the same spots year after year. These are plant that can be pruned, shaped to fit into a cultivated garden, to look pretty, to keep within the borders.

When the hard times come, it’s the natives that survive. When bushfire ravages the Royal National Park, or the Blue Mountains, It’s the Banksia plants that will come up first. The fire having popped all the seed pods, and the ash covered them into the soil. The Coastal Rosemaries grow up again, and we see new branches appearing from old stumps of the mighty Gum trees. The natives of Australia are resilient.

So too the native people of our land. We as westerners, colonisers, really gave the indigenous population a hard time, from the time we arrived and claimed the land to be ours, right to the present day.

My Place by Sally Morgan is a book that describes lives of indigenous people with the trials and tribulations, the hard times, and the funny ones too. She tells it first in first person narrative, but then switches to narrative after interviewing various characters, REAL PEOPLE, in her book.

Sally has been highlighting abuses and inequality in our country for over 30 years. It is because of Sally, and others like her, that indigenous people have felt comfortable to expose themselves for who they really are. Sally tells primarily indigenous people that they don’t have to be ashamed of who they are any more. If people around you are uncomfortable with that, STIFF, they can get out of the way, cause the natives are here to stay.

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What and incredible lesson for all of us to learn. No matter what culture you belong to, where you come from, it’s important to find out who you are, and be comfortable with who you are. Be ashamed no more.

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A poem after Ginsberg.

I have chosen this as my best  creative post for the subject American Literature. I have written freely, from my mind and heart. There are some things in this poem that have been burdening me for some time. Writing a “Ginsberesque” poem has allowed me to use my creative skills to vent a bit about those issues.

 

I had a thought, an idea, it was a poem waiting to be told, but had funny rhymes, a funny rhythm. Ginsberg and other beatnik poets have given my licence to write in their style. I said and subconsciously wrote. I digitally put pen to paper. I used the Ginsberg breath method. My breathing is erratic though, being an asthmatic. Read a sentence completely in one breath, then breathe after the sentence. That is important.  Enjoy the poem below, called:

The Hierarchy of Power

I wrote a letter to the queen and said hi, how have you been. He said fine, how are you. How am I, you ask? I will tell you how I am. I am disillusioned by the politicians of today the statesmen and leaders of the past, they seem to make rules and never obey, then they call us the fools. They think we don’t know what’s going on in their tiny minds having selfish thoughts, caring not for others but raising super and pensions for sitting members. We are doing such a good job saving the taxpayer millions we deserve to give the money saved to ourselves, and those who have come before, who nobody remembers.

Politicians make the hard decisions to send someone to their certain death, fighting wars that are none of our business, meddling in the affairs of states, who were doing just fine without us, or at least keeping the cruelty within a set of borders. Put up a fence! a wall! keep them out and keep us from seeing them at all. Ignorance is bliss. We don’t have to put up with this. They make the decision to raise the pensions of the elite while the hungry are still hungry, the poor poorer still and the sick die of disease. If the sick die there is less strain on the health system. If we move the homeless we can deny there is a problem. Statistics are manipulated, leaders are too. Donations to the party are used to campaign, not to benefit me or you.

Green is the colour of the grass anchored in one spot, restricted movements by fences and walls, plants and walls used to hide atrocities. Blue is the sky that rules over all, it is free to travel where it will. No restrictions placed on it; on the cruelty it can rain down upon the grass beneath. If grass is restricted all its life, it will forget how to grow. A mower is taken to it, those with aspirations and dreams are cut down. Don’t think like that, you can’t do it. Look at where you are. Once a grass behind the fence, grass you will always be. Never a daisy. Blue sky suppresses the green but is in turn governed by the suits of grey, with the red or blue ties, which are above us all, beyond being free, governing what is free. If you get too close to freedom the rules and boundaries will change. Unattainable, unreachable, dreams will remain dreams, there is nothing to gain.

Work your ass off in capitalist society, or even in the new rich communist socialist regimes. Everyone continues to have dreams. Own your own home, burden yourself with debt, be shackled to the desk for thirty years or more. When will you truly be free. THINGS ARE NOT WHERE ITS AT. Keep up with the Joneses? The Joneses are trying to keep up with you. You drive your flashy cars, live in your fancy houses. 2 cars in the driveway but nothing in the fridge. On the outside everything is new. The inside filled with preloved and now dumped stuff. Accumulation of junk, when is enough enough?

The good old days glitter with gold. Gold plate covers the rust underneath. Again, the outside sparkles but the inside is as rotten as your teeth. Dental care, health care, funeral costs. No-one can afford to live but you can’t afford to die either. How am I, you ask? I’m fine because…

 

Above all there is God. Beyond reach. Never changes. Looks down. Cries. I will make it right. Watch this space, coming soon.

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Allen Ginsberg:Transcendentalist?

I have chosen this work to be the best of my critical entries on this subject. I took a real interest in Ginsberg before he and his cohorts were discussed in class. I took an in-depth look at “Howl” and tried for myself to decipher some of the parts, and to give extra commentary on them. Alan Ginsberg is someone whom I would like to study further.

Warning: The videos, and some of the text may be considered obscene:

Image result for allen ginsbergAllen Ginsberg was a poet who bared his mind in the 1950’s. His poem Howl, made him famous, or infamous for it’s somewhat candid and sometimes obscene language and content.

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In Part II of Howl, Ginsberg equates capitalist society with the God Moloch, who was a God that the early Hebrews and others sacrificed their children.

“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” Ginsberg is saying here that cities, society has taken away any chance of those who inhabit them, of having imagination, of being able to think for themselves,

“Moloch, Moloch, Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasures! blind capitals! demonic industries!spectral nations! invincible madhouses!granite cocks! Monstorous bombs!” Everything is the same with houses, there is no imagination in design. These spaces are there not to be beautiful, but to have a purpose; to fit as many bodies in as little as space as possible. The treasures we build for ourselves and for our companies in this world of corporate greed, do not come without a cost, Many lives are lost, wasted with empty heads, empty brains unable to think for themselves. Invincible madhouses, are invincible because once someone is labelled as mad, that label follows them around, and nothing they say is taken serious from then on, People are defeated. Granite Cocks are the monolithic phallic symbols. Skyscrapers really are a phallic symbol, corporations saying, look how big and powerful am I. And Monstorous bombs refers to actual bombs, nuclear or otherwise that have the capability of destroying millions of lives in one push of a red button.

Why did Ginsberg call his poem Howl? A howl is defined as a mournful cry of perhaps a dog or other animal. Ginsberg may have thought himself a dog, but the emphasis should be placed on the sound, not what makes it. Howl is a mournful cry. Sometimes the cry is made in anger, sometimes in pain, but mostly in a sadness that eats you right to the bones. Ginsberg was expressing the sadness he feels when he think of the world that has lost it’s way. Of a world that has forgotten nature.

Ginsberg reflects on friends left behind, in particular, Carl Solomon, whom he met in a mental asylum and whom remained there as Ginsberg was released. He mentions over and again Rockland, which is a mental asylum but not the one in which Ginsberg met Solomon.

in Footnote, Ginsberg reflects on people and places and things which have influenced his life and his writing. He calls these “Holy”. To him, the people that Ginsberg met and received understanding from, and had an influence in his life, were sacred. People to be revered or idolised.

This is one work that deals with the emotions in such a diverse way. It is a spiritual moment. Once heard, one can never unhear the words in the poem. Once heard, this poem will surely affect your view on socialism, capitalism and what is important to you, and the world.

I have called Ginsberg a modern day transcendentalist. I think that is accurate. Here is a man who walks his own path, one less traveled. Here is a man who has rejected society and become the utter non-conformist. Here is a man who is self reliant, poor he may be but self reliant in terms of not accepting another’s thoughts or ideas without first discovering and telling his own.

Genius or madman? Don’t let me or anyone else sway your judgement. Make up your own mind. Its what a true transcendentalist would do.

 

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