Verse

Eireaennach

A place I lost I scarcely knew, The childhood land I never outgrew, My father’s life, my mother’s tales Of hungers, wars, workhouses, jails, The memories not quite my own To which my memories are sewn: Inextricably in Erin’s net, I am what I refuse to forget.

"Active class struggle is central to anti-racist struggle"

The Repeat Beat Poet is a hip hop and spoken word artist, broadcaster and activist. He talked with Janine Booth from Solidarity; the whole conversation is online here. On recent events in the USA: There are shamefully still regularly extrajudicial killings of Black people in the US and across the world, but because of lockdown, the killing [of George Floyd] is a moment of vindication for a lot of activists. The protests are vital in achieving concessions from the oppressive system we’re living in, and show mobilised oppressed peoples how they can bring themselves together and collectivise...

Review: First aid for the spirit

CoronaVerses: poems from the pandemic (see here) is a rapidly pulled together collection in a rapidly changing world. Collected over the course of a week after Janine Booth set up a CoronaVerses Facebook group, it was collated and released in just over a fortnight. In a socially-distanced world this act of creating space for the looser, deeper observation poetry and other creative arts can make to our understanding of our present situation is important. If, like me, your eyes have been glued to the news, this book is a good opportunity to step back and think in a different way. The collection...

Simple, but potent

I continue to enjoy Janine Booth’s poetry for its humanity. Her latest collection Fighting Tories: The Force Awakens (order online, £5, here) develops compelling political ideas out of personal experiences and observations. Janine is good at moving from the specific to the abstract and can make a political point without losing her audience or becoming too didactic. This Place is a great example. Drawing on Janine’s visits to one of her sons in hospital, it is both moving on a personal level and an understated but blistering attack on the lack of support over-stretched councils and the NHS are...

Union to boycott high-stake school tests; "Stand up for what's right"

On 15 April, the first day of the National Education Union (NEU) conference, delegates voted to ballot primary members for a boycott of all high stakes summative testing, including Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs and the phonics tests. An (electronic) consultative ballot will run from 4 June to 12 July or later. Disaggregated “real” ballots will follow at the end of 2019, in areas and schools where there has been sufficient response to the consultative ballot, and will conclude in January 2020. This was the fourth successive years that supporters of a boycott had put such a motion. They had responded...

Haggling over the price of life

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved two new medications which will help women with advanced breast cancer. Ribociclib and palbociclib have been welcomed as “breakthrough”medicines which can prolong life and give women more time without chemotherapy. Both are suitable for post-menopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive (HR+/HER2-) breast cancer which is locally advanced or is spreading. Both are taken as a daily tablet, and are used in conjunction with an aromatase inhibitor such as Letrozole. Currently, 85% of women with this type of cancer do not...

Poet poisoned by Pinochet

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda may have been murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship. Recent autopsies suggest that the death of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in 1973 was possibly caused by poisoning. This should surprise no one even moderately acquainted with the dictatorship of General Pinochet. Neruda, arguably South America’s greatest poet and a staunch champion of the oppressed, was admitted to hospital at the time of Pinochet’s military coup which overthrew the left social-democratic government of Salvador Allende elected in 1971. Twelve days later Neruda died of a heart attack – at least that...

'One Hundred Years': Steve Bloom's poem on the centenary of the Russian Revolution

Today, Workers' Liberty joins with websites Steve Bloom Poetry, Old and New Project, Links (Australia), International Viewpoint, Ecosocialist Horizons, Lalit (Mauritius), Radical Socialist (India), Socialist Party (Sweden), Spirit Child, Jozi Book Fair (South Africa), Janine Booth, Marxist Study Group (Namibia) and Solidarity (USA) in simultaneously publishing Steve Bloom's epic poem in celebration of the centenary of the Russian Revolution. 'One Hundred Years'. The poem is attached here as a PDF. Steve's poem walks us through revolutionary Russia, not with a dull chronology of facts but with...

Grenfell

Bring help Bring fire engines Bring water Bring air Bring stretchers Bring ambulances Bring us round from sleep and out to safety Bring food Bring clothes Bring blankets Bring camp beds Bring phone chargers so we can find our friends and family And tell them that we made it Bring shoulders to cry on Bring arms to embrace Bring ears to listen Bring hands to hold Bring the strength to go on Bring news Bring hope Bring solidarity Bring community Bring what you can Bring yourself Bring questions Demand answers Bring the letters written and the warnings given And bring the inadequate replies Bring...

Take Back Control

Janine Booth’s pick of news-related poetry is this by Attila the Stockbroker. You tell me how you’ve suffered since the closure. I see the pain and sadness in your eyes. I feel your anger at our country’s leaders Who offer only platitudes and lies. At gigs I hear so many of these stories. All different, but the message is the same. You’re sick to death of scheming politicians. No longer going to play their poxy game. The referendum was your chance. You took it. They told you we’d be taking back control. Control of jobs and factories and borders: A revolution wrapped up in a poll. The EU is a...

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