Tuesday 30 July 2013

Conversation With A Norwegian On A Mountain

Hei, er du nyter fjellet? Oh’ you English; I ask if you’re enjoying the mountains? It’s only three more hours to the top from here; I have my dreaming bag to sleep up there tonight, then another mountain tomorrow. The only thing that matters on a mountain is that you keep moving, remember me, seventy-two year old man who keeps moving. Ja, no pollution for the spirit where there are green and white waterfalls. I’m happy to find another person up here, I was just trying to figure out the worth of achieving something that no one will see. Sheep have been my best audience. You’ll remember me when you’re older though, especially if you can’t climb stairs by then. If you do get to see a forest like this, you’ll envy trees for making a place so beautiful just by existing together; you start to think like this when you outlive people you can only speak to in dreams. I don’t mean to talk sentiments, it’s just this air really opens you, makes me wonder how we breathe so closed up in our cities. Ja, must make movement, I want to be at the top so I can get into my dreaming bag, remember friends, stay adventurous.

Roads, Snow and grass.
By Water
Cloud Thumb
Lakes too
To read more conversations buy Shapes & Disfigurements from Amazon -

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Poetry Videos, Latitude Festival, Camp Bestival, Chill Pill & Scroobius Pip

This weekend I'll be performing a set of poems at Latitude Festival, my set time is Sunday at 1.20pm in The Poetry Arena. Come check it! - http://www.latitudefestival.com/line-up/artist/raymond-antrobus

Chill Pill are being hosted at Camp Bestival by Scroobius Pip on 1st - 4th August, which we're super excited about - http://www.campbestival.net/line-up/2013-line-up/chill-pill-in-the-satin-lizard-lounge/

Speaking of Scoobius Pip, he has a new Spoken Word video he asked me to share with you all.

Pianist, film maker and nudist Karim Kamar teamed up with poet Benjamin Hayes to deliver this rather moving poetry film.

Ben can be seen at the next Chill Pill at Soho Theatre on August 19th alongside Bristol poet Sally Jenkinson, Sarah Perry and topical singer-song writer YoB - see below

Sunday 14 July 2013

Skittles & George Zimmerman

Today I sat in my mums kitchen like a British boy with gaps in his history and teeth, trying to explain to my sister how a man shot a boy (armed with a packet of Skittles) dead in Florida and there is no law that called it murder. She looked at me confused, then I explained, the boy was black and the guy was white. This made it make sense to her. It's 2013 and this shit still makes sense? shame.

I started writing a poem about Skittles. How Skittles were invented in Britain in the 70's and were integrated into American society in the 80's. In 2012 skittles became the most "liked" candy brand on Facebook, the poem explained how America felt it had imported a rainbow. It's not an accurate poem because it doesn't reference the colour of the Skittle that was enslaved and demonised by arrogant westerners that call their countries "developed". 

As a culture we in the west are still trying to come to terms with a very complicated bloody and colonial history, it's a long dialogue that too many people don't want to engage with, that is why no one is tasting rainbows, because cases like this make sense only when the race of those involved is contextualised.

Below is an empathetic letter to George Zimmerman posted on facebook.    

Saturday 13 July 2013

Poem For Malala Yousafzai

Full Text http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-full-text-malala-yousafzai-delivers-defiant-riposte-to-taliban-militants-with-speech-to-the-un-general-assembly-8706606.html
Malala addressed the U.N on her 16th Birthday yesterday, her speech was beautiful. Here's an extract.

"We believe in the strength and power of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness." 

"Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution, education first"

Poem For Malala 

Imagine my death, 
every reminder of my assassination
would hurt the blood
in your ignorant hands.

I will make sound with all that blood -
noise the night, until the country
invents a new condition of weather, 
where clouds the shape of Pakistan
are not as high and out of reach 
as a girls education -

every woman under this sky will begin to rise -                      
my voice will shoot every bolt of my pain
to un-secret my death. 

When it rains it is the sound of my bones       

It is a loaded sky of grey, cold as your bullet in my face.
It is the dirt in the black ground growing teeth. 
It is re-learning that you took the life of books
and the life of me - a girl who just wanted school.
You should have kept the blood warm in my feet,
if you did not want me  to    carry   my     story
across the desert        the border      the ocean
as a book you cannot burn.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Chill Pill vs Bang Said The Gun - Write Up in The Telegraph (4/5 stars)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10168851/Chill-Pill-vs-Bang-Said-the-Gun-Soho-Theatre-review.html - 4/5 stars

In 1955, Allen Ginsberg challenged conventional writing styles with a reading of his poem Howl at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. From John Cooper Clarke to Gill Scott-Heron, performance poetry has since remained appreciated for its phonetic qualities as much as for its message.
In a small room on the third floor of the Soho Theatre, two of London’s biggest and most talked-about performance poetry nights — Bang Said the Gun and Chill Pill —­ put this into practice, as they came together in a battle to decide which event reigns supreme.
Forget your preconceptions about poetry readings: Bang Said the Gun is a raucous combination of poetry and comedy. It boasts an array of well-known names that have performed under its banner, including Phil Jupitus and Andrew Motion. Chill Pill, curated by Mr Gee, the host of Radio 4’s Bespoken Word and Rhyme and Reason, is its more laid back alternative.
The atmosphere was like a New Year’s Eve party or political rally. Upbeat music was provided by Mr Gee. Shakers, left on seats for the audience to use whenever they found something funny or inspiring, rattled throughout.
In one round, “The Headline Poem”, the performers wrote a poem inspired by that day’s newspaper headlines. The biggest crowd pleaser was the UK slam champion Adam Kammerling’s imagining of Tim Henman’s reaction to Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory. “It’s not about the win,” said Kammerling as Henman, “or the BBC’s overdramatic coverage. It’s that mount.”
The “Classic Corner” round saw performers pick up one of the poetry books scattered across the stage. Dan Cockrill reading of “To You” by Adrian Mitchell and Raymond Antrobus’s reading of “Aren’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth were rare moments of clarity.
Events such as these have heralded the growth of performance poetry in Britain over the past few years: more than 50,000 people have viewed Dean Atta’s poem “I am Nobody’s N-----” on YouTube; George the Poet performed at the Royal Albert Hall; Inua Ellams took his one-man play to the National; and in March this year, Carol Ann Duffy presented the Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry to Kate Tempest for “Brand New Ancients”, an hour-long “spoken story”, complete with orchestral backing.
The performance was funny, ridiculous and serious all at the same time. In the end, nobody won: the judges were as much part of the performance as the acts themselves. But what was most exciting was the uncertainty. Here is an art that remains fresh and undefined. And you can never be sure just what you’re going to get.

Friday 5 July 2013

On Sounding Intelligent - A Response To Classist Katie Hopkins

My name is Katie Hopkins, sounds intelligent right?

I know how to assess intelligence, no I don’t know what eugenics is!

I have never needed to empathise with marginalized people, I’m white and upper class, and ok, I’m a woman but I work extremely hard.

You assess intelligence by names.

If your son is called Wayne or Rio your families idea of "quality time"
is a sofa, a TV football game and a whole in season of drug, alcohol and domestic abuse.

That is not the kind of time you can collect and weave an honest £300,000 a year, that is hard polishing! what would someone named after a city know about that?

This doesn’t apply to the fact the father of my children is called Damien.

I’m Katie-pearl-wearing-Hopkins, 
I am held together by privilege, 
I am afraid of people that don’t have what I have 
because I assume that they want what I have, 
who wouldn’t want what I have? 
I am shining on my wrists and earlobes.

I am not interested in an all inclusive society because complicated social issues make me feel inadequate, they remind me that we do not live in a society that properly rewards its teachers, its nurses, its youth and social workers – you know, people who will never live up to my definition of success. 

Yes, I can imagine a girl called Cheyanne becoming a worthless nurse, or a Bricklaying boy called bobby, I mean who the hell wants to care for other people, build things for other people?

Not me, not my family, not anyone I choose to associate with – I don’t want to help people that can’t help themselves.

I want to be around people who understand my way of life, who understand that, I do not have time to educate myself about three dimensional human beings when I’m busy being a free-born capitalist.

Yes, everyone in the world ought to be assessed by the name that came to the mind of parents when they were pulled from their mothers, covered in blood and faeces. Being poor, uneducated, unemployed and living in a council estate, claiming benefits is a choice!

You see, our names are the labels that stick our noses above the poverty line.

YOU'RE FIRED! (by a man named Allen too)

Thursday 4 July 2013

The Importance Of Spoken Word (mentioned in The House Of Lords by Baroness 'Maggie Jones')

Source - http://www.labourlords.org.uk/talent-shows
In Picture above : Peter Kahn, Holy Family Students, Baroness Maggie Jones & Spoken Word educators (Raymond Antrobus, Dean Atta, Indigo WIlliams, Keith Jarrett, Pete The Temp & Cat Brogan)   

Maggie Jones on the importance of spoken word skills to help young people realise their aspirations.

One of the joys of being in Labour’s Education team is the chance to get out and about, visiting schools and being inspired by the enthusiasm of pupils and teachers alike.
Last week, I attended Holy Family School in Waltham Forest – a multi-cultural secondary school experimenting with writing and performing poetry as a means of nurturing confidence, creativity and self expression. The result was outstanding – a room full of articulate, funny, thoughtful young people excited about what they had, and could, achieve. Sitting in the audience I had no doubt that any employer would be impressed by the skills these young people had learned.

I will be raising the importance of such skills in a Lords debate on the importance of preparing young people for the world of work. We already know that the CBI and Federation of Small Businesses are desperate for young people to have better ‘soft’ skills such as communication, collaboration and problem solving. Yet the government is driving education in the opposite direction, with an obsession on cramming facts, working in isolation and sitting traditional exams. As part of this move spoken word skills have been removed from the English curriculum.

We have previously warned Ministers about the dangers of giving schools responsibility for careers advice without any resources or expertise, and it would be interesting to understand whether they – and indeed the Department for Education – believe the changes to have been consequence free. A recent report from the Commons Education Select Committee on this issue paints a horror story of poor training and advice, with teachers pressurising young people to stay on in the Sixth Form at all costs to improve the school budget. In response, the government said that careers provision was a matter for individual schools – something that the Chair of the Committee rightly described as an abdication of responsibility.

The result of such inaction from Ministers is reflected in a recent report from Pearson which discovered that over a third of young people relied on TV programmes to help them decide on careers, with and one in ten girls looking to celebrities for inspiration.

With a dwindling job market, we must give young people the best preparation available to have any chance of success. The Coalition’s failed economic policies have resulted in youth unemployment rates of over 20%, with more than a million not in education, employment or training. We can help by realigning their aspiration to the types of jobs that will be generated over the next two decades, many of which may not even exist today. Some of these jobs will be in the creative, innovation and high tech industries. But the CBI has also identified a critical lack of skills in the manufacturing, construction and engineering sectors – all of which could be drivers for future growth in the economy. Yet our education system is failing to address these new demands.

This is why Labour is putting renewed emphasis on the importance of vocational education to match the best academic provision, supported by quality apprenticeships. The new technical exam announced today is welcome, but it is a belated gesture towards something we have long argued for. And we will continue to criticise the government’s backward looking curriculum changes, which fail to meet young people’s aspirations and provide the gold standard skills needed to create a modern, thriving economy. It is the least we can do for those talented pupils I met at Holy Family School.

Baroness Maggie Jones of Whitchurch is a member of Labour’s Shadow Education team in the Lords

Published 4th July 2013

Bang Said The Gun VS Chill Pill (8th July at Soho Theatre)

Chill Pill clutching the Bang Throne behind enemy lines
Witness the coming together of two of London's finest poetry and Spoken Word nights. 

A celebratory Slam incorporating all your favourite elements from Chill Pill & Bang Said The Gun. The night will see all five poets from each night testing themselves at various word based disciplines. 

Will Chill Pill overdose? Will Bang shoot themselves in the foot? 

The teams:

Chill Pill
A laid-back club night where up-and-coming poets share the stage with some of the finest Spoken Word acts in the UK, is curated by Mr Gee (host of Radio 4’sBespoken Word and Rhyme and Reason), Raymond Antrobus, Deanna Rodger, Simon Mole and Adam Kammerling.

Bang Said the Gun
"stand up poetry" that’s "not pornography but still pretty good", curated by Daniel Cockrill, Rob Auton, Peter Hayhoe, Martin Galton and Sarah Redington. www.bangsaidthegun.com

BOOK £5 ADVANCE TICKETS HERE - http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/chill-pill/