Human Rights Poetry by Ashby McGowan
I write animal rights and human rights poetry. I also write environmental and nature poetry. My multi-voice poetry is on a linked WordPress site. This site will feature my solo voice human rights poetry.
All poems are copyright of Ashby McGowan. Anyone can use the poems on this site as long as they give me a credit at the performance and the event is not used to exploit humans or animals. I want to see other people perform my poems. And I want to set up multi-voice poetry groups around the World.
As well as writing human rights poetry, I have written a play which is an audience participation Peace Treaty. This has had a lot of praise and two showings of first scenes at human rights events. I am looking for a theatre group to perform it in its entirety. I have spent many years researching Peace treaties and I believe that actors and audiences would gain a lot by being part of an “actual” peace process. Email me if you are interested in this.
I am an animal rights and human rights activist. I also write plays and prose.
POETRY Over the last ten years I have occasionally written and performed poems for the Hidden City public events in Glasgow organised by confab (artistic director: Rachel Jury; phone: 07811 394 058; email: email@example.com; address: conFAB, PO Box 16888, Glasgow, G11 9EQ.) Funding has been from various sources (most often via Glasgow District Council).
For example: on Sunday 24th July, 2011: I was commissioned to write and perform two Poems as part of a conFAB event at the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow-performed at the Panopticon. These films are on the confab website.
During 2008, one of my Human Rights Poems was featured by the United Nations and they emailed it around the World to all their contacts (twice). Saliha Vinatier-Bouima of the U.N. said, “Thank you for your beautiful poem”. This was my poetic version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I have used this as an audience participation piece (with members of the audience doing every second verse). It has always proved a powerful piece for audience members to take part in.
My poem, A whirpool is not a circle appeared in Weyfarers issue 110 (June 2011). And a prose poem of mine (Cleansed) appeared in the Summer 2011issue of the Web based Journal, Gone Lawn. My first multi-voice Poem to be printed, Daybreak, was published (Autumn 2011) in the Print Journal Turbulence (Issue 7).
I am trying to find ways to get the ordinary public more interested in Poetry (and so have spoken on National Radio about my idea for Poetry Karaoke).
Video clips of my solo voice are on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVmSZbelaLI (My first conFAB event – which was in 2008)
And at Monosyllabic: http://vimeo.com/3775349
On the 23rd June 2012, I performed single voice poetry and multi-voice poetry (as a part in Chromatic Voices 2) during the Ripple Effect show at Govanhill Baths.
During October 2012, I had a poem that was also an art piece exhibited at the Museum of Religion: as part of a Seeds of Thought Exhibition.
The Gael (a poem) was published in Far Off Places Issue 1 in March 2013.
I performed two poems at a Suicide Prevention Day event at the Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow on the 10th September, 2013. Christine Tait wrote to me on behalf of the Celebration of Life Planning Group to say, “Your participation was a moving and inspirational contribution to the day”.
On 28th November 2013, the Poem Crow was published on e-zine Open Mouse (http://theopenmouse.wordpress.com)
Commissioned by Streetland to host a performance and talk about human rights poetry: as part of their Festival in Govanhill on June 7th, 2014.
Two poems (one of which is multi-voice) are accepted by the Newsboy Team for the Commonwealth event on the main stage at the Tron Theatre. On stage 25th July, 2014.
16th August 2014, One of my poems (Muraho) that was performed at Newsboy is shown at the Scottish Parliament Café. This is part of the Festival of Politics.
13th September, I was on the Bill at the Fundraiser for Palestine (and other human rights issues) organised by Colonel Mustard. Took place at the River Nightclub.
On 23rd October, 2014, I was at Aloud 7 at the Queen Margaret Union (at Glasgow University). [The recording is a bit dark]
5th November 2014, two poems performed at the Light Out Listening Group event at the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow. The link to them is: https://archive.org/details/LightsOutListeningGroup5thNovember2014 They are at 42.50 on a high quality recording.
On 20th November 2014 I performed at Aloud 8 at the Queen Margaret Union: Unfortunately some drunks decided to disrupt a poetry night and you can hear their shouts.
30th December 2014, performed seven poems as part of (the Charity Group) Philanthrobeats’ The Christmas Truce event. Held in the Flying Duck.
The Spring 2015 Issue (Issue 9) of Poet and Geek magazine used my poem, Leaf.
On Tuesday, 20th January, I performed my poem Gone Lawn as part of the Lights Out Listening Group https://archive.org/details/LightsOutListeningGroup 20thJanuary2015
The U.N. poem, Heart of Glasgow, and The politician’s truth were all used as part of, the Poems Against War event featured in my multi-voice site.
THE CORRUGATED ZINC ROOF
When he first came to the village, he was a stranger to us all,
But he soon became my friend, this man so thin and tall.
Often, under clouds full of rain we waited,
Till it battered down upon his roof, which was zinc and corrugated
Firecracker rain fell down from the sky,
But we sat there together, safe and dry
With just a few vegetables, he made soup that was tasty and good
I was just as poor as he, but on certain special days I would
Bring along some foreign beer, that smelt of yeast,
And while we laughed at the radio, we each had a feast
From village to village, we watched the smoke, and the rumours, spread
It was a fine evening when we left his house and fled
Ten miles to walk, to the town where his family stayed,
But, on either side of the road, dead bodies had been laid
We walked on in silence, on into the night
Till we came to a checkpoint, that was noisy and bright
My real friends where there, and their weapons dripped red
They came up to me, and one of them said,
“Is he one of us? One of our kind?”
I laughed, “I’ve brought you a Tutsi. Are you blind?”
And so it was that I came to own this fine zinc roof
What? You would have done the same.
The Politician’s Truth
I read somewhere that our Politicians spoke the Truth about Iraq. If that is so, then that truth was but:
the fading memory
of a ghost that never came
seen through a dirty mirror
on a foggy,
THIS OLIVE TREE
Such a hardy tree, this olive tree
A fierce sun burning each living thing,
No rain for months,
Yet it survives,
Branches and trunk twisting in the hot air
Symbol of a people’s strength
Symbol of Peace,
In this chaos troubled World
Source of the sacred oil,
That blesses, that nourishes.
Look, where the trees all stand,
Scattered about the hillside
For a thousand years that grove,
Has withstood every invader
In the morning, they stole away the underground stream,
Tried to kill a people’s dream
At noon, they set fire to the branches,
But still the old gnarled trunk remained
In the evening, the bulldozer came
Deep roots are not strong enough to withstand,
A hate so fierce
Such a fragile tree, this olive tree
Lying broken, dead,
In the long cold night
A poem based on the UNITED NATIONS’
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
This Document was compiled in 1948 and in the Author’s (of this poem’s) opinion, is one of the most important Documents ever written. It has changed the world for the better. This poem was written for International Human Rights Day 2007 and is meant to inspire people to look at the original U.N. Document. Only the first twenty points are dealt with: to keep the poem of a size that is capable of remembering.
I wrote to the United Nations and they E-Mailed this Poem around the world (twice) as part of their 60th Anniversary Celebrations (for the Original Document.)
All humans born free, and equal in rights
So people can love, and people not fight
Let there be, no discrimination, throughout the human nation
Equal, so elation, and not cruel domination
No person or state, with gun or knife
Can take away your freedom, take away your life
Let no one be cursed by all of the pains
That come from Slavery, and are worn with its chains
Torture must never be used as a tool
For it is, inhuman, degrading and cruel
6, 7, 8
To each of you, I tell you true
That the Law must stand tall, beside each of you
No state should try to use might
To arrest or detain, without any right
All accused, every one and everywhere
Are entitled to a hearing, that is public and fair
All must be presumed innocent and clean
Until, by public trial, their guilt is plainly seen
Each letter you read, each word that you write,
Should all be kept private, for that is your right
In your own country, you can always stay
Or choose another, if that is your way
You can flee from violence, flee from hate
And find safe Asylum in another state
Your nationality is yours, forever to treasure
Or change it for another, as is your pleasure
Whatever your religion, marriage is your choice
Equal in rights, you both can rejoice
To own your property, that is quite fair
And if you have a partner, with them you can share
Your religion, your beliefs, are for you to decide
Your comfort and solace, a deep source of pride
No one can hold dominion
Over your freedom of opinion
In peaceful assembly you all may gather
Or stay apart, if you would rather
Don’t seek to Die
I have seen, as you now see it, the path ahead, looking endless, without hope
So I know how hard it can be, in life, just trying to cope,
Climbing a hill that forces you on to your knees,
No matter how hard it is, struggle on, please!
Look for goodness in each thing that you find
Find meaning in the day-to-day grind
For this world needs you,
And the things that you do
Don’t seek to die
Sometimes, facing the day ahead can seem like an impossible task
But there are friends out there, to walk with you, you just need to ask
There are gifts and abilities that you can find,
If you search deeply enough, within your own mind
I have stood where you now stand,
So I feel I can offer my hand,
Don’t seek to Die
Wrongs you have done,
But you’re not the only one
Try to do all you can to help those you once left in pain,
But, eventually, you must walk on, being cleansed by the rain
You feel have been let down, by a lover or friend,
Most of us will feel like that before our life’s end
Find things that you can do, and do them the best that you can
Reach out to each woman, give respect to each man
And please, don’t seek to die
You have so much to offer along the way
We need people like you in this world, so stay
You have your own unique way of seeing
You are alert to the suffering felt by each being
Your compassion should be seen as a cause of elation,
Not something to be punished by isolation
We are all Islands, it seems,
Separated by our own selfish dreams,
But, if you just think for a moment, you will agree with me:
Every Island is joined, each to the other, under the sea
Don’t seek to die
Things will not be better when you have, “gone away”
Your friends will be grieving through each night and each day
Find meaning somewhere: in doing good,
In Art, or religion, or even your food
Mostly, find meaning in what you do
And, whatever you do,
Don’t seek to die
HEART OF GLASGOW
19 ships go sailing
A sailing down the Clyde
And each shall catch its cargo
Dark cargo, deep inside
Look, all around, at Glasgow’s finest buildings
Built by its Merchants rich and grand
Their wealth came from the use of slaves
Whose blood nourished the land
19 ships go sailing
The slaves have work to do
Tobacco and sugar plantations
Need the strongest men, and women too
And an African sun
Still shines on us today
It illuminates our memories
And the things we do and say
19 planes go flying
To war torn Congo, far away
To steal minerals for our mobile phones
Such things happen-every day!