WHEN PEOPLE DISAGREE

 

When people disagree, we communicate

We can use words

Or we can use weapons

Adjectives and nouns

Or missiles and bullets

How do you communicate?

 

Words can be happy, sad, nasty, nice, or neutral

They can be said in anger or in love

But weapons are always bad

How do you communicate?

 

When I wear a white poppy

I communicate,

Peace

 

 

[This poem was inspired by the nice people who attended the Peace Pledge Union Alternative Remembrance Day event in London in 2016.]

 

 

The Gael

 

Thanks to Annie Rutherford of Far Off Places magazine for using this poem in the first issue.

 

I am a Selchie walking from the sea

Dry land in sight, but it doesn’t much appeal to me

Taking off my Selchie skin,

Talking in a stranger’s tongue,

Trying to be “at home”,

In someone else’s world

 

I curse the moon, as it cursed me

I need the sea – cold, and deep, and salty-

To cover me

 

If I ever find my skin again…

Under the broken clouds,

I will lie upon the hard, sharp rocks,

Then dive into the

Crashing waves,

And be alive again

 

To be amongst my own kind,

In a world I know,

And love

AFTERWARDS

 

And yes, afterwards

Perhaps there shall be what the humans once called, “Weeds”

Yet pretty in the ruins

Green urgent shoots, they do not know they were once called, “Ugly”

There may one day be trees

All over the World, surviving

Covering the scars. Giving out oxygen for what remains.

So much lives on through the radiation

Yet still, many species have been cruelly mutated

But lichens? Yes, beautiful lichens will survive,

Afterwards

 

The United States of America, Lecanora, The United Kingdom, Lepraria, Israel, Xanthoria, Russia, Parmelia, France, Physcia, China, Hypogymnia

 

The unquestioning masses are silent now for ever. No longer worried by doubts.

The believers are in their heaven – if it exists

And the Politicians have fought their war to the best of their abilities

But, the cost

 

I am not a heroine

 

 

Written after hearing a speaker (who was visiting Glasgow) from,

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour

http://sacom.hk

 

 

In China we don’t have heroines,

So I know that I am not a heroine

I carry all the shopping on my own,

But so little pay means there’s not much to carry

And yes, I don’t have time to meet new friends

So my workmates are my friends.

The machine is not my friend,

It is my enemy. It wears me out. It cuts me

So many accidents when:

You work so hard

Work so long

Work so fast

And aren’t trained

I am not a heroine!

I do though suffer when I speak up for my fellow workers

The Bosses all hate me

When I try to organise strikes, then the Police hate me. They take the Bosses side

If anyone is a heroine, it is the Human Rights lawyer

But she is in jail

We are not allowed to have heroines,

In China

My friend the Octopus

 

 

I will never write a haiku about you,

For I will never truly know you

 

I don’t know what thoughts pass through your head,

But I know that you are intelligent and love games

That your memory is good

 

Some people say that you are ugly and strange. But to me, well…

In your own particular way,

Sometimes,

Like when you are

Covered in flashing colours,

All over your body

And I watch entranced the pulses of light

The changes in texture,

You are beautiful

 

Too beautiful to eat or experiment on

 

Many find it hard, to empathise with you

Yet your Pain for it to work

Must be the same urgent vital thing that humans feel

And fear

How to write an animal rights poem

This has just been posted on the website of Animal People Forum. Thanks to them for using it:

The Saboteur’s Guide to Foxhunting Horn and Voice Calls

The Beast, and how to write an animal rights poem

The first adult poems I wrote were animal rights poems. However I could find no animal rights group that was interested in them. Even when I became better known as an animal rights activist and as a poet, I still found no interest from animal rights groups in them using my poems at events and demonstrations. I think that poetry is a very useful tool at events and demonstrations. And you need to use every tool you can!

I have also found that there are few poems that deal sensibly with animal rights and that are superb. This is disappointing.

Many people who start writing poetry begin by detailing all the horrors of something they know about e.g the death of a friend. Or the blood coming from an animal’s wounds. But unless the poem deals with the subject in a novel way or one that has true poetic style and content, it may be useful as catharsis but it is a waste of a poem. Ask yourself who is my audience? Many poems are ok to read to other animal rights people but a bit strong for those non-animal rights people in the audience. I cannot read a lot of animal rights poetry because it is so bloody. Less is usually better than more.

Whenever you write a poem it should be as good as you can get it. It is as if, this is the poem that you will be remembered for. Inscribed on your gravestone. As if you only ever write one poem. Every word and phrase in a poem is vital. There is no filling in poetry. Try saying something new or something said in a new way. Metaphors are one of the most used (and most useful) tools in poetry. You learn about writing poetry by writing poetry but you need to be critical of your writings.

Read a lot of poetry. Read different styles of poetry.

One tool I use a lot is contrasting different views of the same situation e.g. that of hunter and hunted.

I use truth. That means that I also use a lot of things I personally know well. Write about what you know, and if you don’t know about something then research it.

I believe that everyone in today’s World has to do research to find out what is happening. As an animal rights person you will already know how animals are treated in labs and in slaughterhouses. They do not die easily. The truth is a stranger to many newspapers.

I enjoy researching and finding out the Truth about things. I used to do research for a Scottish anti-vivisection group. I spend weeks researching everything I need to know about or write about. I read books and don’t take my truths from the internet. Be an expert in what you talk about (if you can).

In the past I was a Hunt Sab tactics officer. In my younger days I wrote the beginner’s guides to tactics that the Hunt Saboteurs Association gave out to new members. I sabbed again only a few years ago.

The Hunt use one rough language to order the hounds about (used by the Whip). Another encouraging language is used by the Huntsman. A third language (often expressed in horn calls that can carry far) pass on messages to Hunt followers e.g. “we are going to another wood” (this call is known as Blowing Away). If you can learn these languages you can “talk” to the hounds and take command. You can also know when the Hunt are moving to a new wood.

You can find many web sites that allow you to listen to the sounds of a fox hunting horn. My own horn is worth about £250 because of its silver tip. It is a Quorn Foxhunting horn. It is slightly bent (because a hunt follower tried to strangle me with the horn and the cord it was attached too).

I also have notes I made up on Sabbing tactics for a Fox Hunt. These also deal with voice and horn calls if anyone is interested? Sabbing should be an activity that shows respect for the Fox, fellow Saboteurs, for the environment. And lastly, for the Hunt and Hunt followers.

In the poem I use Hunt language and hunting dogs are called Hounds. Any hunting dogs are counted in two’s e.g. 20 dogs is 10 couple.

The poem The Beast obviously deals with the Huntsman (and the Hunt) as the Beast and not the Fox. The fox is seen as an individual with emotions and feelings. A creature that can feel fear and pain. As I said, I use truth a lot and I use stories a lot. The poem was written after reading in a hunt magazine about a Hunt follower asking for Hunting with Hounds to continue because: “there are so many wonderful poems about the beauty of the hunt”. The poem is an argument against that belief.

I wanted to make the Fox the hero of a heroic style poem.

I decided to use the language of heroic poetry and wrote in a style alike to Anglo Saxon alliterative verse. Many alliterative hunting poems are written in a heroic style. I didn’t try to copy things exactly (from Anglo Saxon verse). But you can see that the lines above are split into two halves. If you want to try to write in this style, then:

Read lots of Anglo Saxon poetry. Listen to exerts on the web. Read books about how to write that type of poem. There are also basic guides on the web e.g. http://oureverydaylife.com/write-anglo-saxon-style-poem-19908.html

And:

http://alliteration.net/field15.htm

Perform your poem at poetry nights. Send it into this site. And try out the site below which is excellent for those wanting a home for their poetry and prose:

http://deepundergroundpoetry.com/

Read and re-read your poem. Read it aloud. Read it at poetry nights. There are some that are welcoming for newcomers. Every poet started out as a beginner. And use it at Demonstrations. Most of my animal rights poems are demonstration friendly. I am glad for others to use my poems at events if they mention the author (me) and the event does not exploit animals or humans.

Work hard at crafting your work of poetry. A poem is a unique and beautiful thing.

Me performing the poem (I am not good enough now to use the horn though):

 

 

 

The Beast

 

I recently read in some magazine, a Hunt follower asking for Hunting with Hounds to continue because: “there are so many wonderful poems about the beauty of the hunt”. His idea of Nature and my idea of Nature are different. As is his idea of Poetry and my idea of Poetry.

 

Eleu-in, Eleu-in, Eleu-in. Eleu-in, Eleu-in, Eleu-in there. Edawick, Edawick, Edawick. Hike, Hike, Hike. Hike to Govenor. Hike, Hike, Hike. Hike, Hike, Hike to Govenor.

[All commands to hounds in this poem are shouted, coarse, and said with venom.]

Some single and double notes blown on the horn [interspersed with the voice calls]

 

 

Cry of the Huntsman, heard on the cold wind

Call of the lead hounds, angry and loud

Horn sounds ever nearer, nowhere to run

Humans are coming, it is me that they seek

 

Enjoying the view, valleys and hills,

Exultant their screams as I break from my wood

Poet’s pleasure at the sunset, stealing the light

Pressing me hard, hounds laugh at my plight

 

Weeeeeeuuuuughhhhhhh          [a holloa]

Weeeeeeuuuuughhhhhhh                       [a holloa]

Tally-Ho o-ver!                                  [finger points to “fox”]

“Blowing Away” blown on the horn.

 

Do I run, do I turn, try hard to fight?

Death follows so near, biting the air

Twelve and a half couple, cowards every one!

Tell my tale through the long night, the one fight I lost

 

Bury my bones, beside the quick stream

Begin the mourning, tell my wife that I died

Gather my friends, and tell of my brave deeds

Go forth and sing, the song of my life

 

Running through leaves, littered with mud

Rail tracks and road, slowly pass by

Turn round and face them, the leaders charge in

Twisting and biting, they tear at my guts….

 

Rip im and eat im!

Rip im and eat im!

Rip im and eat im!

Whoop. Whoop. Whoop.

“The Kill” blown on the horn.

THE MULTI-VOICE POETRY CHALLENGE

 

many voices001

many voices002

many voices003

many voices004

many voices005

many voices006

many voices007

 

Please try out something new for your next human rights event: just give a credit to the author (me) and please do not use the poem as part of an event that exploits animals or humans. Then perform this poem to rapturous crowds. Then post to you tube.

The words are on my multi-voice website: https://multivoicepoetry.wordpress.com/

 

Examples: Two versions of this multi-voice poem are given very different interpretations by the two different acting and poetry groups below.

 

 

Many Voices (a multi-voice poem)

 

Author Ashby McGowan

 

Performed by

Kelsey Amelotte,

Ainslie De Sousa,

Jamie Lester,

Zunaira Munir, and

Manon van Mil

 

of

Queen’s University, Faculty of Education

Kingston, ON, Canada,

 

 

Many Voices (a multi-voice poem)

 

Produced by Rachel Jury (Artistic Director conFAB)

Written by: Ashby McGowan

Acting Director: Iwona Glowinska

Film Director: Pete Hastie

Cast:

Ashby McGowan

Berta Cussó

Jessica Phillippi

Miriam Sarah Doren

Robert Przekwas