ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Westminster - We are not afraid

I was sitting in Paris yesterday watching events unfold at home. It was hard to concentrate on the work I was supposed to be doing. I called my daughter to check she was nowhere near. Thankfully she was safely at home studying and not trying to change trains at Westminster, as she usually does twice daily.

I am deeply saddened that my city has been attacked yet again by a crazy person intent on causing chaos and mayhem. What is the point? Really? It is incomprehensible.

I am immensely proud of our security and emergency services, swift in response and ultra efficient. That should make us all feel as safe as it is possible to be.

My thoughts are with those who have been injured, and the families and friends of those killed.

If a blog post can be a minute's silence, consider this my mark of respect.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Vermeer at the Louvre

Small and perfectly formed, this is a truly lovely exhibition of umpteen Vermeers and contemporaries, thoughtfully hung by subject matter to facilitate comparisons.

Save yourself trips to London, the Netherlands and Germany etc., buy tickets and queue up for ages even though you have a ticket. Take a friend to talk to, or a good book.

Patience is certainly rewarded, but please be tall to see over everyone's head, or be prepared to wait for those gaps in the crowd and tour groups when you will have the Lacemaker and Milkmaid et al to yourself.

Enjoy these jewels while they shine in Paris and ask yourself why all the windows are on the left.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hidden Paris - Musee Bourdelle

If you are sloping around Montparnasse looking for a peaceful spot, go no further. This small museum, built around Bourdelle's atelier and adjoining buildings, has beautiful courtyard gardens packed with his sculptures, as well as large exhibition halls with the same, including plaster casts.

Bourdelle was a student of Rodin and there are some influences to be spotted, but mostly his work is massive, muscular, even the women, and substantial. If you like your bronzes this bold, you will enjoy this hugely.

It was encouraging to see students sketching on a sunny day. Oh, and it's free to visit, plus you may be greeted by the smiliest  and most welcoming museum staff in Paris.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate

If you only know Tillmans as the guy who made those eye-catching anti-Brexit posters last year, then this newly opened show till be a revelation of beautiful work.

He is a art photographer of some renown and his panoramic print have a lot in common with massive old master canvases. The African market scene is totally stunning. I was especially impressed by the abstracts made without the use of a camera.

The arrangement of the show is interesting, taking the eye up down and around the walls, but also annoying, as there are several places where small prints in the corner of rooms are practically unviewable due to the numbers of people in attendance, at least when we went, and similarly one huge abstract is hung in a corridor.

I can live without the sound piece and the rather unexciting film, but the reportage arrangements of printed material, his politics, and books are well worth your time. There is a lot to read. Patience rewarded.


Monday, 23 January 2017

Still I rise - London

Saturday, in my pussy hat, I marched with five women friends and more than a hundred thousand other women, men and children. From cities around the world our numbers were in their millions. 

Out from the social media echo chamber we came. Out onto the streets. The cry? There were many, but at their core: justice and equality. It was a celebration of diversity and the first mass resistance to the normalisation of the new world order, the new Nazism. Embarrassed Americans marched with us. We embraced them.

There are still so many issues, still so much to do as a second waver reminded us with her placard: I can't believe I am still protesting this fucking shit, and the same from the period dressed Suffragettes: same shit, different century.

Let me focus on just one issue that affects my country women in Northern Ireland and our sisters in the south. The whole island of Ireland is still an abortion free zone. The rosaries are still on their ovaries.

For me the most moving moment of the day was the vociferous reminder of this inequity. The Irish women shouting my body, my choice stopped the march. There was applause. There were tears and cheers.

If you want to do something real, practical and effective, go here. Help them have one thing we take for granted.

Then back to the streets. We are not going away anytime soon, and certainly not for the next four years.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Black Friday - Amercia loses the plot

Today in the winter light of Washington D.C. a billionaire septuagenarian woefully ill-equipped and ignorant is being inaugurated into the most important political office in the world.

This is not a joke.

This man, who claims to be successful in business and a great deal maker, yet has had many companies in bankruptcy and been sued for defrauding clients, thinks he knows what's best for America and thus the rest of us.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

He is dismantling healthcare from the most needy, denying climate change is even a thing, let alone the most pressing issue facing our planet, thinks NATO and the arts irrelevant, Brexit a good idea, and is rattling his sabres at China. He thinks he's smarter than the intelligence agencies, ignores security clearance processes, and is building a wall against Mexico.

Now he has the nuclear codes.

This man, who makes policy by tweet, knows not how to govern, the behaviours and protocols, nor the gravity of the role expected of him.

He is a self-confessed and accused sexual predator, and is on the record denigrating women, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBT community, gold star families, and the disabled. He is a sexist and a racist.

And, let's not pull our punches, he is a fascist, busy cozying up to Russia and trying to silence and control the free press. America is blessing its first dictator and that cannot bode well for the world.

The only ray of hope on this sad January day is that Congress moves to impeach him immediately. In the meantime we need to continue to call him out - this is not normal - and poke fun at him. He has such a thin skin and short temper that one Saturday night, perhaps tomorrow, he might actually explode.






Poem for 20 January 2017

The fake beetle

always flounders and, limbs akimbo
falls from his ball of dung.


At night he tries navigation by the stars
but, fixed in their firmament, they do not
stoop, or aid, or grace his stage.