Poems at Occupy St Paul’s

I went to Occupy St Paul’s a couple of weeks ago with some copies of my poetry map, Amniotic City, and the people in the Information Tent at the time were keen to have a couple of the poems as posters. So I went back this week and stuck up two poems, ‘Feed the Birds’ which is in the shape of the dome of St Paul’s, and ‘The Imposible Circle-Squared Mile’ which is a comment on the foundations of the Square Mile and its business practices. These were written before any of the Occupy protests began but address some of the same issues and were written about this very part of London, so it seems fitting to have them in that spot.

Occupy Mother London

From Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice this year, I spent a significant amount of time exploring the small patch of the Square Mile encompassing Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill and Cheapside. Walking, taking photos, thinking and experiencing this, one of the most ancient and earliest settled parts of London. The site of much archaeology, mythology, conjecture and rumour. And finance.

I wrote thirteen poems incorporating my experiences of this complex place, many of them weaving personal experience of being a woman and a mother, with this area of the City of London. The poems became a map, Amniotic City, thanks to the artistic talent and skill of my best friend, and is now the first collection of poems I have self-published.

I took some of the maps up to Occupy St Paul’s this week, feeling a surge of energy there, in that space I have haunted, which gave me hope that it is possible to change this frightening and untenable situation that we, the 99% find ourselves in.

People are busy, determined, friendly and ready to talk. The site is well organised, with a superb Information tent and Tent City University with a full timetable of workshops and talks going on. More support and ‘new blood’ is needed to go and occupy as the current occupiers get worn out and lives cannot be put on hold forever.

Do not believe what you read: the tents ARE occupied (of course) and these are people who believe so fervently and strongly about what thay are doing, that they have managed to put their normal everyday commitments to one side for a time.

Go and experience it for yourself if you can. I wish I could say that I would go up there and spend some time being an occupier but as a single parent of a four year old that option is not possible.

That this occupation is taking place on one of the most ancient, important and contested sites of power in London does not surprise me.

It’s poetry in motion.

Train in Vain

In the Telegraph today:675 Railway station ticket offices to close

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8743170/List-of-675-railway-station-ticket-offices-to-close.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8741943/One-in-four-railway-ticket-offices-faces-the-axe.html

Both my local stations will have their ticket offices closed..at least one, the closest, where people have been mugged….and what about help for the elderly, disabled, people with children in buggies where there is no lift or ramp, only stairs? People with enquiries regarding train journeys? They are only partially manned now, during the day, making them at best eerie places to be alighting from a train at night…at worst dangerous…

And, let’s not forget how expensive and complicated that travel has become (and rail fares set to rise significantly again) since the last lot privatised it and the Labour government failed to use their mandate to re-nationalise…

Nadine Dorries “I am pro-choice and pro-women’s rights” Really?!

Take a deep breath before you read this by Dorries in the Daily Mail today-it goes for the emotional jugular- and then imagine how you would feel if you had to have ‘independent’ counselling of the kind Dorries is advocating. Dorries thinks there are too many abortions happening and the amount could be reduced significantly if this second tier is introduced:

Dorries: “I am pro-choice and pro-women’s rights”

Now think about the ‘support’ being offered to mothers by this ‘government’: cuts in housing benefit, cuts in support for childcare costs, cuts in working tax credits, forcible return to work that doesn’t exist, benefits taken away completely, scapegoated if you are a single parent for all the ills of ‘broken Britain’…

Here is a quote from a recent Daily Mirror piece on what the ‘coalition’ have done for women:

“..Since coming to power the Coalition has cut the childcare element of tax credits, abolished the health in pregnancy grant, raised the threshold for child benefit and put hundreds of sure start centres at risk.

Chancellor George Osborne’s deficit reduction plan is taking £4.20 a week on average from men and £8.40 a week from women says Labour’s equality spokeswoman Yvette Cooper. Campaigners say women are also unfairly penalised by the Government’s cuts to public services. Women make up 65% of the workforce in schools, hospitals and local government. And in the NHS 73% of the staff are women…”

Mixed messages?

Here are two extracts from Zoe Williams’s recent interviewing Dorries:

“It’s only a few days since I heard Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s, bemoan the fact that the proposed universal benefit cap will actively force large families to split up and live as two households. “I’d want to check that before I commented on it,” Dorries says. But it’s obviously true: if you cap benefits by household, it’s only logical that a family with, say, four children, would be better off as two single-parent units of two children each. “Well, Iain Duncan Smith would never introduce a benefit that would break up a family,” she insists. “I know Iain well, and everything he champions, pursues, pushes, is to create and support and reinforce relationships.” So that’s all right then.”

And this-

“…To return to those measures: moving guideline responsibility on abortions from the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) to Nice sounds fine, but validates the claim that the RCOG is motivated by profit and not female welfare, which I am amazed members are not more furious about. I’m also surprised they’re not better defended in parliament, because it is a slur. In any case, it’s not their fault we keep getting pregnant by accident. They bust a gut to give us contraception. This “independent counselling” amendment insults the BPAS and other abortion providers on the same grounds. I remain sceptical Dorries really is pro-choice, and I’m even more sceptical 20 weeks is really the limit she’d like to stop at. She is eroding the good name of people who support abortion and, if she succeeds, this will leave women’s rights, in years to come, poorly defended…”

We can’t let this happen. Women fought long and hard for reproductive rights and health…there are good reasons for the system we have currently in place. Don’t let it slip…write to your MP today- this could be voted on next week!

In my opinion this is just another part of this ‘government’s’ concerted attack on women.

Time to fight back!

Click here and spend 2 minutes telling your MP what you think.

Memo of a Demo

Kids smoking rollups

Looking cool with filters

Pushing a butcher’s bike

Stuffed with subwhoofers

“Fuck You I won’t Do What You Tell Me”

The protest posse posing for the long lens of the press pack

Do they know that demos are meant to fizzle like a sparkler

And then it’s time to go home

Job done, it’s been fun

Light the touch paper of democracy

A process hard won

If it looks like it’s gone out don’t go back-

It could explode onto the front page,

And riot rozzers are all the rage in this

Day and age

Legal Observer in orange gives me a bust card

“In case you get arrested”

Me, a 40 year old mum,

With a four year old son

I know what a bust card is

From way back when

But I never got caught up in any bother then.

As I leave Parliament Square lines of hi-viz cops

Become backdrops for tourists pics- memo of a demo

I clock the riot gear in the vans as I walk back across Westminster bridge

This poem was written in response to attending the strike rally at Westminster, a demonstration against proposed changes to public sector pensions and retirement age.

It was performed on the same evening of the strike.

For more information click here.

Entered into One Shot Wednesday at the fantastic One Stop Poetry site.