POEMS FOR #PUSSYRIOT PROTEST

Tomorrow the appeal for the three jailed women from Pussy Riot will be heard. Their lawyers do not expect their sentences to be overturned but that they may be commuted. The Russian Orthodox church has issued a statement regarding this today suggesting that their repentence should be taken into consideration.

The women are unrepentant following their arrest in February for  performing an anti-Putin song, a ‘punk-prayer’, in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. They apologiesd at their trial for causing any offence to believers but said they were committing a political act. The case has attracted wide condemnation as a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

There is a protest outside the Russian Embassy in London tomorrow to help raise awareness of the appeal and in support of Pussy Riot. Several poets including me will read their contributions to the Poems for Pussy Riot project.

My poem Tricky D.I.S.C.O is here

CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT, edited by Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, is published on 1 October: ePUB, Kindle and PDF versions will be available here from 00:01hrs. 110 poets have contributed to this amazing collection.

I am thrilled to be part of it- as a mother, an ardent feminist, and a creative person I am horrified that these women have been incarcerated and separated from their families for singing a song in a church; for freely expressing their opinions and strong feelings regarding the political and religious situation in their country.

‘Catechism’ is distributed on the ‘Pay What You Think It’s Worth’ model popularised by Radiohead and others. All revenue will go to the Pussy Riot Legal fund, and the English PEN Writers at Risk Programme.

Please see English Pen’s web site for more information and to read some of the fantastic and extraordinary poems and images which have been posted there.

NO PASARAN

FREE PUSSY RIOT!

Treeathlon

Yesterday I was lucky enough to take part in Trees For Cities’s Treeathlon, which took place in the leafy environs of Battersea Park. It was a gorgeous early autumn, sunny September day, as predicted. Perfect weather to enjoy a 5k run round the park.

I was on the 7.47am train with my excited son, and in Battersea Park station by 8.12am! I never realised it was possible to get there so fast- which pleases me because Battersea Park is ace and Sam is desperate to go back. We met my friend Liz and her daughter there, who were coming along with us to support me and keep Sam company while I ran the race.

The event was well thought-out and impressively organised, with a large corner of the park set aside to accomodate Treeathloners and their friends and families. After registering and collecting my official Treeathlon Marcus Lupfer-designed tshirt (see above) I changed into it using the spacious changing tent provided. I was then able to leave all my ‘gubbins’ behind at the left-luggage tent for a very reasonable £2 donation to Trees For Cities. In the midst of all the ‘operational’ facilities  was The Blue Bus stage, playing cheerful festival-vibe music in between sets from London band Scarletts Roses and my favourite, The Sunshine Swing Band.

A small but perfectly chosen array of food and drink stalls complemented this, with freshly baked pizzas, vegan curry, candy floss on a stick, cocktails and jerk chicken wraps on offer.

At 9.45 the warm up began with Sinitta and flamboyant-is-an-understatement Francis Alejandro Cardoso from Dance Flavourz , who have performed on Britain’s Got Talent (not that I would know) and who led the expectant runners in a warm up. This began to my delight with Sinitta’s ‘So Macho’ and went on to some serious Samba music and movement.

The runners were called to the Start line in Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner sections. I had already decided to stay right at the back, so I missed Alex James from Blur who was apparently starting the race. After doing well with my training over the last eleven weeks I’ve been poorly over the last two and only managed two runs in the last fortnight. But after the support and generosity of friends and family who have sponsored me to the tune of £216 (thank you!) I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Instead I doubled up on my asthma medication and aimed to take it slow and steady like an Ent and see how I got on. If an Ent can walk than so could I if I had to…

I was helped along by the soundtrack in my ears which included Scritti Politti, Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow, Chicks on Speed and Arcade Fire (‘Month of May’ and ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) driving me on for the last 1500 metres) which I’d selected the night before. But really I didn’t need much to spur me on, the atmosphere was fantastic, the enthusiasm palpable and the park is beautiful. We had two laps to run, past lakes with canada geese scudding onto their watery runways; fountains, rose gardens, tennis courts and playgrounds. Past people playing football, lifting free weights, walking dogs, cycling and in-line skating. All while shaded by a glorious canopy of trees.

Liz and the kids were there to cheer me on as I completed the first lap and were there again to meet me at the finish. In the end I managed a personal best of 39 minutes and 52 seconds to run 5km. Not bad going considering I have only run 5km three times! After running I went to choose my sapling and picked a rowan tree. Now I just have to work out where to plant it.

Trees for Cities did a great job of catering for familes, offering all kinds of child-friendly activities. While I was running Sam and Scarlett had their faces painted in exchange for a donation to keep those trees being planted. This was top quality work (see below), and plenty of grown ups were also taking advantage of the face-artistry on site! After the race the kids and I also had a go at hulahooping, and there was sack racing, space hoppers, ‘cutting and sticking’ and drawing on offer too.

As we sat enjoying the band and eating lunch Sam turned to me and said: “I’m really glad you did this today. Was it very hard to do?” Awwww….there were some older children running too, so I told him maybe in a few years he could do it with me if he wanted to.

I absolutely loved the whole experience- all four of us had a great time. I would definitely do it again. This is the start of running for me- I am aiming to keep going and see if I can push my distance up to 10 km over the next few months, once I am better and have handed in my dissertation.

Growing Stuff

Yesterday I planted lollo rosso lettuce, Rainbow Lights chard, beetroot and mixed salad leaves in a couple of pots on my patio. These are very late but I am holding out for a wet summer (OhLimp*ck washout) and a sunny and warm September and October.

Sadly I’ve had little time or energy for gardening and my veg patch is a mass of weeds so the patio pots will do until I’ve got it all clear again.

I need to get some spinach on the go too. I can’t afford to spend £1.69 on a bag of spinach…and the rest…my aim is to be self sufficient in greens from the garden by this time next year…ambitious but also will save a fortune, taste better, have more nutritional value, and be environmentally friendly and sustainable. My son will know how to grow some of his own food as well.

There are french beans and mange tout growing in a pot by my front door too. Slight inspiration from 18 Folgate Street, aka Dennis Severs’ House, which I visited a couple of years ago on my 40th birthday- see the pics.

For more on my previous gardening and growing exploits see my Roar! Earth blog spot.