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!

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.