Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

 

On Sunday I took part in the “March in May” demonstration in Adelaide, from Victoria Square to State Parliament. There were marches all over the country, protesting against the Abbott governments budget cuts to health, education, pensions, the ABC, and any other sector you care to name which Abbott does not like. The Murdoch media, predictably, was dismissive. The Sunday Telegraph headline was “The Ferals are Revolting”. Clearly the reporter had not noted the broad cross-section of Australian society represented by the demonstrators: school children, teenagers, parents, grand parents – every age group and every walk of life. Abbott has succeeded where Labor had failed – he has re-mobilised those who believe in a progressive Australia.

In the evening, coincidentally, I watched a gripping documentary called “The Square”, which happened to be about political demonstrators gathering in another square:  Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011. The documentary tracks four or five participant in the demonstrations: a Muslim, a couple of young activists, a singer and an actor Khalid Abdalla, who starred in “The Kite Runner”. The demonstrations led to the overthrow of the oppressive Mubarak regime, only to see it replaced by brutal military rule. They then forced the end of military rule to see it replaced by the rule of Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Again they forced the end of Morsi’s regime in 2013.

It is an incredible insight into a complex situation, which I had barely understood before. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 100% and describes it as “… an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news”. You can watch the whole film on the net here and here.

I took some quotes from the film and, with some minor alterations, have combined them into a sort of collage:

 

The Square

They will take you away

for dreaming the wrong dream

 

The rich don’t demand freedom

Because they already have it

 

They made two ballot boxes

One for the killers

One for the traitors

 

We are not looking for a leader

We are looking for a conscience

 

Religion is not in a book or on paper

Religion is in your head and your heart

 

They are gassing the hospitals

Even the doctors are dying

 

The good and free are called traitors

The traitors are called heroes

 

The Square united us all

 

© Mike Hopkins 2014, except for quotes from "The Square"

saint_tony

I’m not in a good mood today, having stayed up to the early hours to watch my Premier League team Fulham, desperately needing a win, throw away a two goal lead. Not sure why this still upsets me but it does. So there’s a bit of venom in the brain today, and it’s come out in the form of satire. I acknowledge a debt to the great, veteran, British performance poet Attila the Stockbroker for this one. He did a wonderful piece called “The Bible according to Rupert Murdoch“. I’ve pinched the idea and turned it into this:

 

The Gospel According to St. Tony

after Attila the Stockbroker

 

In the beginning was the word

and the word was Stop!

 

And the Lord said:

Let there be a plague of slogans and let there be a slogan for every prejudice,

Yea, even until the prejudiced themselves will say “Stop the Slogans”

 

And let St. Tony be the prophet whose mouth will constantly chant these slogans

And let St. Rupert be the holy messenger of these slogans

for he has minions in every corner of the land waiting to write the word.

And let this plague of slogans spread across the land so that the people hear and see nothing except “Stop”.

 

And St. Tony, in his raiment of red speedo and chest of camel hair, hearing the words of the Lord, smirked in an unholy way.

And St. Rupert said:

Now, let us also send forth the shock jocks of the east for verily, they will gladly mouth these slogan ad nauseam.

And let the old growth forests be felled to feed the paper mills so that my media empire can engrave the word “Stop!” in 4 inch headlines on newsprint every day unto eternity.

And let not the people be allowed to think of anything but “Stop!

For thinking leads to fornication, sodomy and bestiality and if any reporter dares to start an article, not with the holy word “Stop!” let he or she be cast forever from the media empire and spend eternity volunteering for Radio Adelaide.

And the Lord looked down on St. Rupert’s work and on St. Tony’s slogans and saw that they were indeed execrable.

But this was capitalism, and it made rich the robber barons of the land and so it was good.

 

But lo, it came to pass that the people went mad from the constant slogans. They took to drink and drugs, fornication, footy, home renovations and cooking to deaden their pain.

And St. Rupert sent forth his Fox Channel familiars to film the people and all the goings-on thereof, and made it into a top rating reality show.

And so the beginning of the end began.

And from there, things got even worse.

 

© Mike Hopkins 2014

f-35

“The Government has given the go ahead for the purchase of 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) at a cost of $12.4 billion – making it the nation’s most expensive Defence asset.” (ABC News, 23/4/14).

 

Reasons to Spend $12 Billion on Fighter Jets

 

  1. Saves on medical bills – less Viagra needed by politicians and military top brass.
  2. Loud, fast, impressive flypasts at motor races
  3. Avoids arguments between bureaucrats about whether to spend the money on health or education
  4. Sounds really impressive in speeches – sexy words like ‘strike’, ‘JSF’, ‘fighter’, ‘f-35, ‘hornet’
  5. Exciting daily rides for large numbers of Australians – well 58 of them at least
  6. Wonderful vote of confidence in those great, great people in the armaments industry
  7. You can get somewhere really fast – if you’re on your own, a qualified F-35 fighter pilot and the ‘somewhere’ is an air force base or aircraft carrier
  8. Got to love those vapour trails
  9. Easy to park – can fit into just 4 normal car park spaces *
  10. Gives lots of our money to a really needy country … the U.S.A.
  11. Stimulates jobs … in the U.S.A.
  12. Shows how independent we are from everybody (except the U.S.A.)
  13. Scares the shite out of boat people when you fly really low over them
  14. Big boost to the sales of plastic model aircraft kits and glue
  15. Video stores get increased demand for rentals of  “Top Gun”
 * car park spaces must be at the end of a 750 metre runway

 

You know it makes sense.

 

© Mike Hopkins 2014

Half-a-Sinodinos

I’ve always disliked Arthur Sinodinos, if only because he was the close advisor to the Australian politician I detest the most, the awful John Howard.

Sinodinos got into parliament at the last election by being given a Senate spot on the Liberal ticket. He was seen as a likely star performer for the government’s first term and was immediately appointed Assistant Treasurer. He had to stand down from that position recently, when it was revealed that he had a severe conflict of interest during his time as deputy and Chairman of Australian Water Holdings (AWH). He was involved in a deal in which he stood to personally profit by a cool $20 million.

This week, he had to front ICAC (the Independent Commission against Corruption.) where, conveniently, his memory deserted him, and he could not answer most of the Commission’s questions. He seems to remember very little of his time at AWH – though he was paid an annual salary of $200,000 for 45 hours work per year.

 

Ode to Arthur Sinodinos

Oh Arthur, Arthur, Arthur Sinodinos

So fucking smart, but still an ignoramus

Snout in the trough, you really are mendacious

Like little Johnny Howard, cunning and quite shameless

Scared to tell the truth and die like Coriolanus

Didn’t see nothing, your head was up your anus

When ICAC asks you questions, you answer them with silence

Or blame it on your sister, Martha Sinodinos

Money from the purse, your appetite’s voracious

You could have had it all, and an office of the highest

Now you’re half the man you were, you’re half-a-Sinodinos

 

 

© Mike Hopkins 2014

artsfeast

A friend recently raised the subject of nudity in poetry, as an offhand email remark. It got me thinking about the Billy Collins poem “Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes”, which is an irreverent tribute to the great female poet whom he metaphorically undresses.

I quite often find it easier to write a poem modeled on another poem. So it got me thinking and I came up with the unsavoury idea of undressing Australian Prime Minister (God those last three words sound so wrong) Tony Abbott. The poem spilled out fairly quickly. I performed it last Sunday at the most anarchic, no-holds barred poetry gig in Adelaide, “Spoke n Slurred”. I read the poem early on, whilst the audience was relatively sober, which is probably a good thing, because if they’d been drunk I think there might have been some vomiting. However, I later heard that I’d been awarded half of the cash prize for ‘poem of the night’ or something, sharing it with that other man who knows all about drinking and vomiting, Dick Dale.

I’ll be reading “Taking off Tony Abbott’s Clothes”, tomorrow (26th January 2013), in a 20 minute set I’m doing at the ArtsFeast in Strathalbyn. So be warned, you may want to stay away, or bring a bucket.

Here’s Billy’s more savoury version:

and here’s a link to the ArtsFeast programme, which has loads of great performers and workshops. I’m on at 4:10 p.m.

http://artsfeast.webs.com/itinerary

Poem number 20.

A first draft. It may become a much longer poem – it certainly needs some work on the end. But I like ranting political poems and this is one of those. Influenced directly by hearing the incredible Omar Musa performing his poem “My Generation” in Adelaide recently. This is a sort of tribute / apology / explanation in response to Omar’s piece.

My generation

My generation

surfed on a post war tsunami of hope

smashing strictures and tradition.

 

My generation

was populated by long hairs

and hippies, rock rebels

folk music revolutionaries, guitar and harmonica hyped protest singers

driven by psychedelic visionaries and beat poet pulses

 

My generation

was stained by bubblegum bores and paedophile pop stars

titillated by centre spreads nude from the waist up not down

idolised sport stars who were working class heroes on working class wages

 

My generation

saw change as normal

apathy as appalling

had street marches, sit ins

Marxism, socialism, dreams and ideals

was not commoditised, commercialised, incentivized and monetized

 

My generation

had free education, free school milk

free health care, free bus passes and free love

skinheads, racists, mods and rockers

dole queues, lock outs, class warfare provoked by the privileged

 

My generation looked on in horror but looked on just the same

Looked on as rights became privileges

Looked on as the idea of society was demonised and individuality was beatified

Looked on as greed was glorified and compassion scorned

Looked on as possessions became an endless procession

and acquisition became a life mission

As the best education and health was reserved for those with wealth

As street marches and strikes were replaced by online petitions and Facebook likes

 

Yes, my generation fucked it up.

Yes we let it slip through our hands

Yes we were idealistic, impractical, introverted, incoherent, inflexible

But this generation doesn’t have to take it

Doesn’t have to be sucked into the system

Doesn’t have to be distracted by baubles

 

This generation can win it all back.

 

Yes you can.

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2013

In the ModPo course (which I have just about finished, 10 weeks of hard but excellent work), some of the language poets studied, experiment with translation. Some use Google to write alternative versions of an existing poem, or a new poem.

Here’s the result of an experiment of mine.

I’ve taken a famous line from the Australian National Anthem, a line which is somewhat controversial, as it is certainly not observed in the attitude of politicians to refugees. The line is:

For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share

I put the line into Google translator, and passed it repeatedly back and forth between English and a foreign language, in alphabetical order, starting with Afrikaans and ending in Yiddish. If the translation from English to another language, back to English resulted in any change to the line, I put the line into the ‘poem’, and then passed it onto the next language in the list.

What’s the point, you might say? Good question. Maybe none. Except that it does make us think about the meaning of words, the meaning of translation, the translation of meaning, and it was a bit of fun. The transformation from first to last line is an interesting one, I think.

Here’s the end result:

_________________________________________

For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share

For those who came over the sea we’ve boundless plains to share

For those who came over the sea we have boundless field to share

For those who came from over the sea we have limitless field of post

For those who came from the sea we have an inexhaustible field post

For those who came to the sea we have a post in the field of renewable

Those in the sea we have a post in the field of renewable

Those who are at sea we have a message for renewable

The sea has we have a message for renewable

Sea we have a message for renewable

Tues we have a message for renewables

Tuesday we have a message on renewable energy

Tuesday we report on renewable energy

Tuesday we refer to renewable energy

Tuesday we refer to the renewable energy

Tuesday we refer to renewable energy

Tuesday we look at the renewable energy

Tuesday we are looking for renewable energy

Tuesday we are seeking renewable energy

Tuesday we want renewable energy

Tuesday we want to make renewable energy

Tuesday we want to create renewable energy

Tuesday we want to build renewable energy

Tuesday we need to develop renewable energy

Alan Jones

I’m into week 4 of the excellent “Mod Po” (Contemporary and Modern American Poetry) course run by coursera.

If you don’t know about coursera, you should. All sorts of subjects are taught online, for free, by leading international universities. If Mod Po is anything to go by, the courses are as good as anything you’d pay large amounts of money for at your local university.

https://www.coursera.org/

This week, the subject has been modernism, finishing off with a hilarious little piss-take of the sonnet, by John Peale Bishop, “A Recollection”.

Here is my take on it: a sort of sonnet, inspired by recent Australian political events involving Alan Jones. (if you don’t know about Alan Jones, all you need to know is that he is a right wing radio shock jock of the lowest kind).

Remember, one of the things about modernism is to read the words, forget the way you were taught to read, just look at the words. Leave a message if you can read them.

Alan Jones Descending the Staircase, Nude

Shamelessly, he descends, pink domed
Unfettered by reflection or intellect, caught
Creased not by wisdom’s pearls, flaunted paunch
Knees knocked inward, straining under the load


Heavy breasted, flab flanked, greying pubes were
Odder even when a younger self fought
Lone against bullies, scrawling obscene thoughts
Each day, unimagined, an unloved twerp


So he suffered under a darker cloud
Moved his waxy hands to prey
Each time he succumbed penitent not proud
Devoid of love-liness, spoiled depraved


In later times he dishonours his own as he would
A braying pustule on the airwaves


This is one of his most famous poems. I think it’s another great protest poem. A condemnation of the Thatcher era, how it laid waste to large sections of British cities.

“Keith Joseph smiles, and a baby dies,
in a box in Beasley Street”

Keith Joseph was a Minister in Thatcher’s government.

Beasley Street represents inner city northern England, but is not a real street. JCC said he chose the name because it was easy to rhyme!

I’m not writing a lot at the moment. Work is getting in the way. But I am soaking up a lot of youtube material.

I’ve been catching up on John Cooper Clarke, and will post some of his stuff here over the next weeks.

“there’s not anyone that’s much more credible in the world than John Cooper Clarke”

“if you’re any sort of a groovy dude, you’d know who John Cooper Clarke is”

“he’s like a kind of a animated stick insect”

“It wasn’t like a poetry reading that you’d ever seen before”

If you don’t know much about him, here’s a trailer from the film “Evidently”: