Newspeak

This spoken-word piece was named  “Newspeak” after the phrase coined by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s just media language.

This piece is about a few different things including media language, violence, guns, history and corporations. It darts around and I hope you can follow it.

“Newspeak”  is also inspired by a poem called “How America Loves Ferguson Tweets More than the City of Ferguson” by Jaqui Germain on Button Poetry.

The media treats violence like a blockbuster. It’s  about being flashy, generating millions via ratings, or in the case of movies, the box office.


The media love mass shootings, legacy media do; not the tragedy and death but they love the ratings. News stories perpetuated like horror films. No, action films like Bourne and John Wick. Bang! Shots fired followed by news cameras editing down grief like a plot device, and they’re all fighting for face-room.

How we love school shootings more than the institutions themselves. How we love to tweet. #Parkland, and that’s just one but there’s been fifty-seven this year. Fifty-seven attacks. It’s going to be a long summer of worshipping the flag, as politicians attack people of colour, under the flash of ulterior motives.

Spectres in street lights while black bodies splayed in the haze of tear gas, making the headlines of articles that win Pulitzer Prizes and Emmys for stories that sound good, like the click of the trigger. The rounds in the chamber. It’s not good at all, is it? A taxidermy of people’s trauma. How we’ve trained ourselves to be the undertaker, as victims are blamed for being maimed by the choice to continue to use archaic legislation.

Photographer: Elijah O’Donell

Praise Twitter for microphones and media, making it harder for people to remain oblivious to the terrors vomited onto the streets of cookie-cutter neighbourhoods. If I were to die in police custody, the rungs of the cell would be the obsolete tears of my family, as they’d go unnoticed by the ones with quills.

Change the laws; stop hiding behind the 2nd Amendment, hand-to-hand hatred, outclassed out-dated . Put more limits on guns, as mental health-patients have more freedom to firearms than healthcare. But to be anti-gun means to be anti-American or so news corporations imply like they’re the House Un-American Activities Committee. Anti-gunners are the Hollywood Ten, communists who just want to live on a plot of land.

Heck, they just want to live! A patch of land would be a map of bleeding artefacts, as the history of America is the history of violence; the history of violence is the history of the West and it’s built on a mass grave.

These killings are nothing new; here we have Parkland. We have police creating more black stars than Hollywood. Or was it before that under the boots of slavery and Jim Crow? From Selma  1965 to Detroit  1967 to  Lord Mansfield and the Zong Case in 1781.

Or was it when white men forced the Native Americans to assimilate their whiteness? Or was it when General Washington won America’s independence for the white upper-class?

Or was it when the pilgrims came from England? Or was it  when Christopher Columbus came? And now America celebrates Thanksgiving.

It’s Britain’s historical amnesia. It’s America’s historical amnesia. It’s teaching schoolchildren that Columbus discovered America and the West Indies despite the already-thriving population – look to the Arawaks, the Caribs and the Amerindian past.

The right to bear arms. The right to fight in any capacity. It’s just right now, people can walk into Wal-Mart and then proceed to shoot up a school. The rules have changed, evolved, and technology with it. Mostly pissed-off white men who are as much terrorists as ISIS, not simply in a mental health crisis as the news says. Ready to condemn men with non-white skin, protecting the dominant culture’s melanin.

Legacy media love school shootings. They love terrorist attacks. They love violence and serial murder investigations that go on for months. They see ratings, we see grief and distress and horror.

They love children getting hurt. They love corrupt politicians. Lights, camera, action, cut, edit, effect. It’s a Hollywood movie. Car chases; car chases with guns, helicopters, speedboats, bomb blasts. Terrorist attacks on an iPhone, zooming in on faces of guilt and innocence.

Photographer: Rachael Crowe

Write the article how you want. Fake news. Alternative facts. It’s a damn tragedy. It’s a script. It’s a blockbuster. It’s nonfiction. It’s memoir, biography and someone’s life story.

And we, now, are watching them in the post-production phase of history. It’s us watching them watching us on this  ball in the vast expanse of space. And as long as we are who we are, history is the last place we’ll look for our lessons.

Watershed (After Allen Ginsberg)

This is a poem that I wrote in my head in November and only articulated it onto paper two weeks ago.

I came into contact with “Howl” years ago but I only recently engaged with it personally last January, not long after starting university.

Allen Ginsberg is one of the figures of The Beat Generation, along with Jack Kerouac (On The Road) and Ken Kesey (One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest).

In short, “Howl” is a declaration of personal experiences with religion, sex, drugs and society’s absurdities. Part I is about individual cases.

Part II talks about the  Moloch of society, which represses feelings and forces the victim to declare themselves mad if they do not suppress the said emotions.

Part III is a proclamation of sympathy with Carl Solomon (he’s in an asylum). In that last part, Ginserg is standing in solidarity with his imprisoned friend, extending his hand in friendship. This is an act of emotion in the poem, an idea that society seems to be subjugate.

In this act of rebellion, Ginsberg is embodying an anti-establishment attitude, thus sticking it to The Man, to put it bluntly.

“Watershed” was written as a stark contrast to “Ode to the Millennial Generation” and a modern rewrite of parts one and two of “Howl”. The title comes from that time after 9pm on television when all the darker / morally-ambiguous shows arrive on air.


I

I saw the greatest people of my youth destroyed by society – pure, naked, rancour; hauling themselves through the streets in the midsummer looking for something to do,

music-headed millennials listening to the sounds of Paul Weller and Bob Marley looking for a connection to their parents’ generation,

the people who plodded through poverty and sat up smoking seeing the supernatural silhouettes of spectres floating across canopies of towns and cities in an existential crisis.

Photographer: Stas Svechnikov

These are the millennials who bared their knuckles to Snapchat and Twitter, hash-tagging their way through Wikileaks and Edward Snowden,

who passed through university swimming from the loan shark – dead eyes hallucinating like seeing giant chickens on the streets of Amsterdam,

those who cowered in cubicles making memes with nooses to hide their depression –

today’s kids who advertise their beards and long hair like Gandalf posing on the cover of Vogue.

They’re confused, like fish seeing land for the very first time, along with dreams, drugs and disillusionment. Walking nightmares, alcohol and one night stands that turn into functional relationships

on the blind avenues of a sporadic cloud and thunder in the landscapes of Bangkok and Melbourne, illuminating the rude awakening of real life.

Photographer: SHTTEFAN

Rookie soldiers of the twenty-ones to thirty-fours, responsibility and family life dawns while wine drunkenness catches their eye –

joyriding and jaywalking with no care, sun and moon and nature’s touch in the season of orange in Central Park, as poets and actors preach in the streets,

as feminists protest like Civil Rights activists marching from Selma to Montgomery under the threat of dog’s teeth and tear gas and police chants and horses and riot shields and batons and the legacy of Jim Crow,

and the millennials would yawp and whisper war stories about when they’d been arrested and on which march – the shocks of A & E, jail and combat – whole minds deteriorating in a seven-day layover with prison food, like vomit from concentrate,

those who disappeared into the cracks of Birmingham. Broad Street and New Street, leaving a trail of blood to the Rep Theatre,

watching poverty run riot by the riverside restaurants, as the homeless wander asking for change so they can live another day.

Photographer: Spenser H

The millennials who jump in taxis to go two minutes down a road, those who lay hungry and broke in cafés talking about literature,

and those conversations disappeared into the tattooed trees on the table and into the local narratives and told tales of Northampton, Bedford and Cambridge,

and further still – into the West Country of Devon, Dorset and Somerset, places that investigate newcomers and make you forget city life and its liquid lunches,

inflicting scorch marks on the anticlimactic nature of capitalism in The West – places where police create more black stars than Hollywood,

millennials who broke down in jail cells and wailed like sirens when they just happened to be wearing a hoody in a white neighbourhood –

who were raped by those who preyed on low self-esteem, taken advantage of like the slaves who worked the plantations in Mississippi and Morant Bay.

Photographer: Maciej Ostrowski

But the millennials went on partying through Manchester and Liverpool – a juxtaposition to the legacy of slavery. Myriads of slaves at auctions who stood all day with bloody feet.

My generation who watch Black Mirror and Westworld as Theresa May perfects the art of crashing the NHS,

the young people who read romance novels in Costa whilst plugged into bad music, who sit depressed under their own storm cloud,

who had suicidal thoughts in school and were told to get over it – like depression and anxiety were no different to burning your hand on the grill.

The generation that murmur all night, scribbling incantations on how to be happy in blank verse, who watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower like it was the story of their lives,

who cut their wrists at breakfast, lunch and dinner and were forced to open nostalgia shops when they failed, who hanged themselves in their bedrooms and were forgotten.

Photographer: Jens Thekkeveettil

The people who sang  in Warsaw and retired to their beds… forever to tend their war wounds like it was 1st October 1939 all over again,

who were given daggers for their “ums” and spears for their “likes” and electroshock therapy to cure their anxiety of the tomorrow.

Camden Town and Oxford arguing on how to talk and how to live, tongues wagging from midday to midnight,

and those who dreamt up stories on the bus in long sentences, trapping the metaphors and similes with semicolons and subordinate clauses,

who boobie-trapped the verbs and nouns with dashes and commas in long sentences like Oscar Wilde.

And in the spirit of jazz in New Orleans, saxophone’s cry across the water with the tears of a thousand years of blissful adolescence, and are good to grow one thousand years more.

Photographer: Jens Thekkeveettil

II

What foul creature carved out their souls and imagination?

Society – isolation – independent loneliness and inflation. Young people screaming in their homes. Children caressed by Hollywood divinities.

Poverty sleeping in the parks. Society! Society! The nightmare of society. Loveless in its mutilated Marxism, the brutal judger of broken people.

Society, the unimaginable jail. Society, the black dog walking through the graveyard. Society with its logos of judgement and stunned governments,

whose minds are machinery; whose blood is money; whose fingers are on the nuclear codes; whose torso is a bonfire of the youth; whose souls are stocks and shares.

Society where people sit alone, scared of their own faces. Society with its containment culture and cookie-cutter flats and invisible poverty lines and fake wars –

visions, symbols and miracles down the Thames. Dreams and aspirations gone with a whole truckload of toxic political correctness and fragile masculinity.

A storm. Epiphanies, politics and religions gone as the boat flips. Despair! Years of suicides and crazy crucifixions into a haze of holy yells.

Just One More

Just One More was written in response to Wilfred Owen’s Last Laugh and my poem follows an unnamed woman who gets drunk one night as she can’t get over the death of her childhood friend.


“O fuck! I’m hit”, she said; and passed out.
Whether she meant it, or said it in passing,
Mr Gordon released his chute – closed fist,
open open! The hyenas cackled, and the
klaxons guffawed.

She came too. “Help! Mom! Dad! Johnny!”
she roared. That was her childhood friend.
Like a brother. Three years her junior, the
dead soldier who’d sooner desert the flag
than defend civil conflicts over sand and oil.

“My friend!” she yelled. Dismally-drunk was her
temperament. Till cradled, was her chin in thin
shells, like her own, but not. Mrs Mother groaned,
holding her child’s tired, exhausted face, and the
pavement hissed.

I’m Never Drinking Again: A Parody Poem

I wrote I Am Never Drinking Again…  in response to Attack by Siegfried Sassoon.  My poem is a satire of what it means to be young and carefree, mocking my college days as I don’t do stuff like that anymore (well not like I used to).

Siegfried Sassoon was an English poet and soldier during The First World War. Whilst in a hospital in Scotland in 1917, he met fellow poet Wilfred Owen (I spoke about him earlier). They were friends but he also acted as Owen’s mentor.

Sassoon is mostly remembered for his polemic and compassionate poems about his time at war and his thoughts on the war itself. This made him a controversial figure, bringing him to public and critical acclaim.

Avoiding the blind patriotism and romanticism of the war, Sassoon wrote of the horrors and brutality of trench warfare. He satirised generals, politicians and the clergy for their incompetence in support of going to the front.


At first light, the young emerge drunk and done
staggering through the town’s tired sun,
drifting in hoards of women and blokes that manifest
tremors in the footpath’s yolk; and one by one,
toy soldiers tumble towards the wire.

At 7am, food joints open. Then some soberly, and
hopelessly – filled with Jägerbombs, Schnapps shots and
their loss of dignity, these partiers crawl to meet Subway’s choir.

Like Tamagotchis with dead faces, masked with fatigue,
they finish their sandwiches, climb over the top,
while time is an illusion – hungover heads and
hysterically hoping with fortune, that they drop down dead.
As they crawl upstairs past mom’s wagging finger
and flounder through the grass, O Jesus make it stop!