Catalan anger and British reporting

It’s interesting to read British broadsheets whilst in the midst of the Catalan-Spanish political crisis about next week’s referendum. In particular, it seems to me that The Guardian is reflecting from the perspective of the Spanish government.

Recording the sound in the street next to mine last night, 20 Sept, 10:15pm

Here in Barcelona, people were in the streets last night, either at the main protest or banging pots and pans on balconies (‘cacerolada’, or ‘saucepanning’), and shouting about freedom. All peaceful, but angry – walking home was quite moving and rather deafening. The outpouring of anger was triggered by the Spanish government’s ordering of its Guardia Civil (national police force that reminds many here of Franco-era repression) to arrest 12 Catalan officials and raid printing premises yesterday morning, resulting in the confiscation of the 10 million ballot papers.

This situation is the culmination of the past few months of planning for the Catalan referendum. The referendum itself is illegal under Spanish law, but the Catalans I have spoken to (whether or not they agree with its taking place) describe it as a last resort. The Spanish government under Rajoy has, they feel, not been interested in taking seriously their claim to independence, or their concerns about the ways that Spain capitalises on the income from Catalonia without reinvesting in it to an adequate degree.

Rajoy’s attitude is seen by many Catalans as the latest blot in a centuries-long series of campaigns by Spanish governments to repress Catalan language and culture and ‘homogenise’ Spain. Rajoy went on television last night to tell the Catalan separatists to stop their ‘fracturing’ and ‘radicalisation’ of their people, and that their activities were illegal. What stunned me – since it’s the first time I have really listened to one of his speeches – was that there was not much attempt to highlight common ground, to acknowledge the feelings beneath the actions, to suggest a way forward for a common future, taking everyone into account. There was just a ‘stop this, and we’ll talk’.

Reading the British newspapers, I’m struck by The Guardian’s focus on the Spanish government’s perspective. An article entitled ‘Is Madrid in danger of playing into Catalan separatist hands?’ says it all. To compare with other broadsheet article titles: The Guardian’s ‘Catalonia divided’ is The Telegraph’s ‘Anger in Barcelona’. The Guardian’s ‘Pro-independence protesters rally’ is The Independent’s ‘Tens of thousands hit Barcelona streets’. (The Times has a pay wall and it’s a Murdoch paper so it can take a walk.) All of these statements are broadly truthful, but with a very different emphasis and level of appreciation of the historical context.

For the moment, the protesting here is a masterclass in peaceful but noisy expression of extreme anger and hurt. It remains to be seen how the crisis will play out next week in advance of the referendum date, Sunday 1 October. Since websites etc. are forbidden to advertise the referendum, there are pages/communities you can sign up to that are entitled ‘1 October: That thing’, or similar. Protests are organised via WhatsApp groups of political activist organisations. All are appealing for activities to be peaceful.

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Pigeon Pie, a poem

Since I regularly wade through the ocean of chaff that is The Blogosphere to search for fresh and moving poetry, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of what I find.

THE POET BY DAY


Lives built on pigeon dreams
structured by Madison Avenue
calculated by Wall Street
beribboned  by Hollywood
We take them: these manufactured dreams,
one-size-fits-all, straight off the rack . . .
And damn cheap too!
Mad, cannibal pigeon dreams
turn good minds and whole hearts into mince
We pray to false economies,
seek deliverance from Cheap Jack
We buy one, get one free –
And fetch and fetish youth eternal
from face-lifts, Botox™, and boob-jobs –
Exit here:
drugs, alcohol
sex-a-PEAL
en-ter-TAIN-ment.
Get a house, a car, a jewel –
Be the first on your block.
Buy now. Pay later.
Filling the empty with nothing more,
something less . . .
and warehousing our souls, they
gather dust in public storage . . .
the first month free.
Poems unwritten. Songs unsung.
Chumped. Stumped. Petrified.
A gullible human Pigeon Pie,
neatly boxed
and wrapped to go.

© 2017, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit – Lars…

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The Glade – poem

Today a weeping willow caressed my feet
While I weathered a storm in my mind.
A shrouded breeze flew around me, and I
Lost my axe to the shuffling leaves.

In this garden of rustling blankets,
Our bodies bend: our roots go deep.
Come to the glade, where sunshine and tree
Dance through the tempest
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO – Disarming me.

Demolishing Starlight – poem

My flat is a few streets away from Las Ramblas, where the Barcelona attack took place last week. This is a smallish city, and I had friends who were close by. No-one I knew was harmed, but plenty of people were harmed or killed. I didn’t want to post at the time because I did not want to direct web traffic towards me. I wanted to leave the space for relatives of those harmed.

The same day as the attacks, just before them, I had written a poem that reflects on the disconnectedness of humans from each other and from nature. However we explain the root of this mass murder and others like it, there is a fundamental disconnectedness involved. A lack of empathy and recognition that I am you, that we are all the same; and the lack of empathy is present in powerful governments around the world, not just the attackers. They are the ugly face of a deep human problem. I wanted to share the poem so that this could be heard.

Demolishing Starlight

In a city,
Ravaged shreds of ideas
Conflate in a network of unknowns.

Action and re-action, a tornado in a square
Yard, pumping carbon into skies,
Deflated vistas, angry eyes.

Life all around with nature on shutdown:
Tropic of Cancer lost the midday sun to a
Rash of humans, substituting people with
Things, demolishing starlight.

Poem: ‘Eaux errantes’

Here’s another poem from my French ‘Slam dit bien’ poetry group. I’ve done a rough translation to English, which is below!

Eaux errantes

Eaux errantes
D’où
Emanez-vous?

De goutte à goutte
Vous picotez
La surface
Sur laquelle vous atterrissez

Vous prenez le chemin
de la moindre résistance
Avec le plus de gravité

Par sagesse
Ou par simple paresse ?
On ne saura jamais

Mais dans le procédé
Vous nous rendez
Mouillés, trempés

Et puis, ça y est !
Vous vous en allez
En vous évaporant

Finalement,
Quand l’humeur vous prend,
Vous recommencez.

English version:

Wandering Waters

Wandering waters,
where do you
come from?

Drop by drop, you
peck the surface
you land on

Taking the path of
least resistance
with the most
gravity

Wisdom, or
laziness?
We’ll never know.

But – in the process –
you dampen and
soak us

And that’s it!
You depart by
evaporating

Eventually, when the
mood takes you,
you start again.

SLAM'DIT BIEN

de Siobhan Tebbs

Eaux errantes
D’où
Emanez-vous?

De goutte à goutte
Vous picotez
La surface
Sur laquelle vous atterrissez

Vous prenez le chemin
de la moindre résistance
Avec le plus de gravité

Par sagesse
Ou par simple paresse ?
On ne saura jamais

Mais dans le procédé
Vous nous rendez
Mouillés, trempés

Et puis, ça y est !
Vous vous en allez
En vous évaporant

Finalement,
Quand l’humeur vous prend,
Vous recommencez.

https://siobhantebbs.wordpress.com

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Poem: ‘Bracelets seem as though we had been making them’

stones-2243313_1920 (2)

Bracelets seem as though we had been making them:
Smothering wire and tiny stones, altering outcomes,
Batting away flies. Safety lies in such focus. Twisting
Transience into silent braids; naming every child;
Blackmailing beaded misfits into shape. We’ll die
Surburbanites, tied to inborn courtship of our trades.