Thursday, November 10, 2016

Exiled Writers Ink; Nottingham Festival of Literature; DAWN OF THE UNREAD

‘I’m not a line that you draw,’ declaimed Shieraouf. Byron’s spirit lifted in the old George Hotel, as the young poet in exile from Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan spoke her defiance. She forms in verse the most extreme experiences, explaining that ‘19 is different’, not at all humdrum, for that is the number of Yazidi women consumed in fiery cages.

This was a rare night in November Nottingham when Exiled Writers Ink came, originally, from Iran, Israel, Bangladesh and the hills of Iraqi Kurdistan, to give voice to Jewish and Muslim writers. ‘It was a good gig,’ remarked Michael Mehrdad Zand Ahanchian, born a jew in Iran,who has spent most of his life in the United Kingdom, now drilling down into civil wars and turbulence that lie buried deep in most places. Up the road from George Street, where Michael shared his astranomical verse, Standard Hill records an English King’s fatal mistakes.

Shamim Azad clicked the rhythm in Bengali and English, explaining why she is ‘Not a Chameleon’, asserting the great strength that resides in her Bengali voice, which she shares with the students of East London, far from her native Bangladesh, from where her family fled decades ago.   

Yvonne Green transported us from Central Asia, where an antecedant had been Court Poet (not a concubine), to Golders Green, via Israel and Alexandria, the home of Omar El Hazek, Virtual Writer in Residence at Nottingham Festival of Literature, who is prevented from travelling outside Egypt. She commended the interview with Omar in LeftLion, which will become a ‘collector’s item’. ‘Jam and Jerusalem’, Yvonne’s spiky poem about Golders Green, traced the history of Knights Templar on that Manor, their riches, down to the ‘writer-descendents’ of Ducksetters Lane, whose divisive copy bombards Londoners in all their variety. She described the poem as ‘rough stuff’.

The Nottingham Festival of Literature is a rare thing fine as a beeswing. Catch it while you can. Tomorrow, Friday, we launch Dawn of the Unread at Antenna, Beck Street, at 7.30pm. Shieraouf, a graphic fan, seems intrigued by these tales of avenging Nottingham writers.


https://nottsfol.co.uk/event/dawn-of-the-unread 
 
Tony Simpson
 

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Dawn of the Unread: book launch

Nottingham's Antenna Media Centre is set to host the launch of the physical manifestation of Dawn of the Unread. For those who may be hearing about this project for the first time, it began as a series of interactive webcomics featuring Nottingham's prominent literary figures, and which considered our contemporary engagement with books and learning resources. Now the stories have been bound together as a paperback collection, edited by James Walker of local LeftLion magazine. It has been printed by Spokesman Books in association with the UNESCO-accredited Nottingham City of Literature project.


The launch will take place on 11 November, beginning at 7.30pm and ending at 9.30pm.

To purchase tickets, and for further information, see: https://nottsfol.co.uk/event/dawn-of-the-unread/

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lisa McKenzie interviewed by LeftLion

Spokesman Books keenly follows local Nottingham magazine LeftLion. We read with interest Robin Lewis' interview of Lisa McKenzie, whose book Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain may be seen as a spiritual successor to Ken Coates' Poverty: The Forgotten Englishman.

A research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Lisa spent her early life in the St Ann's area of Nottingham, a council estate borne out the experimental 'Radburn' urban planning design. She describes reading Coates' Poverty when she was taking a course in social work, and realising that 'that was what [she] wanted to do. From the point of view of someone who's lived through it.'

Read the interview in its entirety here:

http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/title/lisa-mckenzie-on-class-and-culture-in-st.-ann-s/id/8557 

Poverty: The Forgotten Englishmen is available to purchase online from Spokesman Books here. 

http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/acatalog/Ken_Coates.html 

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

'Not as dumb as he looks' - Muhammad Ali on Bertrand Russell

In his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, Muhammad Ali recounts how Bertrand Russell got in contact with him, and their ensuing correspondence:


***

For days I was talking to people from a whole new world. People who were not even interested in sports, especially prizefighting. One in particular I will never forget: a remarkable man, seventy years older than me but with a fresh outlook which seemed fairer than that of any white man I had ever met in America.
My brother Rahaman had handed me the phone, saying, ‘Operator says a Mr. Bertrand Russell is calling Mr. Muhammad Ali.’ I took it and heard the crisp accent of an Englishman: ‘Is this Muhammad Ali?’ When I said it was, he asked if I had been quoted correctly.
I acknowledged that I had been, but wondered out loud, ‘Why does everyone want to know what I think about Viet Nam? I’m no politician, no leader. I’m just an athlete.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘this is a war more barbaric than others, and because a mystique is built up around a champion fighter, I suppose the world has more than incidental curiosity about what the World Champion thinks. Usually he goes with the tide. You surprised them.’
I liked the sound of his voice, and told him I might be coming to England soon to fight the European champ, Henry Cooper, again.
‘If I fight Cooper, who’d you bet on?’
He laughed. ‘Henry’s capable, you know, but I would pick you.’
I gave him back a stock answer I used on such occasions: ‘You’re not as dumb as you look.’ And I invited him to ringside when I got to London.
He couldn’t come to the fight, but for years we exchanged cards and notes. I had no idea who he was (the name Bertrand Russell had never come up in Central High in Louisville) until two years later when I was thumbing through a World Book Encyclopaedia in the Muhammad Speaks newspaper office in Chicago and saw his name and picture. He was described as one of the greatest mathematicians and philosophers of the twentieth century. That very minute I sat down and typed out a letter of apology for my offhand remark, ‘You’re not as dumb as you look,’ and he wrote back that he had enjoyed the joke.
A short time after I fought Cooper, when I had another fight prospect in London, I made plans for Belinda and me to visit him, but I had to explain to him that the outcome of my fight against being drafted to Viet Nam might hold me up. The letter he wrote back was sent to me in Houston:

I have read your letter with the greatest admiration and personal respect.
In the coming months there is no doubt that the men who rule Washington will try to damage you in every way open to them, but I am sure you know that you spoke for your people and for the oppressed everywhere in the courageous defiance of American power. They will try to break you because you are a symbol of a force they are unable to destroy, namely, the aroused consciousness of a whole people determined no longer to be butchered and debased with fear and oppression. You have my wholehearted support. call me when you come to England.
Yours sincerely,
Bertrand Russell


By the time I got his letter I had been convicted and my passport lifted, just as his had been in World War I. Four years later, when my passport was returned, the friend I had made with my remark in my front yard had died. I thought of him whenever I visited England and for years I kept a picture of his warm face and wide eyes. ‘Not as dumb as he looks.’


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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nottingham Refugee Week 2016

Next month, Nottingham Beyond Borders and a host of collaborating groups will stage this lively programme of events for Nottingham Refugee Week

From 17-27th June there will be talks, film screenings, music and theatre performances, food tasting evenings and many other activities held in venues all over Nottingham, in the spirit of celebrating 'the contributions made by refugees and asylum seekers to the economic, cultural and social life of the city', and also to raise awareness of the challenges faced by refugees, and the reasons which compel them to flee and/or seek asylum.

We attach images of the programme below (click to enlarge).










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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Statewatch 25th Anniversary Conference

European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary

STATEWATCHING EUROPE
Civil liberties, the state and the European Union

10:00 - 17:00, Saturday 25 June 2016
Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London N7 (map)


For 25 years Statewatch has been working to publish and promote investigative journalism and critical research in Europe in the fields of the state, justice and home affairs, civil liberties, accountability and openness. We invite you to join us in London on 25 June 2016 at our Conference where there will be:

Workshops and discussions on the refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU; mass surveillance; the EU's crisis of legitimacy and accountability; the policing of protest and criminalisation of communities; racism, xenophobia and the far right; strategies of resistance and the defence of civil liberties.
 

PROGRAMME: HTML | PDF

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Tickets provide entry to the conference, lunch and free tea/coffee/water all day.
You can choose the quantity of tickets after clicking the 'buy now' button.
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You can also make a booking by post and pay with cheque or postal order - just fill in this form (pdf) and return it to us.

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PROGRAMME

Speakers

Ann Singleton (Co-Chair, Statewatch), Tony Bunyan (Director, Statewatch), Deirdre Curtin (Professor of European Union Law, European University Institute), Steve Peers (Professor of Law, University of Essex), Emilio de Capitani (FREE Group), Ralf Bendrath, Frances Webber (Institute of Race Relations, UK), Stratos Georgoulas (Lesvos, Greece), Gus Hosein (Privacy International), Val Swain (Netpol, UK), Steve Wright (Leeds Beckett University), Eric Topfer (CILIP, Berlin), Ben Hayes, Amandine Bach, Liz Fekete (Director, Institute of Race Relations), Matthias Monroy (Berlin), Eveline Lubbers (Undercover Research Group), Heiner Busch (Solidarité sans frontières, Switzerland), Suresh Grover (The Monitoring Group), Deborah Coles (Inquest), Dave Whyte (Liverpool John Moores University), Gareth Pierce (lawyer), Aidan White (Ethical Journalism Network), Eric Kempson (Hope Centre, Lesvos, Greece), Jean Lambert MEP (Green/EFA group), Stafford Scott (The Monitoring Group), Courtenay Griffiths QC, Ska Keller MEP (Green/EFA group), Lorenzo Trucco (ASGI, Italy), Caroline Intrand (Migreurop), Philippe Wanneson (Passeurs d'hospitalités, Calais), Vassilis Karydis (Acting Ombudsman of Greece), Staffan Dahllöf (Denmark) 

Saturday 25 June 2016


10.00 - 10.30 Registration

10.30 - 11.00 Opening plenary

11.30 - 13.00 Parallel workshops session 1: The EU in crisis

1. The crisis in legitimacy and accountability

The EU faces simultaneous crises: the refugee crisis, counter-terrorism, the rise in racism and fascism and continuing austerity. At the same time there is widespread disillusionment with EU institutions - will the EU survive and if it does what kind of EU will it be?

2. The refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU

There is a crisis in the Med with thousands dying and an almost complete failure of EU institutions and most EU governments to respond. Will we see Turkey do the EU’s “dirty work” by detaining refugees seeking to flee backed by a EU Border Force policing on land and sea – complemented by Eurosur and mass deportations?

3. Mass surveillance, technologies of control and unaccountable states

The security and intelligence agencies have survived the “Snowden revelations” and are seeking to extend their powers. How are new technologies being developed and employed by the authorities? Can meaningful control be asserted over the security-industrial complex?

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Parallel workshops session 2: Challenges and strategies

4. Racism, xenophobia and the far right


The right, the refugee crisis and the war on terror. Racists and fascists still on the streets and now in parliaments and government. And at the formal level the move from multiculturalism to monoculturalism amidst a growing authoritarianism and failing democracies. Is this inevitable?

5. Criminalising communities and policing protest

Undercover policing undermining organised dissent backed by the surveillance of social media and marginalising protest. Suspect communities and resistance. What can be done to research and expose the activities of state agencies?

6. Defending civil liberties and strategies of resistance


Campaigns in the streets, courts and communities: anti-deportation, deaths in custody, blacklisting workers, cover-ups and state crimes. Turning defending civil liberties into resistance - what can history tell us?

15.30-16.00 Break

16.00 - 17.00 Final Plenary

Click to Book now:
http://statewatch.org/conference/

Our last conference was held in 2011. You can watch videos here

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Richmond Castle's Conscientious Objection 'graffiti'

Last week we spotted a BBC News feature on the conscientous objectors held at Richmond Castle during the First World War, and one of the unique ways in which they left their mark on the place: pictures and messages drawn on the walls of their cells. The article elaborates:

The graffiti features pencil drawings and inscriptions, including slogans, poetry, and portraits of loved ones.

A grant of £365,400 from the Heritage Lottery will be used to protect the work and allow public access.

...

Kate Mavor, English Heritage's chief executive, said the graffiti was an "important record of the voices of dissent" during the war.

She said it was vital to preserve "these delicate drawings" to ensure the stories were not lost.

High levels of moisture and damp meant the layers of lime wash and plaster on the walls were crumbling and flaking off, she added.

The full story, including excellent images of some of the graffiti, is accessible at BBC News here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-36279166

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