Then spree

poetry & diary by Nia Davies

Tag: activism

Solidarity Park – poems for #resisturkey / #OccupyGezi / #direngeziparki

I fell in love with Istanbul in 2010. And then with Anatolia as a whole. It’s a deeply fascinating region for me and I have even been trying to learn Turkish over the past few years. I am  lucky enough to have visited a number of times in 2011 and 2012 and made friends with some  inspiring people –  poets and writers Gonca ÖzmenGökçenur Ç, Yaprak Öz, Efe DuyanMehmet Altun, Pelin Özer and several others as well as a number of courageous and creative publishers, activists and literary promoters. So the last two and a half weeks I have been shocked and upset by the way the police and government in Turkey have violently treated peaceful protesters speaking up for their right to public green space and against the increasingly oppressive policies of the AKP.

In response to this I got together with UK-based poets Sascha Akhtar and Sophie Mayer to found ‘Solidarity Park Poetry – poems for #ResisTurkey / #OccupyGezi’. Solidarity Park is a place where poets from around the world can show their solidarity with the verve, courage and “soul force” of the Turkish people as they struggle to own what is theirs. So far we’ve published nearly 20 poems from poets around the world and will be publishing more over the next few days and weeks. We are also fortunate to have two translators on board – Duygu Tekgul and Çağdaş Acar and the poet Gonca Özmen as our consulting editor.

If you’re a poet and you’d like to get involved please read our call-out to poets: (English) (Türkçe) and send us a poem to solidarityparkpoetry@gmail.com. And please help us spread the word if you can, we are on Facebook and Twitter: @SolidarityPark.

In solidarity and hope,
Nia
http://solidaritypark.wordpress.com

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My first guest blog on the New Welsh Review website

“Outside a West London pub, Serogo repeated my name. I’ve been asked about it many times before but I’ve never got this reaction: “Ah Wales – freedom fighters!”…”

I have been asked to write some guest posts on the New Welsh Review editor’s blog. So for the first one I took the opportunity to bang the drum for West Papua and the people resisting the brutal colonial oppression of the Indonesian government. Please visit http://newwelshreview.blogspot.com to find it.

Vauxhall, London. October

These streets are is heavy with berry and pod. This squatter’s paradise, Bonnington Square, is an inner-city riotous jungle of trees and plants. Tiny plots outside the Victorian housesBonnington Square are bright and green with rowan, birch, fig and the more exotic: banksias and plenty of unidentified rosey, honeying bushes and foliage I have never seen before. Huge palms spike out of the pavement. In the Harleyford Road Community Gardens roles of turf are stacked like lime and chocolate Swiss roles.

Langley LaneA gardener tells me that in this patch they planted a meadow but the nettles and other flagrant leafy bullies moved in and terrorized all the other plants out. So they are replanting. Not to make a prim and trimmed lawn; it will be sown with wild flower seeds to become a luscious little zen-ringed patch tucked in to one of London’s most secret and delightful corners.

The thick and muggy mist has cleared over the city. People sit outside Italo deli in the yellowing autumn sun. A couple try to climb the silver birch in the square. I’ve seen siskinds and goldfinches here.

Bonnington Square, on former WW2 bomb site.

Bonnington Square community Gardens, planted on the site of a WW2 bomb site.

This is my lunchtime oasis from the office: a green

hideout, tucked away behind fumey, clanking piss-streaked Vauxhallwith its screaming gyratory, the subterranean rumble of trains and the chain cafes that seem to sprout lattes and boxed salads into the rare spaces between the buses and the MI6 spy cameras.

Developers plan to build another monstrous building, a river-side glass and steel tower that will eclipse the sun and blot out the sky over Vauxhall. But Bonnington square has a long rebellious history of community activism and so they are raging

back, fighting for our refuges and wild spaces in the midst of growing cheap developments, sprung-up overnight, unlike mushrooms.

Rage! Resist! Plant!

Langley lane http://www.vivavauxhall.org/

Bonnington Square Gardens

Dyce, July

BP headquarters in Dyce are shiny clean. There are instructions for visitors on how to be safe in the office. The days since the last injury at work are recorded on the wall. It’s a gulf away from the gulf of Mexico. It’s the oiless immaculate conception of a very messy industry.

So is this deliberate posturing? Or do these things always work in binary? BP would have to take safety seriously here. In July 1988 the Piper Alpha rig on the north sea Piper  oil field suffered a tectonic gas explosion. 167 people died. Aberdeen remembers this, BP should do too.

And what the Gulf of Mexico leak had happened here? I am sat by the river Don in Dyce, all rushes and grasses and shades of green. What if these crooked herons and delicate terns were coated in the sludge and slurry of the earth’s underground stores?  What if that particular slick, that forever changes our climate when burnt, was spilt here and came up this river? Queeny’s swans would turn into thick cartoons of slimy soup. (At least Donald Trump would leave this coast alone).

Baby martins, swallows and swifts snatch at the wind and the river is in a state of hushaby. The mewing from the buzzards never ceases in this peaceful place, a million miles away from American waters.

The big birds chop over too now and then: helicopters flying bodies out to the oil fields. At Glastonbury festival I saw an RAF chopper refashioned into a comical monster – all tooth and crooked legs, it’s skin blistered. That was the work of the Mutoid Waste Company; sculptors of the huge, remakers of the machine. BP headquarters could do with one of those creations in their sterile, squeak-clean foyer.

I see a water vole crossing my path, just ambling contentedly along sniffing the river bank. On the radio they tell me that these voles could become victims of spending cuts when conservation budgets are ripped up. The interviewee is one of those never-angry scientists that they get on the Today programme: ‘Once the vole is extinct here, it’s gone forever. We can never get it back.’

‘But can we really afford to save this creature?’ asks the reporter repeatedly. ‘A million pounds is quite a lot of money.’ The here and now and immediate is more important to this economics-obsessed journalist. For the one-day-turnover media, saving a million for the humans today seems more pressing  than saving a precious part of our wild world forever. I want the conservationist to shout and rage agianst this. To scream and be passionate. But I don’t get my wish.

www.watervolescotland.org

http://mutatebritain.wordpress.com

www.trippinguptrump.com

Dalston diary

It’s a Sunday afternoon. I lean out of my door. I wish I had a camera for this. There are yellow and green flags, a portrait of a moustachioed man waving above a procession heading up Kingsland road. And so out I go. In the electric air there are crackling shouts from a modest crowd, ‘Turkey! Terrorist!’. It’s a Kurdish protest against ‘Turkish atrocities’. This is Turkish Dalston and they are entering Turkish Stoke Newington. A few people look on with straight faces.

I love the atmosphere of a protest; people and passions colliding in peace. Soon everything is back to normal and the usual populations jostle around the empty market space. The familiar smells of both raw and barbequed meat pass in succession. The dragging work of TFL continues. With the new train line comes an extension of the City. We must all eventually circle the orbit of the gherkin like a game of swing-ball. For now Dalston is still raucous, scab-ended and bright with life.