Monday, July 11, 2005

Up Yours, Bin Laden!

I haven't had much to say about poetry the last few days. Compared to the deaths of 49+ people, it all seems rather trivial. I guess there'll be some mostly bad poems written about it, though, as poetry for many people is a good way of getting things off their chest. No bad thing either; whether we like to think of it or not, poetry writing can be good therapy for some. It doesn't solve anything though; the people who need to read it never do.

I'm quite a religious person in my own quiet way, so to see the way that fundamentalists drag the name of God through the mud by blowing people up really makes me angry. Fundamentalism is about control: not just of your self, but it's an attempt to control the world around you. It's about fear: both in the fundamentalist soul, whose view of God is as some kind of tyrant who wants to control even your thoughts, and of the world. The old Mannichean dualism: spirit good, world bad.

Of course, when your world looks pretty bad, when you're poor and powerless or when America is tramping its heavy boots over your culture and values, it may seem more attractive. But it's ultimately a heresy: when God created the world he declared it "very good." We might have done all we could to muck it up and turn it into a chemical wasteland, but that doesn't mean it's not good to be alive in it. So when I heard about the bombings, my response was to buy a nice bottle of Pinotage from Sainsbury, and lift each glass up to say "Up yours, Bin Laden." And maybe that's the good thing about poetry: that it's ultimately about pleasure and praise and even if it can't solve the problems, can at least help us to live through them.

Over the last few days, it's been very hot and quite sticky. I went to a leaving-do for a man called American Dave on Saturday night, and even with the windows fully open the room was hot as a boiler. There were some poems from Mike, and Julian Daniel attempted to be funny. I don't think he's quite there yet; but he could be a good comedian in the end. Though not a poet, despite his "funny" verses.

I ought to say that Brando's Hat magazine is coming back, in print form, but I'm a bit reluctant to put my address details on the web for all to see. Watch this space though, I might find an alternative.

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