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  • seandodson 11:38 am on February 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: abel meeropol, arts feature, billy holiday, black history, dorian lynskey, , poetry, protest song   

    Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit, the first protest song 

    The finest arts feature I have read for some time is this backgrounder to Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, which the Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey cites as the first great protest song. The technique in the feature is exemplary, note how Lynskey projects the atmosphere of the song’s first ever performance, through the clever use of the present tense, to describe a night at the infamous Cafe Society, a speakeasy in New York, in 1939.

    The song was based on a poem by Abel Meeropol in response to the lynching of two black men in Indiana in 1930. It is harrowing to say the least.

    Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit [via hypem]
    Nina Simone – Strange Fruit [via hypem]
    Sub Sub – Southern Trees [YouTube]

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  • seandodson 3:41 pm on October 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: awake young men of england, eric blair, , , poetry   

    Thanks to my good friend Phil Simms for … 

    Thanks to my good friend Phil Simms for sending me this cutting of one of George Orwell’s (real name Eric Blair) first ever pieces of published writing. The Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard (now simply the Henley Standard was the first paper Blair ever wrote for.

    This poem, a fascinating snippet of jingoism, was written when he was 11. I think he described himself as a “Tory anarchist” in those days.

    Incidentally, this is new to me, The BBC’s Orwell Archive, full of memos and other ephemera from his time as a war time broadcaster. No audio though, none remains.

  • seandodson 2:11 pm on October 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Merill, poetry, st james's park, wildlife   

    Black swans seen 


    I recently returned from a weekend in London where Anna and I found this delightful pair of black swans in St James’s Park. They are beautiful birds, as tame as pets, with long, looping necks and bright red beaks the colour of post boxes. They reminded me of the poem by the late James Merill:

    Illusion: the black swan knows how to break
    Through expectation, beak
    Aimed now at its own breast, now at its image,
    And move across our lives, if the lake is life,
    And by the gentlest turning of its neck
    Transform, in time, time’s damage;
    To less than a black plume, time’s grief.

  • seandodson 10:39 am on December 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ebook, , , poetry, ,   

    The Agrippa Files : William Gibson’s poem reflects on the fleeting nature of memory 

    In 1992, William Gibson wrote a 300-line poem and published it on a magnetic disk which was programmed to erase itself upon exposure to air.

    Collaborating with the Dennis Ashbaugh and award-winning journalist Kevin Begos, Jr they put it in a handmade book and filled it with disappearing ink.

    It was “performed” at the Americas Society in New York and transmitted across “the wilds of the internet” later that year, but has since been lost to time.

    Now the Universities of Maryland and Santa Barbara have recovered the original file from one of the discs and published it as the Agrippa Files.

    A deep and complex website, the Agrippa Files contains “emulations” of the poem, a facsimile of the book and exhaustive documentation

    (via Me-Fi)

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  • seandodson 10:26 am on August 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , mike garry, , poetry, ,   

    The deification of Tony Wilson 

    It’s a year since Tony Wilson, the cofounder of Factory Records, died of cancer in Manchester.

    Fellow Mancunian Mike Garry has written this poem dedicated to him. An ode to St Tony of Manchester. I won’t republish the whole thing here – but please click through as it’s an excellent poem. The first six verses give you a good flavour. You can also watch a spoken word performance of the poem here, it’s from the end of the recent Tony Wilson Experience. Factory’s design guru, Peter Saville, gives a little speech; Wilson’s son gets on the stage in for an emotional moment and then Garry comes on.

    A poem for Anthony H Wilson

    Saint Anthony
    Saint Anthony
    Please come round
    Something is lost that can’t be found

    Talk to me of Albion Anderton
    Albrecht and art
    The Arndale
    Alan Turin
    Acid House
    Alexandra Park

    Bez the Buzzcocks bouncing bombs
    The beautiful Busby Babes
    Cancer Christies Catholicism
    Crack and Curt Cocaine

    Talk to me of all these things and one thing is for certain
    I’ll see the face I’ll hear the voice of Anthony H Wilson

    Dance Design Devotto Durrutti
    Development of an industrial dirty Northern City
    De La Salle
    And how in the end you hated the pity

    Elvis Engels ecstasy
    A girl called Emmeline
    The hours I spent watching you on my black and white TV.
    From So It Goes To Sunday Roast
    Elephants washed by dwarves on 1970’s TV

    Factory fame financial fuck ups
    Poetic Form
    The Fall
    4 June 1976 at the Lesser Free Trade Hall

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  • seandodson 11:13 am on February 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pelican, , poetry, things   

    Judging poetry by its cover 

    There’s been a revival of interest in Penguin Book covers of late, partly due to the influence of things magazine (tagline: print is not dead, it’s merely sleeping). I have never been such a fan of the “classic” Pelicans of the 60s that are so much back in vogue, but love the warmer charms of the Penguin Poets. I’m not the only devotee, Mr B, a London-born resident of Belfast has created a wonderful series of posts dedicated to the various different editions.

    • Johnny Cullen 5:13 pm on April 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’d agree with your comments about the Pelicans. The link is a good one too; the Flickr set is very impressive. The Penguin Modern Poets series is also worth a look, for both the covers and the – often surprising – featured poets.

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