Some poems arrive unexpectedly. My poem ‘The Chair’ in Wednesday’s Morning Star caught me blind-side while scrolling through my Facebook feed. There was an image. One I couldn’t get out of my head. The only solution. Write a poem.
Black Lives Matter has arisen spontaneously, through the power of social media. It’s a movement for desperately needed justice. Anger can be turned into action. Laws changed. Attitudes altered. We all have our part to play. Things are changing – but slowly.
It seems deeply shocking that a so-called civilised society like America still executes people. The constitution allows each State to decide for itself, and tragically 25 States still have capital punishment on their statute books.
If that’s not horrendous enough, the colour of your skin has a lot to do with whether you receive a death sentence. The ethnicity of the murder victim is statistically the deal breaker – a white victim more often results in Death Row than if the victim were black. Old prejudices die hard. Some lives are still deemed more equal than others, yet the US Supreme Court does not acknowledge statistical bias as a reason to overturn an individual sentence.
I’ve been a member of Amnesty International for much of my adult life. It campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty world-wide. Do please consider joining if you aren’t already a member. Here is a link to their work on capital punishment: Amnesty International
My thanks to Andy Croft, who chose ‘The Chair’ as Poem of the Week in the printed newspaper. The Morning Star costs £1.20 and is available at a number of outlets, including The Coop, Budgens and McColls. You can also read its mix of News, Politics, Culture and Sport online, where my poem is also available to view at: The Chair by Claire Booker
Posted in Literary publications, Poems
Tagged 21st Century Poetry, African Americans, Amnesty International, Andy Croft, Black Lives Matter, Capital Punishment, Claire Booker, new poems, The Morning Star, United States of America
Thank you Andy Croft, editor of the 21st Century Poetry slot at the Morning Star, for taking my Lewis Carroll pastiche Jab-or-Washy? If Boris has time to read it when he returns to work tomorrow, he may see himself in a new light.
The poem came about in time-honoured fashion, through a small group of friends setting themselves a writing challenge. My brother laid down the gauntlet with a poem about Covid-19 composed in the style of Robert Burns. Duncan Fraser responded with a deliciously irreverent take on Shakespeare’s Cymbeline entitled Fear No More th’infected Bun. Then I shamelessly plundered Lewis Carroll’s great absurdist work for a chance to criticise how this pandemic has been handled. It was a record 7 days from writing the poem to publication. Normally it takes me months, years or, more frequently, never!
I couldn’t have known that casting Boris Johnson as the tardy battler against the Jabberwocky, would have me dicing with death – literally.
When I submitted my poem, he was doing well at home, with very mild symptoms. By the time Jab-or-Washy? went up on-line at the Morning Star, he had been admitted to hospital. During the following three days, it looked increasingly as if my poem was about to cross the boundaries of extremely bad taste.
Luckily for Boris, he pulled through and is thankfully on the mend. Let’s hope his close shave with mortality will give him the necessary jolt to properly resource the NHS. Praise and appreciation of course is great. But money is pretty handy too!
You can read Jab-or-washy? by clicking on the following link: Jab-or-washy? by Claire Booker
The Morning Star’s Culture pages carry several poems a week, together with book and arts reviews and literary discussion pieces. You can read seven free articles per month, before being required to subscribe. To submit a poem, email it to Andy Croft at email@example.com
Posted in Comedy/humour, Literary publications, Poems
Tagged 21st Century Poetry, Andy Croft, Boris Johnson, Claire Booker, Corona virus, Covid-19, Duncan Fraser, Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll, Pastiche poetry, Political Poetry, The Morning Sar