Saboteur Awards and ‘I am not a silent poet’ – Reuben Woolley

Here’s the link to the Saboteur Awards. You have to vote in at least three categories. A vote for I am not a silent poet in the Wildcard Category from all our readers and members of the associated Facebook group pagewould be more than welcome. Let’s see if we can win this year!

Just to sum up:
I am not a silent poet has received 157,173 hits in just over three years.
It has published over 3,000 poems.
The associated Facebook group page has 5,914 members, but you don’t need to be a member to visit it or to comment on any of the poems and links.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/721114444630517/

It has given a voice to poets of protest against abuse all over the world. I’m not sure I could name a country where it has not been read.

https://www.saboteurawards.org/

If you feel we deserve it, vote for us.

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silence my dear by reuben woolley

6-ahed2 morning star
ahed

………….they said

don’t speak this land

don’t see

ahed

when your cousin
is shot

ahed

don’t move
when we slap you
don’t respond

……………………….& now
in chains

say nothing
if we should abuse you / we only
do our best

ahed

……………they said

don’t speak

(photograph from The Morning Star Online)

4th International Festival of Poetry, Marrakech – Reuben Woolley

I´ve been invited to participate in the 4th International Festival of Poetry in Marrakech, Morroco in April. I’m going to take mostly poems from I am not a silent poet.

The Festival covers hotel and catering costs but doesn’t pay anything towards transport. Like most poets I’m rather poor and therefore I’ve set up a crowd funding to cover the flights.

If you can contribute, I would be extremely grateful. If you can’t, don’t worry, I’m sure I go with your best wishes.

Here’s a photo of the invitation so you can see it’s not a con trick (the Mrs is a typo and they say it will be corrected!)

marrakech-invitation

https://www.gofundme.com/travel-to-marrakech-poetry-fest

venus of coventry by reuben woolley

st george
in the front
window.this
is my white
house

………..& red
across a toy
globe.is what
we owned.picture

…………………………this

a palette
a broken artist

there are people
who think in colour

…………………………very separate

they do not paint the changes

10,000 disappeared by reuben woolley

these are the words of shadows
where i………………….hide
…………………………..a meaning

understand
………………i need you to

…………………………..see

where lies come
slipping

no

accord
by installments
………….the slight
degrees where children
go missing

For the refugee children who went missing in Europe.

Saltwater by Antony Owen, Reuben Woolley and Sonja Benskin Mesher

            He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the       …………planner.
……………………….Hesiod

For babes in skin-blue waters,
this sea shall only age for you,
let the wrinkles of this ancient empire conquer our hearts,
lay flags made of ragged clothes,
cup hands with unblessed water
wash ourselves unclean as night.
This happened this day our daily salt may we forgive those
Who trespassed towards us, may we forgive those who float, they
in salt- eyeballs,
drown in them.
Drown in you
Float on land
In Mother’s
We floated
In salt
come

& see
it
come
……….on stones

come
with pale
flesh
in its hands

……….& the years
don’t advance
……….time
……….fully
in their eyes

…………the tears
…………are not theirs
are grains to grow
…………in wooden boats for soil
………………….more and more
………………………….Syrian, human
………………………………….Four nails sing
…………………………………………Afloat on strangers shoulders
………………………………………………..Arriving in atlantis, sweet, paraíso.

moon boat 1

 

words:………Antony Owen
more words: Reuben Woolley
image:………Sonja Benskin Mesher

 

Interview with Reuben Woolley by Antony Owen

Hey Reuben, so tell me a little about IANASP and why people should read it?

I am not a silent poet started at the end of November 2014. I was at a point where I was getting very angry and depressed about the number of Facebook posts and Tweets about different kinds of abuse all over the world: gender abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, female genital mutilation, abuse of the disabled, the bombings in Gaza, Syria and many other places leading to the huge numbers of refugees trying to enter Europe with many drowning on the way in the Mediterranean, the mistreatment and killing of blacks in the USA, austerity imposed by the Conservative party in the UK and its terrible effects on the poorer members of society…

I felt it was time to do something, but this was rather frustrating because of my age and family situation, there is little I could really do except write. However, there seemed to be few places where poems of protest against abuse can find a home and also where the response time is very short. Many of these cases require an almost immediate response, almost like a newspaper.

This is why I decided to set up a blogzine for poetry and artwork about and against abuse of all kinds and where I could publish poems almost instantly (I think our record is about 3 minutes). These poems often demand that kind of response.

What kind of poems fire you up?

Poems where the heart, gut and mind are working together – both in the creation of the poem and in its reading. Poems which burn a light in the darkness. Poems which are not afraid. Poems which don’t need to rant to communicate what they mean. Slanted and subtle poems which come back to you at 3 am when you wake up and can’t get back to sleep again. And that is also a good time for writing those poems.

In 2015 it was reported by the UN that there are 60 million refugees/displaced people in our world and I wanted to ask you if you think there are enough poets writing about it?

I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell poets what they should be writing about, and I know that I would get very angry if someone came up to me and told me what I should be writing about. There is probably a lot more protest poetry being written than we are aware of, particularly at spoken word and performance events. Unfortunately, unless they are recorded on page or film many of these poems are going to get lost. Also, we are only aware of poetry being written and published in English and a few of the other languages of the world. What is being written (perhaps in secret out of fear) in Farsi, Arabic, African languages is generally unknown to us. This is something I am working on at the moment on I am not a silent poet. I want to encourage people from the countries where those languages are spoken (or refugees from those countries) to submit poems to the mag. I am guaranteeing their anonymity as I know, in many cases, their security is at risk. If they can find a way of getting their work to me I will try to publish as much as possible. I would need some kind of translation, but, if necessary, I’ll use Google Translator which might be enough for us to get some idea of the meaning.

I respect how your poems individually humanise the statistical devaluation of a collective label the media gives to ‘refugees’ like they are one being. I wanted to ask what began this journey into human darkness and the victims of injustices?

I almost never know what I am going to write about until after the poem has been written, and not always even then. The element of darkness is something I have always been fascinated by, whether the poem be socio-political or not, and, indeed, most of my work is not, at least not obviously so. I was rather surprised, in looking through my work, to find that I had written so many which were relevant to the refugee crisis. These, as you know, came together in skins which was published by Paul Hawkins and Sarer Scotthorne at Hesterglock Press early this year.

What poetry magazines are you really digging at the moment?

At the top of my list I must place Tears in the Fence, closely followed by The Lighthouse Journal and The Interpreter’s House – the fact that they have published work of mine might have something to do with that. Among the online magazines I would mention Ink Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Shed, And Other Poems, Goose, The Yellow Chair and, in its time, The Stare’s Nest. Again, the fact that they have published work of mine is purely coincidental.

IANASP is a literary kiln for poets starting out and more established poets wanting to experiment more and I wanted to ask you who are three male and female writers who we should be looking out for at the moment who you feel deserve a spotlight burning down on their work (include at least one from each at IANASP).

Marianne Morris whose book with Enitharmon, The On All Things Said Moritorium is brilliant.

Christine Murray, the Irish poet, with quite a few pamphlets to her name. She writes a blog called Poethead where she publishes poems by, translations of other women poets.

Gillian Prew, again with books to her name. She has also contributed to I am not a silent poet.

Michael Mac Aloran, an Irish poet who mainly writes prose poems and makes my work look light and bright. He edited my first collection, the king is dead, for Oneiros Books. I published some of his recent work on The Curly Mind.

David McLean, who lives in Sweden sounded by computers and enormous dogs. He writes in similar shades of darkness to Michael’s work. I’ve also published some of his recent work on The Curly Mind.

Debasis Mukhopadhyay. His contributions to the magazine have always been excellent and I really do think it’s time he were better known.

Why is it important for poetry magazines like IANASP to exist?

A simple answer. It provides a space for people’s voices and a voice for people who do not have one.

How many people are visiting IANASP and why are they doing so?

It must fulfil some need for people. Some of the readers must identify with the content of some of the poems. Also, for poetry readers in general, I am not a silent poet has poetry of many different styles, and very often of a very high quality. It’s also a good place for newer poets because they can find their poems alongside established and well-known poets.

Statistics. Since the end of November 2014 until the moment of writing (I’ll update these figures when this is published) we have published 1,940 poems and works of art (the vast majority, poems). We have had 84,794 hits. The associated Facebook group page has 4,609 members.

me at Newcastle Stanza

The necessity of anonymity – editor’s note

I know there are many countries, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, etc. which control or try to control people’s (especially writers’) activity on the social networks in an attempt to prevent dissent becoming public. If anyone wishes to submit their work to me for possible publication and actually finds a way to do so, in a message on Facebook, via email, in any way what ever… I should like to assure them that I will respect their anonymity in an effort to protect them from any repercussions that publication might have if the real authorship were to be known by the authorities in their country.

I can’t do much, but I can and shall refuse to reveal these brave writers/artists to any and all authority.

soft it is we drown by Reuben Woolley

here
……..on
red sand & sifting
……..i’ll find no diamonds
……..& no
………..dark
………..pearls

a treasure
………..drowning
………..dry

………………………deep
the tide
that didn’t rise
………………………the green
sea
that doesn’t cover
………..we’ll walk
a land that bleeds
the dunes the red & sinking

veins of red dust by Reuben Woolley

these broken ……….voices
…………………………daily

…………………..try

for silence / the quiet
calls.they lost

words
………..key
for any……..further
………………move

we do not hear
the barbed songs
……………the cut

cords

bleeding

still
……..the
…………….bombs

unbreathing

shut the eyes
in this white face of me

..

For the Syrian children living and dying under the bombs in Aleppo and elsewhere.

gibbet by Reuben Woolley

this
………is my
………pure redundancy
there’s no
……………..order
in the burning of it

……………..i’m a bag
of bones & chemistry

walking

& nothing
is new.i’ve fallen
through
…………..the
………………..years
………………..& i’m
here
for the closing
……………..a ready time
to search
……………..for a green
……………..place

& here’s………a bauble
…………………a rattle
of knuckles
…………& bright
…………………stones.is music

…………for an exit

a broken
…………………body
in the wind

..

From my book, skins, written for the refugees and published by Hesterglock Press. All profits for the refugees through the organisation, CalAid.
https://hesterglockpress.wordpress.com/reuben-woolley-skins/

full cover

Cover image by Sonja Benskin Mesher

mosul fires by Reuben Woolley

riding
like french aristocrats
to the burning
& even now
caged
for someone’s protection

there will be nineteen
flames to tell
& charred
bones
to count
their refusals

..

ISIS burns 19 Yezidi girls to death in Mosul

http://en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/06/04/758133/story.html

offshore austerity by Reuben Woolley

what sound do windows make
when they do not open

…………………….a signed story
…………………….laughing at surfaces
………………………………….only

standing
in some direction

they don’t provide for safety
& nothing’s allowed
to surprise……………not even
a sun
………rising
over ring roads

……….whose heads
are hanging now
……….these tired
precincts & cathedral
bones

we bleed
impatient
& stories
………tell stories
to fill the holes.the old birds
gaunt…………& greyling
in winds
unfeathered

uncrying
in corners
…………they hold for saviours

it’s a poor logic
of numbers.no words
to bury
………..we are
transparent
in burning rain
the leftovers
……………….thumbed
down by vacant caesars.raw
liver
for slavering jaws

..

Bio:
Reuben Woolley has been published in various magazines including Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House, Domestic Cherry, The Stare’s Nest and Ink Sweat and Tears. His collection, the king is dead  was published in 2014 with Oneiros Books and a chapbook, dying notes, in 2015 with Erbacce Press. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize in 2015. Editor of the online magazines: I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind. A new collection on the refugee crisis, skins, has been published by Hesterglock Press, 2016.