Poem a Day: Woman: #NaPoWriMo

Woman

Rose petals and woman silhouette digital art hd wallpaper
You cannot stop a force of nature
Her questions are getting no answers and she has to ask them louder.
She’s given no explanation and her confusion is growing stronger.

She is alone, determined to survive. She has the energy, in her mind.

She is a fighter and there is so much to live for, that’s why she was born. She will honor it. Do not cause her any harm.

If she feeds her soul, do you fear she can outgrow you? Don’t forget, she can uphold you.

She’ll put a message in a bottle. She will not be unheard.

You cannot stop a force of nature, it will catch up with you, it already encapsulates you.

The force is too strong.

She has been standing up for centuries and she will not to be silenced.

There’s nothing that can stop her, not ancestry, not violence.

Not even judgment because she knows…

All she needs is one person, because that love is strong.

Love lasts for all time, no matter where she has gone.

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National Poetry Writing Month: Requiem #NaPoWriMo

Raindrops on the train glass window
Raindrops on the train glass window

This is the perfect poem for me to kick off  my #NaPoWriMo contribution with, as I wrote Requiem after a long long period of writer’s block. The inspiration behind it was something so simple, yet created this out pour which I was not in control of:-

Requiem

Raindrops on the train glass window,

fall effortlessly like the pain you give and claim to not know.

Epitomising the demising friendship I was desiring, to step into; fantasising,

where it could go.

Oh they fall, so small,

But build up to a size,

uncontrollable to hold back anymore.

Like the tears in my eyes,

concealed by a smile;

hard to not eventually show at all.

They fall south despite being blown; forced in the other direction.

I wish I had somewhere to hide – a distraction,

from the cold slap of spite, like sudden frostbite

from the warm sunny flirts of your affection.

I wish I had some protection from the gust that stings my eyes,

And the whistling wind voicing my silent cries.

I was crazy for you.

Now I abhor you.

I guess I had to write a requiem for you.

Soon the storm will pass,

After a lightning flash making sense of the past;

To wash old rivers away,

Drown out the sorrow, for tomorrow may still be cold but will be a brighter day.

Shouldn’t let a bad experience diminish my spirit,

Or keep me from friendships.

I’ve come to terms with it.

Definitely learned from it.

You were never true.

I was crazy for you.

Now I abhor you.

So I wrote a requiem for you.

(here’s a requiem for you).

Celebrate Poetry, All Month Long

I have been thinking to add a poetry page/section to my blog and this sounds like the month to start.

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NaPoWriMo , or National Poetry Writing Month, is back!

NaPoWriMo is an annual project in which participants write a poem each day in April. It unfolds in the tradition of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, held in November) and motivates, inspires, and engages poets of all levels, genres, and backgrounds.

While a poem a day is your ultimate goal, there’s really no “right” way to participate. Start today and keep at it, and experiment as you see fit. Focus entirely on sonnets, or experiment with free verse. Participate on your own, or collaborate with others. Publish on your blog, or experiment offline.

Ideas to get started

  • Publish poems each day, focusing on a different genre each week.
  • Handwrite poems in a journal, for your eyes only.
  • Start a collective with others, plan themes for April, and publish poems on your own blogs focused on these themes.
  • Create a new blog or group site specifically for this monthly challenge.

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Damon Albarn: The Heavy Seas of modern technology

Artwork for Heavy Seas of Love: Palacio Salvo, Montevideo, Uruguay
Artwork for Heavy Seas of Love: Palacio Salvo, Montevideo, Uruguay

Damon Albarn has been building up the release of his debut solo album Everyday Robots with a series of heavy-hearted song clips.

The piano led song ‘Heavy Seas Of Love’  which features Brian Eno on guest vocals is the latest. The music box melody contrasts with melancholy vocals and overall is a mellow mid-tempo treat.

Other songs include the title track and ‘Lonely Press Play’.

The information accompanying the video for ‘Lonely Press Play’ explains it was “shot by Damon on a tablet and you’ll see scenes from Tokyo, London, Dallas, Utah, Colchester, North Korea, Iceland and Devon.” Albarn has always embraced  modern technology with music.  With Gorillaz, the visuals were the source of a new live experience.

From what we’ve seen so far from Albarn’s Youtube clips, for his solo project, there seems to be  sadness in the social commentary.

The lyrics, visuals and vocals all seem to be grieving for a population that  have become disconnected from real life when ironically, we are living in an era where the world is within our touchscreen fingertips.

For the ‘Everyday Robots’ video, Albarn sings  “We are everyday robots on our phones” as we watch the process of a human face forming in a digital animation. It’s a thought-provoking concept that reminds us to think what it is, to be human.

Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots is set for release on April 28
Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots is set for release on April 28

The single ‘Heavy Seas of Love’ will be available for download from April 27. The album Everyday Robots follows the next day on April 28.

Damon Albarn is set to perform with his current band, The Heavy Seas, in London before heading to New York to headline the Latitude Festival.

Upcoming gigs are as follows:

April

30 – London Rivoli Ballroom

May

1 – London Queen Mary University Great Hall

July

19 – Latitude festival – New York

Kate Bush covers: What if she were to return the favour on her tour?

Kate Bush’s Before the Dawn concert tickets finally go on sale Friday at 9.30 am.

Many artists have covered Kate Bush classics. Here are some suggestions in case she would ever consider returning the favour:

Kate Bush: This Woman's WorkMaxwell sang the 1990 Kate Bush song ‘This Woman’s Work’ for his MTV Unplugged concert in 1997 and recorded it for his 2001 album Now.

Kate Bush cover suggestion: Maxwell’s ‘Whenever Wherever Whatever’ (1997)

Kate Bush The Man With The Child In His EyesNatalie Cole covered the 1978 Kate Bush song ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ for her 2006 album Leavin’.

Kate Bush cover suggestion:  Natalie Cole’s ‘I’m Catching Hell’ (1978)

Kate Bush: Suspended In GaffaRa Ra Riot covered the 1982 Kate Bush song ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ on their 2008 album The Rhumb Line.

Kate Bush cover suggestion: Ra Ra Riot’s ‘The Orchard’ (2010)

Kate Bush Hounds of LoveThe Futureheads covered the 1985 Kate Bush song ‘Hounds of Love’ for their self-titled album in 2004.

Kate Bush cover suggestion: The Futurehead’s ‘Thursday’ (2012)

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush Don't Give UpHerbie Hankcock, with John Legend and Pink, covered the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush Duet ‘Don’t Give Up’ for Hancock’s 2010 album The Imagine Project.

Kate Bush (live band) cover suggestion: Instrumental interlude Herbie Hancock’s ‘You’ll Know When You Get There’ (1971)

Kate Bush’s Before the Dawn dates are as follows:

August

26 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

27- London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

29 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

30 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

September

2 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

3 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

5 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

6 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

9 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

10 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

12 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

13 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

16 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

17 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

19  – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

October

1 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

 

Lapiro De Mbanga: Cameroon’s Voice of the Voiceless leaves a legacy of revolution that lives on

Lapiro De Mbanga, one of West Africa’s biggest names in music who fought against political corruption in Cameroon, died of cancer this month after living in exile in America the past two

In a country with one of the lowest working wages for its people; where homosexuality is illegal and a government which censors musicians and journalists for questioning its dictatorship rule, where does Cameroon’s future lie?

Lapiro De Mbanga: Rebel with a cause
Lapiro De Mbanga: Rebel with a cause

Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, who calls for peace in his latest song One Africa, said: “A song can get the message out there quicker than a political speech.” But it is the People’s Democratic Movement Party and Cameroon’s President since 1982, Paul Biya, who has censored musicians, jailed them and according to De Mbanga “tried to kill me twice” for messages in songs.

De Mbanga, who sang and rapped in pidgin – a mixture of English, French and local languages, has over 30 years of hits, which were regularly censored for their political themes. He gained millions of fans from a population frustrated and disenfranchised in their country.

It was 2008’s track Constitution Constipée (Constipated Constitution) that upset the powerful political party most. It criticised President Biya’s proposed constitutional amendment which would remove Cameroon’s two-term presidential limit, to allow Biya to stand for re-election.

Despite being banned by TV and radio, the song became an inspirational anthem among the student demographic who held protests pushing for reform. De Mbanga was blamed for his music influencing riots in which 40 people were killed and after an unfair trial he was jailed for three years.

Ndinga Man (Guitar man) / Voice of the Voiceless / Bard of Cameroon’s working class

The Danish-based NGO Freemuse (Freedom of Musical Expression) led an international campaign for De Mbanga’s release. In partnership with human rights activist Deeyah Khan and Grappa records, Freemuse released the album Listen to the Banned (2010) full of censored artists which featured Constitution Constipée. In an interview De Mbanga said: “If Freemuse hadn’t publicised my case worldwide, I’d have been dead long ago”.

Following his release from jail in 2011 De Mbanga produced more anti-Biya songs and in 2012 he received political asylum in the US.

A book De Mbanga began working on last year, The Planned Death of a Freedom Fighter, is set for release this year. Also due in 2014 is a film about the country’s censorship laws from exiled Cameroonian radio journalist Issa Nyaphaga. De Mbanga’s fight to expose corruption and speak up for the rights of the Cameroonian people lives on.

 

Beyoncé: Feminism through #Yoncisms

From Janet (1993) to Beyoncé (2013), the media response to female sexuality is horror.Beyoncé: Feminism through Yoncisms 

While the #bebossyandproud hashtag takes over #banbossy – Mrs. Carter has been the tour that Beyoncé, the boss, has been leading since 2013.

Beyoncé: The boss
Beyoncé: The boss

Her fifth release, a self-entitled visual album with 17 videos, swept the entertainment world when it was released unannounced in December.  Selling a record-breaking 828,773  copies in just three days, Beyoncé completely smashed the previous title holder for first-week sales on iTunes, Justin Timberlake, who sold a measly 580,000  in comparison for 20/20 Experience in March.

It became obvious that Beyoncé is the most forceful presence in pop music.  She always pays homage to her heroes and has said that the visual album was inspired by her memories of watching  Michael Jackson’s Thriller video premiere in 1983. 

She said: “I miss that immersive experience. Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods and they don’t really invest in the whole experience”.

It was  2009’s super anthem Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) that elevated Beyoncé to a superstar stratosphere. Toddlers did the Single Ladies dance and grandparents learned Beyoncé ‘s name. It also means that she has since been scrutinised more than ever for her image, her lyrics and her feminist credentials.

“I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.” – Beyoncé, British Vogue (May 2013)

But the feminism debate has meant that some other interesting themes on this album have been overlooked:

Beyonce’s breakthroughs  – losses and wins

#iwokeuplikethis

The album begins with  Beyoncé’s strive for perfection in Pretty Hurts and later Rocket and Flawless demonstrate  her becoming comfortable with who she is on the outside and in. A clip of her former group Girls Tyme losing a Star Search  competition  on TV in 1992 is sampled around Flawless to signify her failures and her hard work to succeed.

The penultimate track Heaven is also about loss, the video is based on one of her mother’s best friend’s passing.  The album is concluded with the gorgeous ballad Blue  about how Blue Ivy Carter – who features on the track – has changed Beyoncé’s life.

Aside from sexuality, the album affirms Beyoncé’s pride of Creole roots and of course her hometown Houston, Texas. Visual symbols of fire and trophies seem to be  key references in the videos which tie in with themes of failure, success and self acceptance in the music.

Beyoncé the Business Woman 

Surfboard/Watermelon

The new approach to this album dropping quietly was a risk. Since becoming a mother in 2012, Beyoncé has directed her  own documentary; performed at the Superbowl, sung for President Obama’s second inauguration and starred in Pepsi ads. The only hint of a new album was the premiere of Bow Down on Beyoncé’s website in July to announce the first leg of the Mrs. Carter Show tour.

With the album’s release, Beyoncé not only showed she was on the pulse with music but in tune with social media and brought out her own brand of Yoncisms.

The album is full of hashtag friendly buzz words. These are Yoncisms ready to be merchandised. Even Madonna has been pictured wearing one of the slogans.

Yoncism: a word used to describe your feelings like Beyoncé would describe hers.

#whatwouldbeyoncedo

beyonce merchandise
Bey Good: Merchandise

Yoncé is as good a businesswoman as she is a performer! Like the album, the Mrs. Carter Show is a visual feast and a hard-kicking , female dominating concert.

The Show

Since the album’s release, new songs have been added to the Mrs. Carter Show set-list.  The build-up begins with huge visual screens that light up and run a tour promo of Beyoncé  entering a court dressed in full Marie Antoinette regalia to a drum procession. A female band forms, marching onto the stage and finally the actual Beyoncé rises before the live audience to adulation. Her hand is firmly on her hip and her gaze is defiant to everyone.  She channels a superhero quality, dressed in her white bodice and thigh high boots as her blond locks flow magnificently in the wind. 

Beyoncé:  She has the (super)power

She could be anywhere from the UK to Japan –  she raises her fist as she launches into her anthem “Run the World (Girls)” and she rules over the only two men in the show – Les Twins the dancers.

While the lyrics on the album have been dissected to debate Beyoncé’s role model status and her previous apprehension at being labelled a feminist; the Mrs. Carter Show makes it clear what her beliefs are.  “We Should All Be Feminists“,  the TedxEuston talk from  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which Beyoncé samples for Flawless is blasted on stage and the lyrics flash bold on the screens.

“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDxEuston (April 2013)

Popstars like Beyoncé advocating control and independence  tend to face backlash when they express their sexual and relationship desires as a woman.  Janet Jackson went from Let’s Wait Awhile  to Anytime Anyplace to much of the same appalled, up-in-arms, shock-horror response by the media.

It’s interesting how despite a 20 year gap between Janet (1993) and Beyoncé (2013), the media response to females enjoying their sexuality – especially giving/expecting oral sex can result in a response of horror.

We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDxEuston (April 2013)

Beyoncé, much like Jackson created a name for herself associated with anthems for female empowerment and has now grown up to include singing about the joys of sex. While their journeys may be different it points to there being a very human connection between the struggles for womanhood, independence, love and desire. They are both good role models for singing about a woman’s worth and  for singing about sex.

They both bring empowerment to people no matter the gender or background.

Beyonce’s causes include CUFA (aids the education and development of children in Brazilian ghettoes); the Kolacho School of Hip Hop (removes gang members and rehabilitates them  through music and dance skills); Life Standard (supports children in Mexican orphanages)  and that’s just a fraction.

She donated her salary from Cadillac Records to  programmes for the Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol treatment centre after she visited them for research.

Find out more about her causes:

Beyonce Bey Good Chime for Change
Beyoncé: Bey Good

“Sisterhood means everything to me. All the charities I’m involved with are special, but I find any organization that focuses on women and children really motivating.” Beyonce, Self Magazine (August 2010)

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