Tag Archive | Culture

The Emporer’s Birthday Suit

This poem gives my  critique on those who are prententious enough to believe that poetry is like a puzzle which has to be  solved by the reader. This is in my opinion nothing more than sanctimonious self entitled drivel. If poetry is the art form I believe it to be, it is has to communicate a message to the reader or in spoken word form the listener and this has to be done in a way which the public both appreciate and understand. To those who say otherwise I have one uncompromising message and that message is this you are deluding yourselves and nobody cares what you think. Yes I’m afraid it really is that simple. It is my view that you if see art as elitist you are actually barking mad it isn’t that’s why it’s called free expression and it’s not just the politically conservative right  who have this view, some of the inverted snobbery I’ve heard from the psuedo socialist left with there poetry’s not for the likes of us drivel is absolutely death defyingly stupid and I have news for them you don’t speak for me nor have you ever done. Real socialists however know the power of art of whatever kind as a vehicle for social and political change and have never been frightened of using it in support of causes and campaigns. It is with this in mind I have written this poem which was titled The Emporer’s Birthday Suit by Scottish Slam runner up Leyla Josephine, I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Emporer’s Birthday Suit. 

To those who believe that poetry is a puzzle 

like a jigsaw or crossword 

which has to be solved by the reader 

I say only this 

if you wish to masturbate your ego

or want to play the hero

by showing the world how clever you are

go to a bar where you are the only customer 

nobody wants to know the thoughts 

that run round in circles in your empty head

there are some things which really are better left unsaid 

your art is not art if it can be understood by the working class chat

doesn’t impress me and exposes your writing as prententious crap 

art must be understood by those 

in the schemes 

it is not the preserve of the county set 

I think you forget that 

the designer of the employers new clothes 

had convinced the emporer to wear his birthday suit 

this was not a good look for a chilly day

now you believe you can wrap poetry in the same way 

the raffle prize of the elite 

the reward they get for completing their puzzle 

the trouble with this self entitled view 

is that you can’t hide the fact 

that if art of any kind is what you say 

it can never inspire others to create 

poetry should be accessible to all 

in your world only the ugly sisters would have got tickets to the ball 

whilst Cinderella would have known her place 

this pompous poetic snobbery 

can only lead to intellectual poverty

 it is exclusion by suggestive terminology 

 to which we are supposed to bow the knee 

not me my words are the tools I use 

to craft my thoughts in to poems 

my voice is my own

I suggest you stick to jigsaws

and keep the emporers birthday suit 

for a morning as frosty as your attutude 

© Gayle Smith 2018

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Swarm

As we draw ever closer to Christmas I’ve written this poem in support of those that the right wing press love to demonise as those bloody foreigners who if you were to believe these billionaire tax evaders are the source of all the problems in the United Kingdom.  Speaking as someone who supported Scotland leaving this moribund superstate and for that matter still does I wrote this to highlight these obscene beliefs  held by many of those who claimed we were better together and though mainly on the Conservative right they are not exclusively so.  I’ve given it the title Swarm a word so beloved by those on the ultra British right to describe those of different ethnic or cultural origin. I hope you enjoy what I think you’ll a thought provoking read. 

Swarm 

Our British existance is under attack 

let’s wrap ourselves in a union jack 

it’s time to take our country back

we have to start swotting this swarm 

I can’t speak Polish and I don’t do Syrian 

I want the great put back into Great Britain 

I couldn’t give a damn about Palestinians

I just want rid of this swarm 

Trust me my friend it’s an alien invasion

but a little blue passport will be your salvation 

it will give us inspiration 

on how to get rid of this swarm 

They come over here to milk the system 

because of our wonderful United Kingdom 

If all of them left we wouldn’t miss them 

we’d be well rid of the swarm 

They can’t speak the language 

we gave to our colonies 

there a threat to our empire and our democracy

yet the Jocks all say we’ll die in poverty

Maybe they are part of the swarm

I read this bile every day in the press 

 It’s part of the reason I voted yes 

I know global citizens who’ve achieved great success 

since making a home among us 

So as I say this I do it with pride

In Scotland all have a place to bide 

unlike the Brits we’re on your side 

and proud to be part of the swarm.

© Gayle Smith 2017 

The Fan Who Got Lucky 

Yesterday would have been the birthday of one of Celtic’s true greats and this poem pays tribute to the flame haired genius that was is and ever shall be Tommy Burns. Tommy was in my opinion one of the most accomplished midfielders in the game and he had the best left foot of any player in Scotland. Whilst his talents spoke for him on the park off the park Tommy shunned the fame so loved by others and preferred to spend time with his family and friends. A devout Chtistian Tommy practiced his faith and was a member of Christians in sport an organisation which gives support to Christians in the sporting professions. Most of all however Tommy was born within the sound of Celtic Park where entertained a generation of fans for almost his entire career. If ever a player was born to wear the hoops that player was Tommy Burns I’ve titled it with his own words on describing what it meant to be a Celt those words were The Fan Who Got Lucky. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Fan Who Got Lucky

Born in the Gallowgate 

A local boy he was in his own words

the fan who got lucky

with his flame red hair 

he was easy to spot on the park 

though his silky skills were what really set him apart 

from his contemporaries 

well that and the best left foot of any midfielder of his generation

 the master craftsmen was the inspiration 

for many a Celtic victory 

the perfect ambassador for our club 

on and off the pitch 

he wore the colours with dignity

and was proud to wear the hoops 

he had first worn as a fan 

 he knew what they represented and always will

the attacking style of his heroes

 was perfectly suited to his skills

his twists and turns showed a poet using a football

like his namesake used a pen 

to create his art

the Celtic number six played his part 

in our golden legacy 

he was taken from us far too early

now he rests with Jinky, and Mr Stein

our evergreen fan who got lucky

and gave us a treasure trove of memories 

Tommy knew what it meant to be Celtic 

his  football philosophy grounded

in faith and fairness 

both of which were part of the man he was 

a fisher of men who led by the example he set 

It is fitting his birth should have been in the season of advent 

and the arrival of the lord 

in whom he placed his trust 

in every way Tommy Burns was one of us 

and we will never forget

the cherished moments gifted to us

by the local boy who really was 

 the fan who got lucky 

© Gayle Smith 2017

Runrig For Millennials

This poem was inspired by a comment from my friend and flatmate Janette whilst we were watching at my insistence the Scottish Traditional Music Awards (aka #NaTrads) On  seeing the band Tidelines and being more impresed than she thought she would by them (It has to be said traditional music is not Janette’s usaul area) she claimed they were the world’s first Gaelic boyband. It has to be said that this set me thinking and I’ve written this poem which I’ve titled Runrig For Millennials. I came up with this title purely because of the enduring popularity of Runrig over the years and I can assure you it has nothing to with the looks in which Tidelines definitely have the edge I hope you enjoy the read. 

Runrig For Millennials 

I  saw them at Na Trads

my flatmate called them a gaelic boyband

they can sing in two languages

stardom beckons within the traditional music world

and if enough girls follow them

they could be Runrig for millennials 

shining a light on the future

with songs for the 21st century

with positive progressive lyrics

and an identity shaped for the modern age

they will help to make our ancient language

relevant for a new generation

multi culturalism isn’t just confined

to gaining knowledge of Polish or Arabic

sometimes it can be found closer to home

in the understanding of our own language, culture, and traditions

so often mocked by those who beg for privilege 

and call our culture feinian talk

the colonials who walk in the loyal marching season

give no reason for their misplaced allegiance

I question why they give their loyalty to another country

but ugly shouting as all they’ve got 

meanwhile a new band shows the way forward

promoting understanding through stories told in songs

they cannot change the wrongs

of a past written before they were born

but instead tell the stories of this time 

their time to shine

like the stars you see

shining on a hebrideen sunset 

© Gayle Smith 2017

Irn Bru And Optimism

On St Andrew’s Day I thought it only fair to take what I hope is a light hearted look at my country which I love in spite of its flaws and in some cases maybe even because of them. I’ve given it the title Irn Bru And Optimism I hope you enjoy the read. 

Irn Bru And Optimism 

Irn Bru and optimism 

limits placed on my ambition

Calvinism, and Sunday schools

a land of far too many rules 

Scenary and shortbread tins

national teams that nearly win

McIlvanney, Morgan, Lochhead 

inspired me to write my Scotland 

Telling stories through my poetry 

remembering tales my granny told me

of Jimmy Reid and John MacLean 

Scots and socialists worth the name

Spoken word and traditional songs. 

It doesn’t matter where your from

Govan , Maybole , Tain, Dumbarton

even Cumnock’s got some talent.

So on our nation’s national day

I’ve only thing left to say 

let’s place no limits on our ambitions

and toast Irn Bru and Optimism 

© Gayle Smith 2017

As I Get Older Death Stalks My Poetry 

As yet more well known faces from my childhood and teenage years go to their final resting place David Cassidy being perhaps the most surprising of them I am beginning to think that death is stalking my poetry. Whether it be celebrities or those closer to home I have noticed the increase in the number of memorial poems I have written in the last 18 months or so. It doesn’t escape my attention that what was once a once in a blue moon occurrence is now becomming a far more regular one. This is I think one of the inevitable consequences of aging and it is for this reason I have written this poem which I have tiled As I Get Older Death Stalks My Poetry. I hope you enjoy the read. 

As I Get Older Death Stalks My Poetry 
As I get older death stalkes my poetry 

I remember those gone from this realm 

who in some way shaped me with beliefs rooted in values

 friends,  family members , and occasionsl celebrities

 all played a part in building  the identity

of the woman you’ve come to know 

I am like most others the combination of two parts 

the private which only real friends will see 

and the public which is or at least can be put on for show. 

If I view my life through the scrapbook of my memories 

I know I am no longer as young as I would like to be 

music has claimed icons  from my teens 

stolen dreams I thought I’d keep forever 

I dont know if there really is life on mars 

and will be till the twelfth of never 

but I realise the world has lost a star man and a daydreamer 

and Saturday night stars from television screens 

have also been taken from our view

as my dad once claimed fame is only temporary 

a glimpse into the promised land of others normality 

the wealthy have an every day reality 

far removed from those in the schemes

only in heaven will ever know equality

in Scotland the gap between wealth and poverty gets wider 

due to the British class system remaining in place 

the priviliged are never challenged 

and always get more than their share

I despair of a  society which has never been good at rocking boats 

sitting uncomfortably and accepting their lot

this Scot comes from a family of fighters 

but many lights have gone out in the last few years 

I know one day mine will also cease to shine 

meanwhile I attempt to make the best 

of whatever days or years I have remaining 

when I see injustice I will be complaining loudly 

when a cause I believe in needs supporting I will do it proudly 

when my friends need me I will not be wanting 

the ghosts of my past will not need to haunt me 

in the darkest of nights 

now a poet I fight with the deadliest weapon of all

and as I write between sips of coffee 

I realise that as I get older 

like an unwelcome visitor 

death stalkes my poetry 

stealing my memories 

which she adds to my chain of life 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

 

The Cultural Manifesto Of A  Man Who Speaks For Fairness ( A Review Of Freedom By Matt Panesh)

In the comfort of the cinema room in my favourite Edinburgh bar on a busy festival Friday I did something I’ve been doing for the last eight years and I allowed myself to be entertained by the cheeky chappie of the Edinburgh fringe Matt Panesh. Matt aka Monkey Poet is always on my must see list and this year’s show was no different. In fact the fact  that Matt made it known that this would be his last full run after nine successive years of entertaining the crowds at the fringe eight of them at the Banshee Labyrinth often with two full snows made it if anything all the more important to see a man who over the years has become a valued member of my fringe family. 

For this year’s show Matt (pictured below) departed from his usual monkey poet style ramblings I’ve come to know and enjoy and instead was just Matt Panesh. However I should perhaps explain that there is no such thing as just Matt Panesh. Trust me, this guy is a consummate performer and an excellent storyteller who knows how to engage his audience right from the get go. 

Picture (Matt Panesh on stage in the Cinema Room of The Banshee Labyrinth)

The topic for this show entitled Freedom, was the fringe and what the idea of fringe theatre means to him .  In his opening line which marked the start of an hour of top quality entertainment Matt reminded us that the Edinburgh festival wás celebrating its 70th birthday this year as it was born from the rubble of the Second World War when the people of Britain and Europe needed something to cheer them up after the horrors of the most brutal conflict in human history in which 60 million people died. Matt however had a reason to be grateful for the war as his Polish and Russian grandparents who  met in an Austrian refugee camp and married in Italy and had to cross the alpes twice before eventually settling in Britain  would never have got together otherwise. It is due to the story I’ve just related that Matt has never told told his grandmother it’s a long way to the shops. 

Having given the audience an insight in to his own background Matt then went to inform us of the reason that the festival came to Edinburgh rather any other British or European city. The reasoning was simple Edinburgh wás the only one which hadn’t been blown to bits by the ravages of war and so the biggest arts festival wás born.

Matt then gave us his unique take on how he started doing fringes and he started in not in Edinburgh but in Canada, and Canadian fringes are a wee bit different to Scottish or UK festivals. You see in Canada the fringes aren’t held in big cities like Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal, but in small towns  like Winnipeg where the culture comes to visit for two weeks a year and then disappears again for the rest of the year. It was during this time of doing festivals in Canada and the USA Matt began to realise the benefits of having what the locals would call an exotic accent but also saw for himself the benefits of what culture can do for the economy of particular geographic locations. 

As an established regular performer  on the Edinburgh scene Matt spoke with passion on what we have come to know as the free fringe which celebrated its 22nd birthday and without which he and countless other performers couldn’t afford to bring their shows to be part of the festival. Gradually Matt became more involved with the free fringe and along with Fay Roberts programs the spoken word section of it. This as he told us is rewarding but not without potential hazards but as he rightly says it saves performers a fortune as they get the venues for free and any money they make from public donations is their own and with all the premises for the free fringe given free by local Edinburgh businesses it brings a host of performers to the city who would not otherwise be able to attend the event.

In being so directly involved with the free fringe Matt has seen for himself the benefits that it can bring to the area in terms of both tourism and finance and is therefore a staunch supporter of this kind of festival and the platform it can provide for the creative arts. Having relocated from Manchester to the coastal town of Morecambe after last year’s fringe Matt found that opportunities for potential nights out were a wee bit limited as the place he now called home didn’t have any spoken word venue and there wasn’t a single comedy club anywhere in the town. However,  those of you who know Matt will also know he is if nothing else a man brimming with ideas and after thinking about this cultural dilemma he faced he started sounding out local venues and businesses about the idea of a fringe festival in Morecambe. After an initially cautious reaction Matt told us how he won them round to the idea by persuading them of the economic advantages both for the town and the wider geographic area. 

Initially this year’s  Morecambe fringe which started tonight will be a weekend affair with it expanding to a week  long event next year. Being the cheeky and persuasive  chappie I know he  can be , it came as no surprise to me that  he even managed to convince Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn,( on whom by  his own admission he has an enormous man crush) of the merits of his brainchild which he says will be run on a small scale version of the Edinburgh model. 

At the end of a journey through time, culture, and history Matt said he  might as well finish with a poem and asked the audience which poem he should do. Knowing his work better than most people in attendance I suggested Understanding, which Matt said he has since retitled How To Be Patriotic Without Sounding  Like A White Supremasist in response to the rise of far right parties like The BNP and UKIP. This uplifting poem sets out Matt’s vision of a Britain for everyone and more than any other poem sums up the cultural manifesto of a man who speaks for fairness  

Till next time.

Gayle X