Tag Archive | Friendship

The Alt Right Claim That Snowflakes Are Delicate Little Creatures But The Truth Is They Are The Delicate Ones When You Look At Their Fragile Beliefs 

 Earlier this month it was my privilege to be part of a very interesting and very lively night at Extra Second. Well when the subject is philosophy it is shall we say bound to lead to a lot of stimulating discussion and debate and that was certainly the case on this occasion. 

Being more in the tradition of a philosophy cafe than a normal spoken word event was a significant departure from tradition for Extra Second you were allowed to challenge performers during their set and I faced one such challenge from an audience member with regards to my poem Snowflake. 

On finishing the poem I was quizzed by a very charming and polite middle class twenty something  male who asked if he could ask me a question on the poem. I said that I had no objection to him asking whatever he wished and I would attempt to answer him in the correct and proper way As I gave the floor to my inquistor I steadied myself in readiness for his take on my poem. 

My questionner asked that since I had inferred that the Alt Right referred to the those on the liberal left as Snowflakes and implied that we were delicate little creatures was is not hypocritical of me to then say towards the end of the poem that the Alt Right were in fact snowflakes and they were the delicate little creatures or was he misunderstanding my poem. 

I replied that he had indeed misunderstood the context of the poem as to get it you have to understand the psychology of the bully and why they not only fear change they are actually terrified of it.  This is why I referred to them as delicate little creatures because as soon as you put them under any sort of pressure they fold like a piece of paper . I went on to say that these people like to intimidate others but are not so keen when the groups concerned fight back and use the same assertive tactics on them and as long as there are racists, homophobes, transphobes and those who discriminate against others on the grounds on factors such as disability, gender, or anything else they think they can think of to make themselves relevant then I will continue to call them out for there actions. 

Having been challenged on my first poem I must to being genuinely shocked that I wasn’t challenged on my poem Mirrors Of Time as it showed both empathy to a younger poet who was experiencing what he described as his political puberty and also how my political views have changed over time. 

If lack of a challenge on that poem was surprising it was an even greater shock not to be questioned on my final contribution which was a very personal blog post written to celebrate the 21st birthday of a certain blogger to whom I have become very close. I say this was a shock as being a poet this was a massive step out of my comfort zone.  To be honest I would have welcomed challenges on both these pieces as this could have led to a tough but enjoyable cross examination of how I’ve evolved over time as friends would have taken the opportunity to ask about the events that shaped the changes in my thinking which both pieces illustrate. Indeed I would have been happy to take questions on them. 

That said however it seems that those in the audience got those changes from the context in which the pieces were set and only Snowflake caused anyone to misunderstand the meaning of what was being said.  This I must admit baffled me as I thought it was easily the most relatable topic of the three I had time to cover but it seems that someone who appears to be on the pro unionist right of the political spectrum didn’t get the fact that those they call snowflakes may not be quite as delicate as they would like to think and the fragility of their own beliefs may mean that in reality, the Alt Right are in fact far more delicate than those they choose to mock. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

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Daughters Of The Muse 

As regular readers will know, I  am a spoken word poet and early last August I was proud to be part of an event which though I didn’t know it at the time would completely change my life. The event in question was  women with fierce words in which those participating were encouraged to bring a fierce word to the Scottish Poetry Library to describe something relating to the poem they had chosen to read. This event then took on a life of its own as we became a fierce tribe and now just over a year later we have collated the poems of the day into an anthology and on Monday Lesley Traynor who was the driving force behind the event was interviewed on the Janice Forsyth show on Radio Scotland. In this poem which I have titled Daughters Of The Muse I give my reaction to the interview and the pride I feel on  being part of this wonderfully talented group of women . I hope you enjoy the read. 
Daughters Of The Muse 

A woman is interviewed 

about a new poetry collection

which the interviewer called
an exciting new development

before asking how it came about 

the women replied it was the result a challenge

to produce a piece of art in a day 

needless to say she rose to the occasion

and inspiration struck 

she asked poets to bring a  fierce word 

to the courtyard of the Scottish Poetry Library 

a word which empowered them

 or made them feel good about themselves 

as a starting place to introduce their poem

though all poets were invited only women replied 

what began as an event quickly morphed into a tribe 

as sisterhood showed its power

friendships forged that Friday afternoon

have matured and blossomed as we’ve celebrated each success

from Emma’s novel  to the launch of  Carla’s spoken word event 

we are not the type of women to rest on laurels 

we are daughters of the muse 

as we proved when we signed fierce words on canvas 

to become our art 

our creation 

we are an inspiration to others 

who will follow in our paths 

and now we have this collection 

as a memory of the day  

a day we tackled the task of rising to the challenge we faced 

and accomplished it by making  words our art 

@ Gayle Smith 2017

Other Voices

A long time ago in a haunted banqueting hall I promised Fay Roberts a poem. For those of you who don’t know who Fay Roberts is allow me to culturally enlighten you.  You see not only is Fay a valued mentor and friend, she also hosts Other Voices every year at the PBH free fringe and Other Voices which gives a platform to LGBT and other performers who are under represented on the bills on mainstream poetry nights is one of my favourite spoken word events not  just at the Edinburgh fringe but anywhere. So with this in mind  I made Fay a promise to write a poem to say in  my words what other voices means to me and I’m delighted to say that promise has now been honoured with this poem which strangely enough entitled Other Voices I hope you enjoy the read. 

Other Voices

Other voices 

far away from mainstream stages

come see us performing without fear 

poets who identify as LGBT 

some who proclaim boldly 

their queer or non binary status,

love us or hate us come and see us first 

before making your decision on how we should be perceived

we have stories to share with you

some of which you would never believe

listen to our words let us woo you 

with our tales of adventure, heartbreak, love, and lust 

place your trust in us to be your guides

in the majestic underground cave 

that is our spiritual home 

at this crazy time of year

come and see us perform without fear

far away from mainstream stages 

hear the sage advice that you will never give yourself  

it may even be good for your mental health 

and make you start a poetic journey of your own 

on the other hand you might just become 

a regular audience member 

we have no agenda except to entertain 

listen to us seduce  your ears with sentences 

rapped with rhyme and reason 

and delivered with the rhythm method 

we will pepper the air with salty phrases

if the need arises

 but should that be the case 

 it will be done with style 

we will make you think, cry and smile

 as we provide you with an hour of fun filled frivolity

in the banqueting hall of Madame Fay’s boudoir 

and when you see the brightest stars

the stars that  will dance but never lie 

when you are mesmerised by  them in an evening sky 

long after the show you came to see 

you will hear the cry of the banshee

and when you least expect it 

 you will remember us 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Founders Of The Feast 

On a lovely summer Saturday it was my privilege to, attend a poetry themed barbecue in honour of the world’s worst  poet otherwise known as William Topaz McGonagall. This annual event now in its 12th year is hosted by my good friends Colin and Irene Storrie who every year open their hearts and open their home for a fantastic day of poetry, music, and friendship where having celebrated the best poet in the world at our Burns Suppers in January we can focus on commemorating the self styled worst poet in the world who even on our worst days can make every one us look like a genius. That’s why I dedicate this year’s McGonagall poem to them. I’ve given it the title Founders Of The Feast I hope  you enjoy the read.  

Founders Of The Feast 

​It is one of my favourite my summer traditions 

In the land we call the United Kingdom of Great Britain 

as we gather together the many and not the few 

to have good food and companionship 

and enjoy a very sociable barbecue

   
It is always great fun, but I cannot deny 

that sometimes it is not just the food which will be grilled or fried 

as the natives of our land have a tendency get very badly burned 

when we see that big yellow object 

which is know by  metrologists and weather forecasters as the sun 

 This is however, not something about which we should complaining

as in Scotland and the United Kingdom Of Great Britain 

the weather has a nasty habit of raining 

If this is the Almighty’s idea of a summer joke 

I do not find it funny as many of out citizens 

could get caught in a downpour and end up getting soaked. 

This I fear would not be very good 

however I hope it would not spoil their day or stop them enjoying their food 

for that would be a very great shame 

especially at the poets barbecue 

which every year since 2006 

has been held to celebrate the honour of my name. 

This barbecue is not held in the Magdalene Green or the fair city of Dundee

Nor even in Edinburgh the city that gave birth to the poetic genius I was born to be 

it takes place in the heart of Glasgow’s East End 

and founded by most uniquely talented collection of friends

it is however to the founders of the feast 

I must now proclaim my gratitude

though I have heard said they prefer good companions

 to a diet of well meant  platitudes 

but alas as the my story has now reached it’s end 

I ask you to raise your glasses 

and toast, Irene , Colin, and the company of  friends.  

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Glasgow Boy 

On day 30 I reach the end of my third NaPoWriMo with a poem in tribute to the late Scottish folk singer Ian Davison who  died on Christmas day last year after a battle with illness.I first got to know Ian at a Songwriting workshop in the summer of 1995 and over the years he became a regular guest musician at the Words and Music event I now host. It is therefore fitting that I post my last poem of this year’s NaPoWriMo in honour of his friendship and his memory. I hope I’ve  done justice to a fine singer and songwriter and a gentleman I am proud to have called a friend. I have titled the poem Glasgow  Boy I hope you enjoy the read. 

Glasgow Boy 

 
A man I knew well 

a friendship formed through mutual friends and music 

Ian was a Glasgow boy 

whose clydeside roots were rooted in internationalism

his socialism flavoured songs 

 written with hope for a better world 

he saw Mandela dance 

and said there was room for us all 

as lyrics told  stories of hogmaney parties 

and the welcome we give to others 

reminding us to have a dram 

and raise a glass to friends and neighbours .

both at home and overseas 

Maryhill or McKinleyville 

it mattered not to a proud Scot 

and even prouder global citizen 

with a mission for peace 

ring fenced by a red heart and a CND membership card 

this was a man who marched in October 1982

and even the man in the Whitehouse knew 

knew the power in his songs 

as did an innocent man 

in the jails of echolon 

on whose case he educated me 

now at last his body free from pain 

I can listen to the Glasgow boy 

wrapped in the warmth of memories 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Slice Of Faith 

​On day 16 of NaPoWriMo I celebrate Easter Sunday and the inevitable chocolate feast which marks the end of lent. Those of you who know me well will  know that I not only have a strong Christian faith you will also know that  I am a chocoholic. Therefore it  will not come as a  shock to know that I dived straight in to the Easter Eggs almost as soon as the clock told me the time had come to do so.

 Truth be told I   waited less than five minutes before consuming  my first chocolate in six  long weeks (Yes Jamie-Lee I did take the Paddy’s Day amnesty but that’s allowed) and for that to be my only chocolate in six weeks is I think proof that far from being dead, the age of miracles is alive, well , and living in 21st Century Scotland. However , it wasn’t the chocolate eggs that got my tastebuds moving it was the greatest conception known to humankind aka The Blue Chair Brownie and it was when I was enjoying that culinary delight at our monthly spoken word Sunday that I knew lent was finally over for another year. I’ve given this poem the title Slice Of Faith I hope you enjoy the read. 
Slice Of Faith 
When the clock struck midnight

and  Easter Sunday had arrived 

I knew the saviour had risen 

so I think he would have forgiven me 

for only waiting three minutes 

before a cream egg broke 

my six week chocolate fast 

there was no way could I have lasted till after church 

this had to be done at the earliest possible chance 

but it wasn’t the early Easter eggs

which made my tastebuds dance 

that came in the  afternoon 

when I tasted heaven without bread and wine 

the sublime blue chair Brownie 

lingered on my lips 

briefly I thought of my hips 

and the damage this could do

but as I looked at the plate 

I knew the wait was over 

my sacrifice made 

I could now enjoy my favourite temptation 

served up with a slice of faith

 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Lessons 

On day 3 of NaPoWriMo it is time for a political poem and it may not come as too much of a shock that the  topic of choice is independence. What may however be a bit of a surprise is that the tone of the poem comes as a warning to yes supporters to learn the lessons of history to avoid repeating the mistakes and indeed disappointments of 2014. In this poem I urge our supporters to offer the hand of friendship to those voters who voted no in 2014 and set about winning them over to Yes and winning a better Scotland because of it. I have given it the title  Lessons I hope you enjoy the read 
Lessons
If Scotland is ever to see the day 

when we become an independent self governing nation 

we must learn the lessons of the last campaign 

we cannot afford to win the day 

and lose the future 

economics may be not my seducer 

but it is effective for many 

and that penny needs to drop  

we have to recognise its power 

or the flower of Scotland will never truly bloom 

our country will not be won 

by slogans, clipboards, and demonstrations 

though they will play a part 

we must use the head and speak from the heart 

be inclusive of all communities 

and not be afraid of tackling deeply held prejudices 

amongst our own supporters 

as to why we think the way we do 

this will be a challenge 

but it has to be faced 

we can’t simply wish it away 

and hope our opponents are magically cured 

of the loyalties which bind them to  union 

this is why we never won last time 

we need to engage and say clearly and with honestly 

we can offer no guarantees 

but neither can our opponents 

and we need to call them out 

when they claim otherwise 

there are no such thing as certainties 

to pretend that the present is set in stone 

is not the solution 

we were told we would never leave 

the European Union 

yet Brexit and the isolation it will bring 

will turn us more selfish and right wing

as gradually the UK becomes ever more insular 

with xenophobia masked as the new patriotism 

this is a vision I do not share 

I despair that our civic Scotland will be under threat 

and every word we say will be scrutinised 

the smears and lies have already started 

winning the future is not a job for the faint hearted 

we have to offer the hand of friendship 

to those who voted no in 2014 

not accuse them of killing our dreams 

in moments of anger and frustration 

it is too easy to throw about words like independence and nation 

without explaining why we would better than Westminster 

at running our own affairs 

I want to live in a country that cares 

for our most vulnerable citizens 

not a United Kingdom based on wealth patronage and privilege 

that’s why my identity is Scottish not British

I don’t want to live a land which still fantasises  

about a past when they called other countries colonies 

whilst keeping their own people poor in the name of empire 

 telling them they should be proud 

they couldn’t feed their families 

I don’t want to live in a country 

where people are devalued due to race , religion , gender or sexuality 

where diversity is demonised 

and difference is viewed with fear 

to me  these kind of attitudes

are barriers to the progressive society 

I’ve always believed in 

I know there will be some in both the SNP and yes

who will be uncomfortable with me 

because of the way I dress 

and the fact I am a woman with a trans past 

but I’m prepared to take the chance

 that our very different versions of what independence should mean 

will be keenly contested in elections in which Scotland’s voters matter 

as for now I’ll accept them as allies 

in defeating the spin and patter 

coming from unionists with agendas 

the way the Tories have been behaving 

they might as well start singing no surrender or Rule Britannia

or giving pensioners free photographs of Margaret Thatcher

rather than trying to pretend 

they give a damn about our country 

we need to debate them on the issues

we need to win ugly 

by convincing those voters who are willing to listen 

that Britain belongs in the past 

though I admit it  may have been good for some 

 this battle needs won 

not for Auld Lang Syne 

nor memories of old 

we’ve got to be bold for the future generations

those growing up 

and others still to see the day 

it is their future that’s at risk 

we can , we must, we will do better than this 

when we learn our lessons 

the future will be ours. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017