Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Blog: HATE ISLAND: Why watching an episode of 'Love Island' could help you deal with Brexit...








HATE ISLAND

Bit like life really...

WHY WATCHING AN EPISODE OF ITV'S 'LOVE ISLAND' COULD HELP YOU TO COMPREHEND THE POLITICAL CHAOS, THE BREXIT DEBATE, THE SHADOW CABINET COUP, THE APATHY OF NON-VOTERS, THE RISE IN RACISM AND INTOLERANCE, THE SLOW ERASURE OF ART AND BOOKS AND CREATIVITY, THE STEADY DISINTEGRATION OF KINDNESS AND HUMANITY IN THE HEART OF ENGLAND'S IMMAGINATION IN JUNE IN THE YEAR 2016...

I have a confession to make, I've been watching that reality show 'Love Island'.
Oh come on. Give me a break, the news is bad, the world is bad, the shit has hit the fan...and the other day I was watching telly and this escapist window of sunshine just opened up to me. Don't turn over. Just look at it. Watch it. Let the sickly stupidity suck you in. Gaze upon it's dreamy Mediterranean blue skies, cool turquoise swimming pool, sun-drenched, magazine-perfect bodies. And look at all those lovely bums.

'Love Island' is a sociological experiment, an exploration of human nature. As I watch I'm engrossed in the conflict between the surface and the unsaid, camouflaged as banter. I'm convinced if I pay attention and watch it carefully enough I will be able to decipher the depth of it's layers and deep hidden meanings. I think this programme is telling me something about the dislocation of connectivity, the degringolade of humanity. More importantly some clues to where we went wrong and where we are going next? It feels like I'm pressing my nose up to the factory window to see how the big machine works and how the cogs turn. It is Orwellian - but George could never have predicted we'd be the idiots holding the camera, filming ourselves, betraying our own agendas, filtering and censoring ourselves, gagging for attention and longing to be important enough to be liked and watched.

'Love Island' is an exploration into the psyche of the modern human condition. This is the instruction manual, a map to the truth and the aspirations of the average English 18-25 year old. You want to understand why we got a Brexit? Watch this - Here is the empty-headed and apathetic explained and exposed. This is a show fuelled on the fetishism of being young, able bodied and free. Unencumbered and uninspired. It is all about surface popularity and looks, the intention to triumph, to suppress fear of being unloved or unpopular. Following 'Love Island' has explained everything I ever needed to know about 'Generation Brexit' or GREXIT or CUNTIT or FUCKIT and this disastrous and intolerable shit creek we all find ourselves paddling in right now. With our bare hands. And no paddle. And no boat. And no creek. Just shit.

For those of you who haven't watched 'Love Island' let me recap. Ok. The premise for this show is as genius as it is simple and vague. It is a reality show a bit like Bear Grylls 'The Island' but instead of survival, these contestants just have to love each other. Simple. Bit like life really...

But on Bear Grylls 'The Island' the group were marooned on a desert island and forced to not just survive, but to thrive. Through trial and error they built shelters, hunted animals, gathered food and fire wood, and learned to keep that fire alight so they could keep warm and boil vital drinking water. The team starved and poisoned themselves with stagnant pond water until they hallucinated, vomited and shat themselves. We gasped as they ate limpets and drank their own piss. We watched alpha males have temper tantrums, we saw the control freaks weep. And we watched resourceful and powerful women capture and kill wild animals, tearing at the flesh hungrily like ancient goddess cavewomen. This show reminded us how vulnerable we are. How water and fire is at the centre of everything we need. You know a bit like love and hope.

Now the complete opposite is true of 'Love Island'. The contestants have to survive by being pretty vacant, vacuous and good looking. It is worth mentioning the group are predominantly caucasian, this is a mostly white-people show. A bit like life in rural England really.

On 'Love Island' food and shelter is all five star luxury. They have nothing to fight for but being the prettiest or most desired. The team starve and poison themselves with stagnant ideas of what love and beauty are. We watch alpha males have temper tantrums competing for ownership of prize females. We have control freaks competing to sustain their placing in a couple. The programme is pretty much based on manipulation, shit stirring and pissing competitions to keep your bed, territory and mate. There seems to be no leadership. It's a free for all. Nobody seems to be in charge. A bit like Parliament right now...

The Love Islanders have been voted in and chosen because the voyeuristic public wants to watch the beautiful and the damned do sex on telly. Bottom line, look at the bums go up and down! Roll up roll up, come see a pair of human specimens mate! It is a human zoo. We can tune in every night to see primates in their natural environment: a replica of a stag-do in Magaluf. The name of the game is 'Love Island' and the aim of the game is to make love. When I started watching I presumed the winner would be the one with the biggest heart, the one that loves the most, that all that was required is that they LOVE each other. All they have to do is make love, sweet love... Just like life really.

LOVE. ISLAND. LOVE. The clue is in the name. Get it?
And are they happy? Are they loving? Are they loved up?
No. They are more like prison cell mates in a bizarre straight couple prison. I saw Galapagos tortoise in captivity at London Zoo with more spirit and fight and individuality. They haven't even broken the mould of pairing up in vanilla heterosexual couples. No. Threesomes. No. Same sex. No. Orgies. No. Nothing like that. They have the freedom to do ANYTHING and they do NOTHING... but back stab each other, a bit like...

And they don't read books. Are they allowed books? I don't know but the Love Island aliens don't read. They don't draw or write or play guitar or paint or sketch or compose or invent anything. Who are these uninspiring people? Where do they come from? They work out, pump iron, keep fit and build core strength. You see them talk behind each others back. They chain smoke and have banal insecure discussions about who is going to crack on with who. And then once they have decided who they will crack on with, they switch the lights off and have under-the-duvet sex in front of the other contestants. The sex looks really bad. In and out sex, and in and out, and up and down sex. Bumbling and fumbling under the duvet in missionary position. It looks like 1950's sex. Just like some of the people's arguments for backing Brexit. Then they bicker. Loads and loads of arguments about nothing. But I don't understand...How can a person survive without reading any fucking books? Who are these people? Where did they find these aliens? How can anyone go three whole weeks without reading a book or at least writing something, creating something, without making something magic happen, without expression and passion. I suspect that the Love Islanders are robots made to distract us.

If this programme were made in the summer of 1967 surely the contestants would be dropping LSD and smoking pot and loving the free love, the colours and psychedelics, getting naked and having a massive orgy by now. If this programme were made in 1987 they would be necking E and raving and hugging and loving the rainbow shit out of each other. This is 2016 and they are self-tanning, manicuring, eyebrows on fleek, preening and hair-straightnering each other to death.

So now you know how the Brexit happened.

Apathy. People are sleep walking. I worry that people have stopped looking for the signs, the magic and the colours. The glorious possibilities in the universal connections we all share. The connectivity we all feel in our hands and roots and old blood. 

Did you see these results? Did you see how many people didn't or couldn't even use their vote. Writing this, I don't even remember why we had a referendum to leave the EU in the first place. I have forgotten why it was even on the table. But I'm now mostly afraid that we will be given a PM that nobody wants, that none of us elected or voted for. And that is some scary bollocks. Is this true? This pie chart? If so, wtf! The majority can't vote. Can't won!





People with no wings don't want anyone else to fly. But your wings are your dreams, your real passport is your soul man, the borders and walls are all an illusion, the world is round and wide open, just open your mind, man. This earth is for all of us. We need to work on that 'them' and 'us' negative phrasing. Don't get sucked in.

Apathy is the killer. People sitting on their arses letting the internet echo chamber do the thinking for them. Retweeting articles without checking the stats and facts, shit stirrers, war stirrers, spinners, click baiters and parrots - This is how Brexit won. This is what happens. This is why people believed Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. Jokers. I read that Boris and Nigel didn't even think they'd win they were just stirring things up. You know, for jokes, to get at Cameron! You guys! LOL! 

But this is how come 'Love Island' gets one hour on primetime television a night. One whole hour a night, every night. The politicians have been lying to all us. God forbid they broadcast our truth slayers, our brave hearts, our thinkers, our philosophers, our scientists, our musicians, artists and poets on television at this time. No. That would encourage free and open debate and people getting excited and inspired to vote and think for themselves. No. Come on. Give the public lots of football 'Big Brother' and 'Love Island' with sexy girls in skimpy bikinis. Our parliament is collapsing. World War Three. The darkest of times. Sedate the public. Television is opium. Quick! Feed them sports and arses and tits. All designed to make you feel that it is all impossible, that you should mistrust your neighbour, that it is all over, that the rich 1% are winning, that the right-wing have a good chance, that your dreams of equality are done, that hope is dead, that there is no point. They want us to argue among ourselves...divide and conquer.

Now is the time to gather, to listen, to dream bigger and fight harder, to protest and march and speak out. It is tempting to run, leave the country, but I am staying here in England because it is my home. I for one refuse to give up. I also refuse to climb on a slippy surf board and ride this shit wave of negativity. I won't stop loving people, talking to strangers, people are funny, that won't ever change.

I know one fact: There are more good people than bad people. There is more love than hate. And you will find tolerance and kindness as you travel up and down this country. England is not Hate Island. Yes. There are opportunists. Small minded bigots and ignorant idiots who will want to use this Brexit win as a win for fascism. Racist abuse has escalated since Thursday. My friends social media is filled with trolls and absurd 'Alf Garnet' style 'Go back to your own country...' type abuse. On twitter follow #PostRefRacism and thank those that voted for Mr Johnson and Mr Farage for the extreme nutters coming out of the woodwork.

I reckon this is all a win for apathy and a generation that 'can't be bovvered'... We need to inspire people to be part of the change, to speak up and stand up. We are under a shadow. Above us is a cloud, and like all the clouds before, this cloud will pass, and you and I will walk in the sunshine again. We have a lot of work to do together now, we need to repair our sails, there are so many questions, but love, love is the answer.

Twitter Poem by Salena Godden



GIGS, FESTIVALS AND PARTIES:

June 29th: Soapbox Poetry, The John Peel Centre, Stowmarket

July 9th: The Roundhouse, Camden, London


July 15th: BookSlam with PJ Harvey and Tracy Thorn


July 23rd: Festival 23  

August 4th: William Morris Gallery, London


August 18th: Neu Reekie, Edinburgh International Book Festival


September 2-4th: Churchtown, Cornwall

October tbc: Cheltenham Literary Festival

October 12-15: Durham Literary Festival

October 19th: Manchester Literary Festival





Books, Books, Books!

'Untitled Two' anthology published by Polygon Books and Neu Reeki









Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Poem / Titanic





Titanic

I used to love the film Titanic
The last 45 minutes or so
After the sex scene in the car
When the sea water starts to flow

The sinking ship
All slopping and swaying
The band how they
Bravely keep on playing

A man dressing up
As a girly waif
To hide in a boat
And get himself safe

The human catastrophe
The chaos, panic and drama
I used to love that film,
Titanic, the melodrama

But now it just looks
Like the Channel 4 news
People grabbing for life jackets
No coats and no shoes

Now I'm just reminded
Of the plight of refugees
All the immigrants 
Drowning in the open seas

People hungry and cold
In overcrowded boats
Crying for help
With salt burned throats

There's a Syrian Leo
And Kate the Kurd
I used to like Titanic
But now it seems absurd

And My love will go on
Is such a terrible song
I used to like Titanic
But no, never, Celine Dion.



(c) Salena Godden / 2016










Hello, how are you?

Thank you to all who made it to L'Escargot last Wednesday. My special Soho solo show was a sell out. I performed for almost two hours, reading work in progress, new poems, new excerpts from my new projects and then old festival favourites. Thank you to The Bundy Brothers for supporting and warming up the room. Thank you to Stephen Colegrave for talking me into doing such a thing. The room was packed and the cocktails flowed. I read this poem TITANIC and it went down well (haha! splash!) and so I thought I would share it here on my blog today.

Tomorrow we all must use our VOTE. 
We must speak up for unity and equality and make a stand. I feel that in these times of uncertainty that anything that promotes building walls and borders and making people more separate and alienated is unhealthy. Now more than ever we are stronger together, united, so I will be voting for us to stay IN the EU.   

Last night Nikesh Shukla started the hashtag #proudtobeachildofanimmigrant trending on twitter. I am a child of immigrants and I am proud of that. I am proud of our mixed and colourful country. Go on twitter and read the #proudtobeachildofanimmigrant tweets, they are so positive among all the racist bitterness and fear mongering rhetoric around the EU debate.

I'm going to Amsterdam tomorrow to perform at Bimhuis for Spoken Beat Night, a night of poetry and jazz improvisation and I will be spending my birthday weekend in Holland. Earlier this month I was in Berlin working on the 'Cahier Africain' documentary, a feature film documentary about war crimes in Central Africa Republic, produced by award winning German director Heidi Specogna. The film will be released later this year, here is the vimeo trailer: https://vimeo.com/130997211  

Truth is, I fear that if we left the EU, working in other European cities and moving and performing freely will become a thing of the past. Doing poetry, gigs and writing jobs in Europe will be a massive ball-ache of paperwork and bureaucracy, so there's another fine reason I think we should REMAIN. 

In other news, this month, my short story 'Blue Cornflowers' was shortlisted for the #B4ME 4thEstate and Guardian prize, the winner will be announced on the 27th June. It will be wonderful to have this story published, the content and theme of this work is important to me,  you'll have to wait until the 27th to read it, but it is brilliant to see it included on this shortlist. Thank you! 

I have loads of gorgeous events and festivals coming up this summer. Please scroll down for the list, I hope to see you in a field sitting on a hay bale sharing some cider with me sometime and soon, 

Keep Fighting The Good Fight

With love, Salena xx 



     






gigs, parties, festivals, coming up...



June 23rd: Spoken Beat Night, Bimhuis, Amsterdam

June 29th: Soapbox Poetry, The John Peel Centre, Stowmarket

July 9th: The Roundhouse, Camden, London



July 23rd: Festival 23  

August 4th: William Morris Gallery, London


August 18th: Neu Reekie, Edinburgh International Book Festival


September 2-4th: Churchtown, Cornwall

October tbc: Cheltenham Literary Festival

October 12-15: Durham Literary Festival

October 19th: Manchester Literary Festival










BRAKES Premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival Friday June 17th

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/164458037




NewBookNews, Summer 2016
Three exciting and diverse new anthologies!













Wednesday, 25 May 2016

April showers, May flies and jumping June...


This month my spirit animal is Helen McCory as Polly Shelby in Peaky Blinders

Hello! How are you all?

And how is your springtime madness?

Looking back this past few weeks have been quite helter-skelter, a tricky ride of highs and lows, and not much calm inbetween. A beautiful flow of creativity punctuated by trains and travelling and gigs, funerals and heartbreak, losing heroes and finding heroes and crying every time I hear Purple Rain. My world is a packed suitcase, I am having to sit on it to make sure I can close it and keep it safe.

Recently I was up in Edinburgh performing at the legendary Rally & Broad. I'm sad to hear that this regular event will be no more now. It was always such a delight to be invited to go and read for Jenny and Rachel. I hear there are some exciting brand new projects brewing and so I wish them superstars both the best of luck with everything in the shiny future. 


I recorded that special Rally & Broad gig and it is on my Soundcloud. It was the day after Prince died. I wore my old 1980's Prince T-shirt, it was a very powerful night, something in the air, we united under a cherry moon, the blossom snowing in April, you can hear that gig hereThe theme for this Rally & Broad event was 'WE COULD BE HEROES'


Talking of heroes... 
Sharmila Chauhan has edited and published 'The Morning Papers' an astonishing selection of #Prince tributes, read them here, at Media Diversified.

"In April, Music lost a singer and musician, but we writers also lost a poet. Whether it was his characters, or his line by line precision and intimacy; Prince was every bit the alchemist of words as well as music. In this space writers were invited to talk about the artist, in whatever context they desired. Curated by Sharmila Chauhan. Featuring work by: Leone Ross, Rosamond S. King, Gemma Weekes, Nikesh Shukla, Salena Godden, Sunil Chauhan, Rajeev Balasubramanyan and Tanuja Desai Hidier. The collection is being hosted by MediaDiversified"



And then we said goodbye to Jock.
I was honoured to be invited to be a pallbearer at the funeral for my friend and poetry hero Jock Scot. I still find it hard to  believe I won't see him again. It was an amazing send off, loads of beautiful friends were there. I won't go into one here, to be honest, I still cannot really find the words. I'll just say that it was an honour, particularly as a woman, to be asked to carry his coffin alongside comrades Davy Henderson and Baxter Dury. And as I type this I recall the feel of that morning - it was a bright grey day and it was cold. I can feel the weight of the coffin in my hands and on my shoulder and the weight in my heart. I told myself it was like putting a friend to bed, to rest. Such a legend! Viva Jock! Jock Scot! Forever! 



The day before Jock's funeral, when I was in Edinburgh, we went and visited the grave of my great-great grandfather, General James Robertson, he is buried at Greyfriars. You will find the dome shaped Robertson Mausoleum there, that's the site of all of my Scottish great-greats on my Jamaican side. If you have my memoir Springfield Road I talk about this rogue Scottish character on page 242. 

Funny thing. After Jocks funeral I got talking with Jocks nephew and his great-greats are also buried there, exactly there, in Greyfriars, the same graveyard... Now what are the chances of that? I raise a glass to these spirits. That we were there before, that we are here and now and that I have no doubt we will be there, in the future too. Time is a mirror. Time is an illusion. Time and space and the invisible gold threads that connect us all, like roots of a tree but we only see the branches.



I'm pleased as punch to see my poem MY TITS ARE MORE FEMINST THAN YOUR TITS in print. A rant poem written for stage and for boozy festival crowds is now in a book and on the page. This amuses me. A huge thank you to Edinburgh's Neu Reekieand Polygon Books. It is a cracking read from cover to cover. I have been carrying my copy everywhere I go and reading it and re-reading it, so many great poets in there, Luke Wright, Jackie Kay, Caroline Bird, Liz Lochhead, Ross Sutherland and many, many more... If you don't have a copy of this anthology I suggest you get yours here




Earlier in this month of May, we went to the Calais Jungle. We took a van load of supplies and helped out in the Refugee Community Kitchen. We peeled sacks of potatoes and were side by side with so many wonderful and generous people volunteering there.  The people at the RCK kitchen are real super heroes. It is immense the work they are doing there. If you are thinking of Volunteering now is a good time, all the info is at refugeecommunitykitchen.com 



www.refugeecommunitykitchen.com




Away from the camaraderie of the kitchens and down in the Calais Jungle I saw a glimpse of the futility of war. It was a Mad Max film set, a dystopian fiction in real time. But there I also saw the best of people, the humanity, the resourcefulness and generosity of others. The good in people. Truth is there are more good people than bad people in this world and we mustn't give up hope or lose the faith. It is escalating, this humanitarian crisis isn't going to go away. This past few weeks there has been a sharp increase in the numbers of refugees, they urgently need our help, please send donations and share this info on all your social media, thank you!


www.refugeecommunitykitchen.com



War is .. 







Brakes will premier at Edinburgh Film Festival next month on June 17th. This is a dark indie comedy written and directed by Mercedes Grower and starring Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Julia Davis and Roland Gift and many others, I play a part in this film too! Woo hoo!

Here is the link to the preview in The Skinny 


Trailer: https://vimeo.com/164458037




On June 15th, I will be performing some work in progress in Soho's salubrious L'Escargot. The tickets have been selling fast. Thank you so much to all early birds. I think there might be a handful left, if you are very lucky, so please go to the link HERE and book yourself a space and be the first to hear some of my new things... I'm very excited about this special one-off solo gig. 

Thank you to all in Liverpool at the awesome Wow Festival. It was brilliant fun performing alongside Tim Wells for Stand Up and Spit! 

Tomorrow, Thursday May 26th, I'm up in Manchester at Bang Said The Gun at the Dancehouse Theatre. I think it its gonna go off with a BANG! Also in June you will find me at Stoke Newington Literary Festival and then Amsterdam's Spoken Beat Night. Please scroll down for all gig listings and info, I am contributing to some amazing book events and festivals this summer...




And truth be told... When I am not doing all of the above, all that reading and gigging and poetry business, I am either in the garden talking lovingly to my tomatoes or curled up on the sofa engrossed in the sexy, smoky, whisky soaked world of Peaky Blinders! I love it! Helen McCory! What a broad! Thank you for reading this far down the page! Scroll down for this summers hot dates! See you out and about! Keep fighting the good fight,
sgxx 



gigs, parties, festivals, coming up...


May 26th: Bang Said The Gun, The Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester


June 15th: An Evening With Salena Godden L'Escargot, Soho

June 23rd: Spoken Beat Night, Bimhuis, Amsterdam

June 29th: Soapbox Poetry, The John Peel Centre, Stowmarket

July 9th: The Roundhouse, Camden, London



July 23rd: Festival 23  

August 4th: William Morris Gallery, London


August 18th: Neu Reekie, Edinburgh International Book Festival


September 2-4th: Churchtown, Cornwall

October tbc: Cheltenham Literary Festival

October 12-15: Durham Literary Festival

October 19th: Manchester Literary Festival












NewBookNews, Summer 2016
Three exciting and diverse new anthologies!

'My Tits Are More Feminist Than Your Tits' by Salena Godden 
'Untitled Two' anthology published by Polygon Books and Neu Reeki


'The Camden Blood Thieves' by Salena Godden 
 'An Unreliable Guide to London' anthology  
Published with Influx Press, launched July 18th 2016 


'Shade' by Salena Godden 
'The Good Immigrant' anthology  
Edited by Nikesh Shukla, published by Unbound Books 





'Fishing In The Aftermath poems 1994-2014'  published by Burning Eye Books



'Springfield Road'  literary childhood memoir published by Unbound Books