Culture: a poem about modern culture in a post-industrial town.

The small towns in the North of England were once the centre of the cotton manufacturing industry, using cotton imported from India during the time of the British Empire, because the damp climate was ideal for working with the cotton fibres, enabling efficient cotton spinning and weaving. These ‘cotton towns’ were heavily industrial, their skylines dominated by mill chimneys and smog. In 1931 Gandhi visited Darwen in Lancashire. The cotton industry here began to decline during India’s fight for independence. The mill workers wanted Gandhi to see the poverty caused by the decline of the industry, but poverty is relative-it was nothing in comparison to the poverty in India. I wrote this poem about life in a Northern town in this post-industrial era. The smog is gone, but the grim conditions of the mill industry have been replaced by something far more insidious: neoliberalism and the throwaway consumer culture. The factories are out of sight, out of mind, out of the country, and churning out endless mass-produced plastic goods, designed to keep us spending and consuming, with short-lived use and eternal life as trash.

The relative poverty is still here. The damp is still here. Welcome to the North.

 

Culture

Pound shops and takeaways,

salons for grooming of

dogs and their owners

sit side by side.

Rancid fat acrid

in back alley junk piles,

settees and Christmas trees

slowly decay.

Damp homes

in damp climate

for cotton mill workers

no longer needed.

The forest of chimneys

now superseded

by new build in miniature,

room sizes shrinking,

like chocolates and crisps,

the packets get smaller

while the prices go

through the roof.

©️Janey Colbourne 2017

Here’s a link to my spoken word/ambient recording of the poem on SoundCloud

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Stupid Girl: #metoo poem now as spoken word with music

Preview of my new song to be released hard techno track with spoken word poem intro about sexual harassment.

This is a poem I recently shared here in a blog post. I’ve been working on putting it to music. Trigger warning: sexual abuse and swearing.

Here’s a link to the original blog post with the poem in written format:

https://heartseer.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/stupid-girl-a-poem/

©️Janey Colbourne 2018

Ladylike: a poem inspired by Doritos ‘lady crisps’ controversy

To Crunch or Not To Crunch?

Recently Doritos has been in the news for apparently planning to bring out ‘lady crisps’ with less crunch. They claim this is not true, but have not denied that Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, who own Doritos, said they are preparing a range of snacks for women and that women “…don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.” (Source: @doritos Twitter account)

I was inspired to write a short poem in response:

Ladylike

Lady shave,
just the same,
but in pink,
lady’s glass,
so dainty
to hold,
lady parts
too shameful
to name,
lady’s crisps
with the crunch
taken out,

cos that’s not
ladylike.

Any colour,
shape or size,
make a noise
if you like.

If a lady likes
to do it,
then it’s ladylike.

©️Janey Colbourne 2018

I’m not going to share a picture of Doritos and give them free advertising, so here’s a photo of my facial expression right now.

Happy Imbolc

Watching the tree behind my house for signs of Spring. There are a few new buds, still tightly closed.

The first herald of Spring that comes to my attention is a change in the scent of the air. This happens roughly around the time of Imbolc, 2nd February. This year I noticed it on 30th January. Modern humans like to set dates on the calendar, but pagan festivals such as Imbolc and Beltane happen when nature gives us her signs. For Imbolc, which celebrates the very earliest signs of the coming Spring, such signs include snowdrops, new lambs in the field, and buds beginning to form on the trees. There are more subtle signs that I notice: the previously mentioned change of scent in the air, and also a change in the quality of the light, as the sun’s arc starts to creep a little higher away from the horizon. Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I mention the scent in the air. I find it hard to describe, or explain. There aren’t many flowers around yet. Maybe there are just enough to create this scent, or perhaps it’s the scent of the sap rising—vegetation beginning to awaken, and preparing for a growth spurt. Warm air allows smells to spread more easily, but the air hasn’t warmed significantly yet, except perhaps briefly, in sheltered sunny spots. There is often still frost on the ground. Whatever it is, I can definitely smell Spring. Happy Imbolc!

©️ Janey Colbourne 2018

‘Stupid Girl’ (a poem)

Here’s a new poem I’ve just written for my spoken word collection. I’ve not done a recording of it yet.

(Trigger warning: on the subject of sexual assault.)

Stupid Girl

He saw I was drunk in the nightclub.
I was kinda passed out.
Vaguely heard him say, ‘I’ll take you home.’
and he threw me in a taxi,
but it wasn’t my home
we went to.

Too tired and drunk to argue,
I fell asleep on his settee.

He laid on me.

I said, ‘No way, get off me.’
He wouldn’t stop.

So I went and got in his bed,
and tried to sleep.
All night long:
‘No get off me.’
‘No get off me.’
‘No get off me.’

I guess it was my own fault,
stupid girl,
for being young, naive and drunk,
and thinking he was
a friend,
not the fault of
an older, stronger man,
who saw me helpless and asleep,

and tried to fuck me,
the fucking creep.

©️ Janey Colbourne 2018

‘Trapped In Wealth’ my single now available on Bandcamp

BUY THIS TRACK HERE

I wrote and recorded this piece last year and published it on YouTube in response to journalist Charles Moore’s comment that David Cameron was “trapped in wealth”. I have now released it as a single track on Bandcamp and it is available to buy as a high quality digital download from my bandcamp site here.

Trapped In Wealth (The Poor Rich)

I am beyond enraged
I am in the cold steely frost on the other side
Trapped in wealth?
Unfortunate fate has bestowed a burden so great
The super rich.

The poor, poor rich engineer destiny
For the poor poor, so undeserving.

A burden so great
The super rich
engineer destiny.
The poor, poor rich.

I am beyond enraged
I am in the cold steely frost on the other side
Trapped in wealth?

The poor, poor rich engineer destiny
For the poor poor, so undeserving.

I am beyond enraged.
The super rich.
Trapped in wealth.
A burden so great.

I am beyond enraged
I am in the cold steely frost on the other side.

©️Janey Colbourne 2017

My Bandcamp site here

Follow me on SoundCloud

How I Celebrate New Year (and not on December 31st)

For some reason New Year’s Eve always stresses me out. Not only is it the screaming parties that make me uncomfortable. Even the plethora of good wishes and resolutions on social media causes me anxiety. In part it’s because I don’t like a big fuss, external demands, and the pressure of expectations. I find it stressful that everyone has to count down and be present for this momentous moment, the ominous midnight. I’m pretty sensitive (you may have noticed) and I can feel the enormous energy of all those people celebrating at the same time. It’s a very strong energy. Of course, if this New Year is your cup of tea, then I’m sure that powerful energy is a positive force in your life. I respect that this time is meaningful for other people, as I do with Christmas.

My dislike of New Year is also because I don’t celebrate the ‘new year’ at this time. For me, it doesn’t feel significant or meaningful. What does it matter if it’s one minute to midnight or one minute past? Nature doesn’t live by the microsecond. Well, she does, but only at the microscopic level. Our bodies are finely tuned internally, moment by moment, but in our conscious experience, nature’s process is more gradual. The countdown to midnight on 31st December is entirely arbitrary to my mind, although it does fall within the midwinter celebrations of Yule. But the specific timing is only a calendar date—a created construct. Nothing significant happens in nature at midnight on 31st December, other than screaming humans setting off explosives—sorry, I mean fireworks. Leaves falling from the trees, the first frost or snow on the ground are far more meaningful to me. I’m happy to participate in good wishes for the solstice, but then, not everyone celebrates that, so it’s not obligatory within my social circle to make a big fuss, or to remember to say it to every single person.

My personal ‘new year’ actually occurs around three times a year, the main one being in September. This is probably a remnant from spending so many years in academia. The end of summer signifies the end of holidays and festivals and the beginning of new work. This is, as I say, tied to my life experience rather than the broader seasonal patterns. I realize that to many people this might seem as arbitrary as the traditional new year, but that’s fine with me because it’s my personal new year and time for a fresh start, and I don’t expect anything from anyone else in regards to it. My second ‘new year’ is around the beginning of November. This aligns with the pagan new year festival of Samhain, 31st October-2nd November, overlayed with the modern festivals of Halloween and bonfire night. This festival recognises the doorway of death that comes in winter. This ‘new year’ is something that has evolved organically for me, not something I have consciously chosen, despite the significant alignment. Surely this is how traditional festivals came about in the first place—through a recognition of natural cycles. I have published two books in November. It seems to be a time of completing projects or of formulating new ones. The beginning of the dark time of year, with the end of the long days and warmth, is a time for finishing off the year’s work, followed by winter days spent thinking and planning for the year ahead. I don’t hold myself rigidly to any timetable, it just evolves with a natural rhythm. I review my path and set intentions when it is the right time to do so, not according to someone else’s calendar. My third ‘new year’ aligns roughly with the Chinese New Year in February, also the pagan festival of Imbolc. This makes sense to me, as it is when we see the first signs of Spring to come—new buds on the trees, snowdrops emerging, and the first lambs born. This is a seasonal new year in terms of the earth’s cycle in the place where I live. It’s a time of hope and looking forward to warmer, brighter days.

However and whenever you celebrate your New Year, I wish you well and hope that your dreams and intentions may be fulfilled for the highest good of all. Happy New Year whenever that may be.