Truth to Power

Well here’s a sneak peak of something I’ve had under wraps for a while. At the end of June I was a participant in Truth to Power Cafe by Jeremy Goldstein, Jen Heyes and Sarah Hickson of London Artists Project, performing at Hebden Bridge Trades Club (that’s one off my bucket list 🤩)
We were asked to answer the question, ‘Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’

Well, in response to that, I wrote Testimony, my longest poem so far. Here is a short extract:

My name is Janey Colbourne, I am poet and seer.
I am here in defence of the disenfranchised.
I speak to those who hold economic power over us,
over people and planet—the profiteering class,

the kings of crass materialism, whose god is wealth,
whose creed is acquisition without limit,
greed above all else, regardless of the consequence.
I say to you, we see you and the game is up.

You shall no longer silence us with weasel words,
as poets and prophets we stand and we are heard,
among the spinners and weavers of a new world.
Not a world red in tooth and claw, survival of the fittest,

but a story built on thriving in symbiosis,
spreading through the web of life, the birth of an alliance.
Evolution is imperative, for balance restoration.
The earth demands you pay your dues,

If you would like to hear me passionately throwing myself into the entire poem, get yourself to Vinyl Tap, Preston this Sunday 14th June 7.30 pm for ‘Truth to Power’ poetry/rap night (coincidentally and serendipitously of almost the same name, but not the same event), where myself and Phil McNulty will be supporting the talented Richy Integer.
Facebook event page Truth to Power with Richy Integer

Speaking truth to power is definitely my thing!

If you are feeling the urge to do the same, the Truth to Power Cafe is on tour around the north of the UK at the moment, and anyone can apply to participate. You don’t need to be an experienced performer. London Artists Project are a very nurturing group who support the participants and make everyone feel safe to express themselves. Have a look at their website for details.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019

NB Just to clarify, Truth to Power Cafe has a different variety of participants at each venue, which gives lots of people the opportunity, so you can apply to take part at the venue nearest you. Participants don’t go on tour, although you can apply to participate more than once if you wish.


Should’ve Checked Trip Advisor

It’s World Refugee Day on Thursday 20 June 2019, particularly poignant in this month when we’ve seen German boat captain Pia Klemp face prosecution by the Italian government for rescuing people at sea

Should’ve Checked Trip Advisor

You’ve chosen to take a swim
on a rather foolish whim,
and you’ve even brought your children.
I must say, this spot’s a bit grim.

It’s outside of the tourist season.
To help you is probably treason.
Saving lives gets us sent to prison.
They say asylum is not a good reason.

Before I pull you out from the high seas,
could I look at your passport please?
You’re travelling without a visa?
We’re not allowed to save refugees.

My government has given the order.
You’re illegally crossing the border.
They’ve approved this form of torture,
so it can’t really be classed as murder.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019

Mic Drop. A poem about a certain issue at poetry open mics.

poetry open mic

Mic Drop

It’s a non-stop mic drop situation,
a cause of much deliberation.
At the open mic poetry nights,
there’s a need to adjust the microphone height.
It seems we have a broken mic stand.
It just came off in my hand.
Yet again the mic’s cut out and dangling,
and we’re awfully sick of wrangling
with this wayward piece of kit.
Let’s stop before it’s all in bits.
As wild and fearsome as a deckchair,
This gear’s invoking mild despair.
Can we find a way to prevent this wreck?
There’s not much need to have a sound check,
just an estimate of how tall we are.
Perhaps we should stand against the wall?
You can order us all by height,
and spend less time in a technical fight.
All the five foot twos come forward please.
Still, I’m guessing it’s quite likely this blessed thing will seize.
I’m dying to give you some assistance,
when I see the mic stand put up resistance.
You can’t attack it like that! It’ll just come loose.
You do know that it unscrews? Although not necessarily when you choose.
You may observe with a brief assessment,
it is made for infinite adjustment.
This micro stage is rather small, resembling a ledge.
I’m wincing as I see the feet of the mic stand teetering on the edge.
Don’t put it there, oh fuck…
I have to stop myself from jumping up.
Yes, I know I’m a bit of a control freak.
It gets mentioned to me pretty much every week.
As if me sat here, with my jaw clenched, is going make the slightest difference.
You don’t need any interference.
I know I have a problem, it’s just my fussy brain.
I have a tendency to mumsplain.
It’s all going fine, it’s a minor issue,
and a source of some amusement.
Even if the whole thing’s come undone,
we’re all still having fun.
I can see I need to let it go, so,
I’m sorry. I’d better sit down, shut up now, and let you get on with the show.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019

Captain Marvel You Are My Hero

Representation is so important. This month it is fifty years since the Stonewall uprising that was triggered by a raid on a gay bar in New York and and that led to the first Gay Pride march, which are now held around the world every year. Fifty years ago being openly gay or transgender would lead to arrest. Today there has been much progress but we still have a way to go. Only this week a gang of youths were arrested for attacking two gay women on a bus in London .

Captain Marvel also shows a lead character that is a woman portrayed without objectification and oversexualisation. Marvel Comics films have done a lot to improve representation of the marginalized as lead characters in mainstream media. Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Captain Marvel You Are My Hero

Captain Marvel you are my hero,
the one who really speaks for me,
the first female hero of an action film
to truly act as a lead, autonomously,
dressed, not in underwear, but actual clothes,
the way the men are usually seen.

You don’t need to be told to control your rage.
You won’t allow it to be denied.
You know exactly when and how to use it,
never out of control or misapplied.
Your righteous wrath is your superpower.
You know it’s time to fight for freedom.
With compassion and insight, you direct your strength
in defence of those in need.

I see you in your flannel shirt and jeans,
not a skirt in sight.
You’ll accept no less than equality,
standing up to the patriarchal might.
Strong women together in solidarity;
your best friend’s a pilot too.
We can tell she’s your girlfriend really.
I’ve seen the way she looks at you.

There are those who want to moderate your power.
You’ve woken up to their manipulation.
No longer broken by the charms of liars,
you won’t be blinded by infatuation,
nor the predatory intent of a random stranger,
demanding a smile, or a ride.
Mister, it’s not you she likes,
it’s your motorbike.

You don’t know the validation of representation,
if you’ve never had it in your life,
growing up with self doubt and constant frustration,
although you sense that this is not right,
until you feel that empowerment for the very first time,
released from gender based limitations
and realise this sense of expansive space
is what it’s always been like for the guys.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019

Silence in the Meadow

It’s too easy to idealise the past, looking back to an imaginary idyll through a rose tinted lens, and I’m sure those who lived in poverty in the past would think we are very lucky to have such lives of comfort, and of course we are, but I still think we’ve lost something since the enclosures of the land in the 18th Century, after which the rural population significantly decreased and town populations surged. I’ll be performing this poem as part of my set this afternoon, Saturday 1st June, on the Manchester Histories Soapbox stage as part of the King St Festival in Manchester. This year is the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre, in which protesters demanding election reforms (still an issue today) were slaughtered by the authorities. The theme of my poetry set will be social and environmental justice.

Silence in the Meadow

Once, the fields were filled with folk, sowing seed,
raking grass, reaping corn, singing songs.
Their children laughing, barefoot, in daisy crowns,
enchanted for a moment by the curlew’s
haunting call, the zig-zag dash of the hare, tiny
nest of harvest mouse, plump blackberries fresh from hedgerows,
small faces streaked with purple smiles, while parents
sang the harvest in, weaving words, weaving bonds,
weaving winter food and friendship, to ward away the fear.

But now the fields are empty, restyled as unspoiled countryside,
scenery for the affluent, while weavers
live in cages, safe, warm and sterile,
till brambles wither, curlews cry unheard. The harvest mouse is homeless.
No children run to warn the hare the harvest comes.
But for a lonely diesel engine, there is silence in the meadow.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019

The Revolution Will Not Be Minimised

The Revolution Will Not Be Minimised

Political awareness is power, although it may feel like despair, in a world so diabolically unfair. How I yearn for society built on sharing, creating a viable space, where flesh does not burn in the face of authority, felled from the towers of grace. This shower of shit has gone on for so long, the flavour of fascism far too strong, flowers cut down before they can grow. We know now how this could all end. Send this message out loud and clear. Time to wake to our role in the biosphere. To those shaken with fear, misdirected with tricks, by the blinding incendiary politics: the true threat is here in front of your eyes, in the far right position of capitalist lies, invested in fuelling the radicalised, and intending to demonise all opposition. While jailed are the firemen, for saving the lives of migrants on boats. And devoted protectors of water supplies, defending the land against oil pipe invasion, remind us it’s not yet too late for salvation.

Don’t drain the remains of your personal power in hopeless and desperate fatalism, bent under the weight of the Tory State, that betrayed every one of us and our children. In infatuation with the elite, they expect us to grovel at their feet, as the poor must contend with damp mouldy hovels, on short-term rents at extortionate rates, owned by their mates who donate to the party, dispensing denial from lives of luxury, served on a plate, all shored up with the greatest entitlement sense. This is no time to sit on the fence. We must act in defence of the future, refusing to bow to abusers of privilege, call out their idolisation of greed, unseating the rich list, this twisted perspective which feeds on self-doubt and objectification. Resist this invective and plant a new seed, every sprout is a worthwhile part of the solution, a statement of freedom and proud contribution, a gift from the heart for the earth’s restoration.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019

This Is Capitalism—a poem to challenge the current system

This is actually a rewrite of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, which before that, started as lyrics to a track I wrote, all of the same name. It’s a very different poem now, but still with the same message.

This Is Capitalism

We live in a society of sanitized brutality.
Austerity increasing exponential wealth disparity, despairing for community.
Who has put a price on life to ration out a tiny slice,
and grip us in their vice, disguised as moral order righteousness?
Pretenders to the throne, to throw us only scraps and bones.
The corporations profit all by raised invoice and taxes slashed,
as progress of humanity is measured just in cash.
A contrivance of a dazzling array of pointless choice
ensures compliance with the profiteering class.
Manufacturing a mockery of individuality, sedating our autonomy
with finely graded options from a limited new batch.

Advertisements instil in us the meaning of our lives,
fulfilled in mass assembly lines, devised for obsolescence,
obscenely endless streams of products selling empty dreams,
sold to the masses by these liars,
with poverty of meaning and enslavement to desire.
They blind our eyes to capitalize, infantilised identities, defining our reality,
encouraging self hate, to forge more unmet needs imaginary, breeding insecurity.
Lifestyle-focused bogus mantras tightly seal our fate, with tactical semantics,
branded as consumers in this land of plastic bait.

Where money is religion.
This is capitalism.
This is a prison.

Step up courageously,
break free from this insanity
because you are divinity.
Awaken creativity,
find your originality,
define your own reality.

©️Janey Colbourne 2019