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 The smog is gone, but the grim conditions of the mill industry have been replaced by something far more insidious: neoliberalism and the throwaway consumer culture.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now superseded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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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.

‘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

My New Album ‘Take Your Power Back’

At last I have finished my album ‘Take Your Power Back’, which I have been working on over the past year. It is an album of electronic music with spoken word and song, of various genres and tempos, from dance to ambient. My intention is to create music that’s enjoyable to listen and dance to, whilst also having something worthwhile, outspoken and inspiring to say. The lyrics are an important part of the music and have a pretty strong message, challenging the dominant neoliberal cultural narrative and creating a new narrative of hope, personal empowerment, freedom, community and re-connection with the earth.

It is available to buy as a digital download from my bandcamp site here, either as the full album for £5 or as individual tracks, priced at either 80p or 60p each. Prices are plus VAT. You can listen to all the tracks before purchasing, and if you purchase you can choose unlimited streaming or high quality download. Enjoy!

Listen to my album here

On the #metoo campaign and #victimblaming

Trigger warning: content discusses sexual violence

I’d like to thank the Guardian for the detailed and clearly written article  ‘Harvey Weinstein: a list of the women who have accused him’ by Caroline Davies and Nadia Khomami on 21 October 2017. This article conveys how the women felt they were manipulated and intimidated, and in some cases physically attacked by Weinstein and I think it’s important to hear those voices as a counter to the victim blaming that I have been seeing on social media— in some cases, most alarmingly, from other women survivors of sexual assault. Not only are perpetrators dominating, controlling and destroying lives, they also have the satisfaction of seeing the women blame each other for it. This demonstrates the level of their manipulative powers and that misogyny is deeply endemic in our culture.

According to the allegations in this article, the victims were all terrified of Weinstein. When a man unexpectedly removes his clothing in inappropriate circumstances the first thought of a vulnerable woman (or man) is, how far do his lack of boundaries go? Can I get out of here alive? What do I have to do to get out of here alive? This is not a man who is taking no for an answer. If you’re going to run or fight, you had better be sure you can get away. And you have a split second to think about it before he makes his move.

As a society, we need to have a conversation about what constitutes consent. Acquiescing out of fear is not consent, whether it is fear for our safety, career, or anything else. As it happens, many of the women quoted in the Guardian article said they found some way to escape. Nevertheless, judgement should not be laid on those who did not feel safe to resist his advances. The shame of compliance in the face of sexual intimidation is one of things that keeps victims quiet, that allows the perpetrators to get away with it, to continue getting away with it, committing sexual violence to so many others. Weinstein preyed on the young and naive,  allegedly telling them, “This is how Hollywood works”. Power is the keyword here. Sexual violence is all about power— a cycle of using power to maintain power. Abuse of power in order to abuse in order to have power. A powerful cycle. Manipulation. Charm. Lies. Shaming. Gaslighting. Being in a position of power or authority. Physical violence. Threats. Blackmail. Bribery. Do not underestimate the psychological powers of a predator.

Gaslighting is a term to describe a technique of manipulation where a victim is made to doubt their own sanity, memory, judgement and perception, through the use of mind games and deceit. This enables the perpetrator to keep the victim trapped, dependent and compliant. If as victims we are blaming and silencing each other, then we have all been gaslighted.

No victim should be made to feel ashamed for what happened to them, or for how they dealt with it. For some, the #metoo campaign has been profoundly triggering. For those who cannot bear to speak of their pain, I hope that those of us who do may offer some comfort that our voices challenge the acceptance of this violence as a normal and inevitable part of life, in the hope that all our daughters may have a better, safer future.

Janey Colbourne 2017

Related content:
https://heartseer.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/what-is-freedom-nationalpoetryday/

Unity in Diversity: our hope for the future

I don’t believe that it’s coincidence that as we face growing environmental concerns, inextricably linked with enormous humanitarian crises around the world, we also have the emergence of the most enlightened, awakened and inclusive vision of what it means to be human. We have the potential to utterly transform our world. Around the world prejudice in all forms is being challenged as never before. 

      I believe we are stepping into a new era- the age of neurodiversity pride. Let’s celebrate the diversity of the human being to its fullest extent. We acknowledge the diversity of race, gender, sexuality, religion and culture. It’s time now to acknowledge the value of the diversity of the human brain, to accept and celebrate diverse modes of perception. Neurodiversity encompasses a significant proportion of the population, in the form of high sensitivity, ADHD, ASD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and so on, many of whom see their neurodiversity as a fundamental part of their identity, not as a disorder, since there are benefits and strengths as well as disadvantages. Everyone has some skill, gift, talent or wisdom to share with the world and to deny that, or to be oblivious to it, is to deny the richness of our human capability as an entire species. It’s time to evolve to the next level.
I have great hope for the potential future of humanity. We have in our hands an enormous opportunity. In times of crisis we can work so well together. The generations who lived through the World Wars experienced what we can achieve when we have to unite against a common enemy. The greatest enemy now is within. it is our apathy and sense of disempowerment, our despair, lack of courage and self-belief. It is so true that we fear our own power. We cannot afford to any longer. We face the greatest environmental crisis in human history. Yet all around me I see visions of hope, inspiration, compassion, courageous action, scientific discovery and inventiveness. We have the creative potential to live the most awesome lives of abundance and fulfilment, in harmony with the earth and each other. I truly believe it. Only our fear holds us back.
The global village brings us the awareness of not only inequality, injustice and environmental catastrophes but also of biological and cultural diversity and how awesome and precious that is. These things can no longer be swept under the carpet, despite the best efforts of a media controlled by those with vested interests. 
Globalisation of business corporations creates a dangerous centralisation of power and a worldwide influence on culture and values, but at the same time accessible international communications empowers us through enabling a broad insight and access to unprecedented sources of knowledge. Ideas and news spread like wildfire. Communities of like minded individuals can unite to inspire each other and act together. Let’s seize this opportunity. It’s time to wake up, wise up and rise up! 
© Janey Colbourne 2017

This Is Capitalism

We live in a society in which peasants used to be paid in beer,
to keep them happy in their mundane lives,
To numb them from the reality of their poverty and enslavement.
Now we are paid in money,
and are expected to buy our own beer, wine, coffee, cake, toothpaste, perfume
(consumer goods for your satisfaction & distraction)
and this is capitalism.

The illusion of choice for the profit of the few;
Cars, houses, holidays you can spend your life paying for
(consumer lifestyle for satisfaction and distraction).
Advertisements advising on the meaning of our lives:
Do remind us how to fulfill our individuality through purchasing of mass produced goods, sold to the masses.

Do remind us;
Money is the new drug.
This is capitalism:
How you control our lives.

They dazzle your eyes and capitalize on your blindness.
Semantical tactics: Using language to define your reality.
“Consumer goods. Consumerism. We are consumers.”

Money is the new drug.
This is capitalism.
This is a prison.

Semantical tactics: Using language to define your reality.
“Consumer goods. Consumerism. We are consumers.”
The illusion of choice for the profit of the few.
They dazzle your eyes and capitalize on your blindness.

This is capitalism.

Define your reality.