on being asked to read at the Sussex Poetry Festival 2011
A year or two after emigrating, she happened to be in Paris on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of her country. A protest march had been scheduled, and she felt driven to take part. Fists raised high, the young Frenchmen shouted out slogans condemning Soviet imperialism. She liked the slogans, but to her surprise she found herself unable to shout along with them. She lasted only a few minutes in the parade.
When she told her French friends about it, they were amazed. “You mean you don’t want to fight the occupation of your country?” She would have liked to tell them that behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison. But she knew she would never be able to make them understand. Embarrassed, she changed the subject.
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Don’t mistake me for a “champagne socialist”
I was born with a cut-glass flute in my mouth
mind if I play a tune? It’s going for a song.
Does that make me social-lite?
Hey leftie, do you care?
Call yourself liberal?
Those Tories over there
don’t care which tenor I play.
Oh sorry, I’ve got the wrong room –
Please stop glaring
through your Social-Searchlights:
I just came to read some poems.
Utopia isn’t yours, you know.
That Capitalist has a heart of Gold.
Realists, they dream too.
I thought we were playing a game?
Who gave you the Monopoly
If the fee for the poetry party is partisan
I’ll sing outside alone.
Need I remind you why your Pound
went out of Fascion?
If it’s controversy you require
I just conformed.
“Recite your conscription to the Kangaroo Court little girl!”
“Ok, but I’m only following orders.”
Can you see the rainbow?
vivid streaks of vitality eclipsing
Your bloodied Bloc Red
This is not the Cold War
I am warm and human too –
I’m not a racist, I do not spit in children’s faces
For obliquity, irony and ‘clever’ puns
there is a time and place
In respect of Liberty I will not skirt:
RESPECT EACH OTHER
EMBRACE THIS WORLD
These are the worthiest of words.