It only makes sense to moan, by Nadia Anjuman (1980-2005)

My beautiful picture

On this day in 2005 young Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman was beaten to death by her husband in Herat in Northwestern Afghanistan. The murder was later covered up with the connivance of both families, the police, and the local medical authorities.

It only makes sense to moan.

I don’t want to open my mouth anymore.

What should I sing of…?

Life will go on hating me

Whether I sing or I don’t sing.

Why should I talk of sweetness,

When I feel bitterness?

The bully’s fist has broken my face.

I have neither lover nor companion.

Who can I be sweet for?

Whether I speak or I laugh or I don’t laugh.

Whether I die or I live.

I’m lonely wherever I go.

I’m filled up with sorrow in the midst of a crowd.

I was born for nothingness.

My mouth should be sealed.

Oh my heart, you know it is Spring

And time to celebrate.

What can I do with a strapped-down wing,

that doesn’t allow me to fly ?

I have been silent too long,

But I never forget the melody,

Since every moment I whisper

The songs from my heart,

Reminding myself of

The day I will break this cage,

Fly from this solitude

And sing like a maniac.

I am not a weak poplar tree

To be shaken by any wind.

I am an Afghan woman,

It only makes sense to moan

Nadia Anjuman

Bog Radio – Mercedes Sosa- Todo Cambia/Everything Changes

Haydée Mercedes Sosa died aged 74 on this day in 2009. She was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the continent.With her roots in Argentine folk music, Sosa became one of the preeminent exponents of nueva canción. She gave voice to songs written by both Brazilians and Cubans. She was best known as the “voice of the voiceless ones”.

After the military junta of Jorge Videla came to power in 1976, the atmosphere in Argentina grew increasingly oppressive. At a concert in La Plata in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, along with all those attending the concert. Their release came about through international intervention.Banned in her own country, she moved to Paris and then to Madrid.

Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982 several months before the military regime collapsed and gave a series of concerts at the Opera theatre in Buenos Aires, where she invited many of her younger colleagues to share the stage.

Everything Changes

That which is superficial changes
Also that which is profound
the way of thinking changes
Everything in this world changes

The weather changes as the years go by
The shepherd changes his flock
and just as everything changes
the fact that I change it’s not in the least strange

The finest diamond changes its brightness
as it travels from hand to hand
the bird changes its nest
So does a lover change the way he feels

The traveler changes his path
even if this proves to be harmfull
and just as everything changes
the fact that I change it’s not in the least strange

Changes, everything changes

The sun changes its course
to give way to the night
The plant changes and gets dressed in green
during spring

The beast changes its fur
the hair of an old person changes
and just as everything changes
the fact that I change it’s not in the least strange

But my love doesn’t change
no matter how far away I find myself
neither the memory nor the pain
of my country and my people

What changed yesterday
will have to change tomorrow
Just as I change
in this foreign land

Changes, everything changes

But my love doesn’t change
no matter how far away I find myself
neither the memory nor the pain
of my country and my people

Changes, everything changes

The Bogmans Cannon Top 10 reads

Top 10 red 3d realistic paper speech bubble isolated on white
The Bogmans Cannon Top 10 reads for September 2015
  1. The Unquiet Death of Decency (In Memoriam Nick Cohen & David Aaronovitch), by Kevin Higgins

2. The Bogman’s Cannon Padraig Pearse Playlist

3. I see people, Joe Horgan on the Refugee Crisis

4. Corbyn, The Irish Left, and The Arts, by Dave Lordan

5. 12 Irish Personalities on The Books that changed my Life as a Teen.

6. Against The Police – Free international Poetry Anthology from The Bogmans Cannon.

7. How to support Refugee Solidarity Structures by Caoimhe Butterly

8. The Flying Column (Royals and Fisting) by Connor Kelly

9. A Playlist Of Irish Hip-Hop by Karl Parkinson

10 Women This State Hates Us, by Sarah Clancy

The Laughing Heart, by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life

don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

recommended by Cormac Culkeen

Bog TV – William Morris, 121 years dead today

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain.

Interview with Derry O’Sullivan, by Barbara O’Donnell

Derry O’Sullivan is a multi-lingual poet, writer and lecturer, originally from West Cork, now based in Paris. He has lectured at all the major universities in Paris and is a former priest.  His poem “Blip” was featured in a public art project in 2014, by the artists Cleary and Connolly, along with the children of Gaelscoil Bheanntrai. 

You say that you felt it would have been impossible to return to West Cork in 1969 after taking the decision to leave the priesthood. Did you feel exiled in a way?

In June 1969, my parents, 10 younger siblings, uncles, and in-laws came to Ards, Donegal for my ordination in the Capuchin monastery. My family knelt individually before me for my first blessing. Then, in my native Bantry, hundreds of townspeople knelt before me one by one in Bantry Catholic Church for my laying hands on them. The following month, July, Armstrong landed on the moon and, in August, the Capuchins sent me to Paris to prepare a thesis in French on Catechetics and Comparative Religion studies. I had never studied French and had one month in Tours to learn enough to be able to follow lectures in Biblical form criticism, child psychology, and Dogmatics.
Within 6 months, the “Ipsissima Verba” floored me.  My French studies of how the Bible was written, not being “the very words of Christ”, destroyed my beliefs and I explained to Pope Paul the Sixth that I could no longer talk to people about teachings I doubted and was given papal permission to leave. Not wanting to embarrass people in Ireland, I opted to stay in France even though Ireland wasn’t in what was later to become the EU.

Have you retained your Catholic faith? How easy was that out in the world beyond the priesthood?

Teaching became my profession. In 1970, firstly at the SHAPE international school with some 2,500 pupils, half of whom were non-French. I taught in the British Section 12 year olds to 18 year olds. These kids often changed countries with their parents, so in my first class i asked if they had heard of Lord Tennyson and a 12-year old girl piped up: “I played piggy-back with him!” And it was true – with his great- grandson! I asked my 13 year olds if they had heard of Shakespeare and a girl shouted: “My daddy does a lot of Shakespeare!” Her daddy, Peter Brooke, frequently brought his group to our classes.  In 1978, I was asked to be director of the Anglo-American department of a new French International boarding school and I wanted an American woman history teacher. I gave the job to an excellent candidate who left some months later because the French government stonewalled Americans for work papers.  Many years later, watching the John Kerry presidential bid on CNN, I saw my history teacher again: she was John Kerry’s sister! I gave a job to John Kerry’s sister without knowing it!
I taught the American and British Constitutions to thousands of First Year Law students at the Sorbonne, working simultaneously at an Engineering school, doing poetry workshops with Stanford students, the Catholic University’s English degree classes and several Grandes Écoles. There has been thousands of written and oral exams yearly over 43 years, not to mention with the International Baccalaureate of Geneva since 1981, plus examining teachers and other examiners in over 100 countries, as many as 20 yearly thanks to the computer.

Between you, your wife and family, how many languages are spoken in your house? What tends to be the main one?

I had written Irish-language poetry in the monastery but, being removed from Ireland, living and working with many cultures, I had started writing in Swedish – my son’s mother being Swedish – I met Jean O’Sullivan.
Already divorced twice, sharing custody of my 2-year old, in 1983, because neither of my wives had been Christian and not subject to the Church, Jean 6 months pregnant and I got married in Glasthule Church filled with O’ Sullivans from both sides, including my ten siblings and my mother. It must have been hard on both families to see child-bearing Jean marry a former priest, twice divorced and with a son. The Capuchins were present in my support.  This was Ireland in 1983. I will always remain faithful to the Catholics and Christians of Ireland. I go to Mass each Sunday in the age-old Irish College of Paris. Meeting Jean, I resumed writing poetry in Irish, never speaking it in daily life but writing relentlessly.

You write and speak English, French, Irish and Latin. This is, in part, a result of your studies as well as an active interest. You grew up in an English speaking family. Had you already started working as Gaeilge before you got to University College Cork, and found Seán Ó Tuama’s encouragement?

At the age of 17, studying Greek, Latin, Irish and Philosophy, I was inspired by the wonderful teaching of Seán Ó Tuama, to devote my life to Irish. But at 18, I joined the Capuchins and finished the BA in Latin and Philosophy and Theology in Donegal, where we had regular contact with the Brennans and the budding Clannad.

Working multi-lingually, it seems inevitable that you will end up translating and being translated. Your work has been translated by various people, including Michael Davitt.  The most well known of these translations is the one done by Kaarina Hollo, of “Stillborn 1943: Calling Limbo”, which won the Sunday Times Stephen Spender Prize in 2012. How do you feel about your work being translated? Is it usually done in collaboration with you?

Apart from Jean’s inspiration, I have received inestimable help from the Irish government, the late Michael Davitt, Louis de Paor, Pádraig de Paor of Trinity, Kaarina Hollo, the Stephen Spender Prize, the people of Bantry and others acknowledged in my books in France, the U.S, Canada and elsewhere. Especially the support of Coiscéim and Pádraig Ó Snodaigh. I continue to explore the Irish language. So many people have helped me and continue to do so. Of late, Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta has window cased my work through An Sagart. I am also indebted to Conor Power in The Times and to the Bantry Boys’ School and to the Bantry Gaelscoil where government funding of the Clery-Connoly project on my poem “Blip” has been inscribed on its magnificent walls.

Irish has been called “a language of loneliness”. It is easy to think of it as a language of isolation; a minority language, only spoken in a few parts of the world. They are all invariably quite far-flung, eg Ireland, Scotland, Newfoundland. Added to this was the drudgery and punishment many felt in schools at being pushed into learning it. Peig herself was flung out in the Blaskets. You have noted that using words as Gaeilge tends to be part of the vernacular for those in West Cork. 

Irish is part of our landscape which was named by our ancestors, anglicised by army and absentee landlords. Without Irish, we inhabit an island whose vocal cords have been snipped: Bantry, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Limerick – the last mentioned rhyming with a rude word in English – and thousands of others. Our English, so necessary for our survival, is often full of Irish-language phonemes; we need both English and Irish for our roots in history.

The debate in Ireland over the usefulness of the Irish language is ongoing. However, Gaelscoils are now a normal part of educational institutions in Ireland and the Fulbright Commission sponsors student and teacher exchanges between Ireland and the US.  TG4 has been added to the national television channels in Ireland.  Do you think Irish is only for those who have a serious interest in Languages?   What do you think when you hear people say “Irish is dead”?

Our children need our hybrid culture to survive both economically and culturally, enabling them, finally, to understand other peoples with equally diverse linguistic roots and attachments. Irish and English must be spoken freely and joyously without linguistic hang-ups, being unafraid to mix the two in real, everyday life. It is a fabulous blast. Of course, it is enhanced with a love of Merriman and Shakespeare, Wilde, the mighty “craic” of Connemara, Kerry, West Cork, Donegal and the urban Irish-English of our cities and towns and our diaspora. No barriers between the communities of our island.

See here for Dr. Karina Hollo’s prizewinning translation from Irish, of Derry’s poem “Marbhghin 1943: Glaoch ar Liombo/Stillborn 1943: Calling Limbo