INTERVIEW WITH ANEES AHMAD 3/12/16

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Glasgow but have been living in London for the last two years. I’m probably a bit unusual among the poetry community in that I didn’t fancy myself as much of a creative type until I was around 20 – I was never the type to be writing angsty lyrics in the back of my school jotters. As a result there is almost no written record of my angsty teenage years, which suits me quite well.

I grew up listening to hip-hop and got into writing and performing with my friends Johnny and Paul around 4 years ago. We called ourselves Futurology and managed to progress from pretty terrible to pretty decent within a fairly short time. We’re still active – through the wonders of technology I’m still able to work on new material with them despite living several hundred miles away. This seems like a good point to plug our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FuturologyMusic/.

I developed an interest in spoken word poetry shortly after moving to London. It appealed to me because of the obvious similarities with hip-hop, as well as the fact that it’s much easier to write and that there’s a very active community here, offering plenty of opportunities to perform. I started organising my own event, Extra Second London, back in August 2016 and it’s been running every month since.

Tell us about your poetry-night “Extra Second London.”

As mentioned above, I started attending poetry events on a pretty regular basis after moving to London. One issue I had with these events though was that there was little to no room for discussion – I would often see a poet perform a really thought-provoking piece that might have changed my perspective on something, but there was no real opportunity to discuss this as they would be followed on stage by another poet who may be talking about something completely different. I found that a lot of people agreed with this view, which led me to believe there would be interest in an event that allowed discussion alongside the poetry.

Around the same time, my bandmates Johnny and Paul had started running a poetry night in Glasgow called Extra Second that had really taken off. This was held once a month, with each month’s event based around a different theme that poets were invited to explore. I decided to combine this format with my idea for introducing a discussion element and thus Extra Second London was born.

Like the event in Glasgow, Extra Second London explores a different theme every month. As well as showcasing three different featured poets every month, we also have an open mic, during which anyone who turns up on the night can perform. The performances are followed by around 30 minutes of open audience discussion, where anyone and everyone are welcome to have their say.

We’ve held four events so far, discussing The Future of British Politics, Education, The Role of the Artist in Society and Gender Roles. The next event will be held on the 24th January on the topic of Social Class. In future months we’re looking at holding discussions on topics such as Drugs and Social Media, among others.

More information can be found on our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/extrasecondlondon/.

You can also find footage from previous events on our Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjVcnsCI-fe5byPZYNYkbFA.

What are some of the best things that have happened at Extra Second London?

Our first event (on The Future of British Politics) was opened by Jason Pilley, who gave an incredible 15 minute monologue that left the audience speechless. He made a case for working within the political system to effect change. I could keep going with this description but it’s probably best that you just watch it.

Our second event, which was on the topic of Education, was my personal favourite. It brought out great discussion – it’s a topic that literally everyone has had experience with and as a result, there were some really interesting perspectives shared. Our featured poets were all teachers, which meant they all brought a great amount of enthusiasm and passion to their performances. An honourable mention also goes to Burt Williamson for his piece on University applications but in my opinion, Poetcurious stole the show with his performance on the night:

You’re apparently looking into expanding your operations and establishing an “Extra Second Essex” night. Tell us a bit about what you’ve got planned!

It’s still early days but that is something I’m definitely interested in developing. There are plenty of great poets in Essex but they generally end up having to travel in to London to attend poetry events as there is a real lack of events in their own local areas. So there is definitely a potential audience for an Extra Second night. I’ve had preliminary discussions with a few venues and potential local performers already, so watch this space!

You’re part of a hip-hop group called Futurology so tell us the future, Anees: for you, for Extra Second Poetry, for the world, what happens next?

Personally, I’m trying to get myself more involved in music again after a bit of an unintentional hiatus – although I love writing poetry that doesn’t rhyme and attending spoken word events, hip-hop is still my real passion. I’m looking to work with other musicians and hopefully start playing some solo gigs in 2017.

Extra Second in Glasgow is going from strength to strength. As well as their monthly poetry events, they’ve organised two discussion nights on the theme of Universal Basic Income this year, with speakers from across the political spectrum including former Deputy Head of the SNP, Jim Sillars. These have been fascinating events which have opened up a lot of dialogue and there is a third instalment coming up in December. They will also be holding similar discussions events on the topic of Climate Change next year.

Extra Second is also expanding to Aberdeen! Molly McLachlan, a regular attendee of the Glasgow event, has recently moved there and is hosting the first Extra Second Aberdeen this month. To be honest I know absolutely nothing about the poetry scene up there but am sure it’ll be a fantastic event that will really take off in the months to come.

The London event will be ticking along as is for the foreseeable future. I do have an interest in putting on discussion nights similar to the Universal Basic Income ones that were held in Glasgow so you may hear something on that within the next year or so…

As for the world? Well, given that every political prediction I’ve made in the last few years has proven to be spectacularly wrong, I think I’ll hold back on making any more of those for now.

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ZINEB EL RHAZOUI INTERVIEW

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ST. LUKE’S HUSTINGS 22/4/16

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REBLOGGED: SHAME ON THE LIBERALS WHO RATIONALISE TERROR

Nick Cohen: Writing from London

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From Standpoint
January/February 2016

After the massacres in Paris on November 13, the US Secretary of State John Kerry made a statement so disgraceful you had to read it, rub your eyes, and read it again to comprehend the extent of his folly: “There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry began in the laboured English of an over-promoted middle manager.

“There was a sort of particularised focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorise people.”

The staff of “Charlie Hebdo” in 2006: The cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Tignous and Honoré (first, second, fourth and fifth from left)…

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REBLOGGED: St Luke’s leaflets – a different approach

Del Thomas seems to be that most paradoxical of creatures: a decent Tory. Hopefully he’ll soon realise that a man cannot simultaneously serve society and serve a political ideology which asserts “there is no such thing as society” – but in the meantime, here he’s handily collected the various political leaflets that have started going out in St. Luke’s ward:

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St Luke’s indie leaflet

Make your voice heard1 –   my first leaflet for St Lukes

Labour’s St Luke voice

Newsletter1   – Jason Pilley (Green)

So, the first 4 leaflets have gone out in the battle for St Luke’s votes.

Now is about the time when normally a politician would start to nitpick over each other’s leaflets and criticising them and believe me, i have studied both of the other leaflets hard! But I started this campaign determined to be positive (whether you like my leaflet or not, i hope you will note that i havent attacked anyone else in it) and so this should continue with my blog.

This isnt easy and i am really tempted to let fly particularly at the Independent leaflet but instead I shall simply place all 3 leaflets in the one place so that the residents (and interested political anoraks!) can look at…

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“Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides.”

THE STROKE

A life
has been stomped upon.
And all our pleasant certainties are sunk,
And all the things you thought you owned
– legs
– arms
– words
are confiscated.
Dad: why didn’t you listen when I told you any pleasure that sits easily after the word “guilty” is no pleasure, it’s a predator in camouflage.
Why didn’t you listen when I told you demons are real and you pay to drink bottles of their piss every night, every night glug glug glug it away, why didn’t you listen
When you told yourself sitting watching endless TV quizshows glug glug glug chomp chomp chomp is no life, is a death in life, an injury to the brain.
Or maybe it had nothing to do with these little addictions,
The booze, the fast-food and the factoids –
Anyway we are built to break
Anyway white bones turn grey
Anyway we are meat turning black in Time’s oven
Anyway

Generous in a mean world
– Prisoner of inertia.
Bombastic in a small world
– Prisoner of inertia.
Romantic in a cold town
– Prisoner of inertia.
Couldn’t you have found a better way to quit that fucking job?
Clogged up and starved of life in that job:
This month’s wages is a hole in the head, is lying for God-knows-how-many hours on your floor by your radiator now off now on calling my name in a voice diminished.
The retirement you lived for is here.
The bright future is now and dark.
A mumbling monstrosity on a hospital-bed:
Today, my friend, is the first day of the rest of your death.