Monday, January 19, 2015

Against the executions in Indonesia

Nothing is Made New

for those killed by ‘firing squad’ in the name of justice in Indonesia
and a plea for clemency for those awaiting this fate

Heavy weather over the rainforest
heavy weather over plantations and prisons;
when I think of Nusakambangan
I think of the black egret and mouse deer.

Midnight coats the sea with vitriol —
glass waves shatter with each crack of the air;
when colonial overlords withdrew, the bones
of those they’d crushed made walls for the future.

Prayers for clemency can’t break free,
trapped in the wood of buildings and furniture;
midnight ends one day but doesn’t begin another,
the living are made to suffer their end in sight.

Heavy weather is over the rainforest
heavy weather is over plantations and prisons;
when I think of Nusakambangan
I think of the black egret and mouse deer.

John Kinsella

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Concreted protest poem against bauxite mine at Morangup



These photos are taken outside the office of the mining conglomerate seeking to establish a massive bauxite mine at Morangup, just south of Toodyay. The conglomerate is inculcating itself into the community, as many mining companies do, mixing notions of beneficence and largesse, and suggesting that the local people’s standard of living will rise, without illustrating the long-term costs. The destruction of habitat is not correctable, despite what is all too often claimed, and what is left is an emptied shell of place and space.

The photos here are protest poems. They are words on an A4 page, working as protest slogan and concreted poem. I used this size paper rather than a larger ‘poster size’ format to capture the printed working page, to show the dynamism of the poetry page as space. The text on the page is inseparable from the context in which it is written, within the moment and location of protest, but its message is polyvalent and polysituated.

The idea of the ‘temporary local’ (only here when it suits) that underpins the mining conglomerate, their incursions into local social and business bodies, their making of a politics of extraction into a vanguard-of-benefits modus operandi, is typical of the industry. The proffered wealth attracts the greedy and the needy alike — such companies require both, and the anodyne middle ground who will hold opinions (either way) and do nothing. (I am not demeaning or challenging the needy here. I use the expression 'greedy and needy' in the context of how mining companies perceive their access points to community. Obviously I am using the expression within this 'diegesis'. The expression is glib because of the glib nature of the mining company's take on their potential employees and the communities in which they operate.)

The poem/text in these photos is a prompt to take the discussion out of its niches, to join with many other conversations and protests. I recall once being told my services were not required in a pro-refugee protest because someone already had the ground covered — as if I would be taking their ‘protest air’. When such cadre politics and politics of personality overtake the cause, the cause is damaged. The poem should be about the cause, to my mind, and in this case the minimalism of the text is an attempt to achieve this. Including myself in the photo is a registering of personal protest against the mine in dialogue with the text I created, but also independently of it. It is also assuming responsibility for the views expressed (as is Tracy’s taking of the photos). There are many vectors to any position we take and they all need to come into consideration.

    John Kinsella