Ali’s Song: an old call for peace re-Activated

The latest poet to be featured on the lyw Youtube channel is a peace activist.  Michael R. Burch has many other titles but the selected poems that have been translated into lywtube all sound this particular chord.

Ironically, I received the green light from Mr. Burch to illustrate his poems about the same time that PBS ran their Vietnam War documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novak; a series that showed people from all different sides of that war who were so sure they were right at one time and not so sure at the end.  It is a very well-rounded and thorough documentary guaranteed to make me shamefully thankful that I don’t know war and hate to that extreme.

The poems, like this documentary series, do not make me regret taking time for very somber subject matter.  I consider it a privilege.  They remind me that the world is still healing from a past that we inherited.  The poet and the film-makers presented the subjects through intimate, human perspective, like meeting an injured family member who needs me to listen and care for him/her rather than some cold horror being reported on the evening news.

The first poetry video, Ali’s Song, is a poem that depicts Muhammad Ali’s stand against the draft into the Vietnam War and for equality.  The second poetry video, Survivors, is a short yet powerful perspective on the definition of a survivor.  The third, Something, is a poem dedicated to the children of the Holocaust and Nakba.  The first poetry video is loud, rhythmical and strong.  The other two are shorter but slower and quiet.

Ali’s Song … I hesitate to summarize anything about Muhammad Ali or his relationship with his country.  However, that stand he made makes a great ruler to measure oneself by.  Read the story (a version), ask yourself what or who you think was right?  What was wrong?  What would you have done?  He had so many people telling him he was wrong and so many reasons to doubt his decision.  And if he ever did, he didn’t show it.

I hope that I should be so ready to take as strong a stand as he did when an equally important choice is presented to me — and, that I am not wrong in my decisions.  That’s just it, isn’t it?  Yeah, we need more champions today, for sure, but with information being so suspect these days, how do we make sure what we do is right?

Ali’s public image as a heavyweight champion didn’t leave much room for talk about his soul and relationship with God but I think he would have really liked the references in this poem dedicated to him.

The other two poetry videos speak for themselves.  They may be a lot quieter and slower than Ali and Ali’s Song but they are just as strong.

I would like to invite you to please check out these new poetry videos on the lyw channel. The text is best viewed in the highest HD setting in Youtube.

Ali’s Song, a poem by Michael R. Burch:

2. Survivors, a poem by Michael R. Burch:

3. Something, a poem by Michael R. Burch:

© lyw 

This Rock Wears a Wild Crown

This Rock Wears a Wild Crown is a poem about a funny guy, royally stubborn in loyalty, steadfastness, inappropriate humour and recreational pugilism.  The zen quality of rocks and the flow of time has failed to smooth any part of this demeanour.

Ironically, this poem and character can be a great yet indirect support to overly-sensitive people or anybody stuck in their own heavy moods.  His inappropriate humour and proud opinions dumbfound sensitivity and disrupt both serenity and melancholy.

Despite his roughness, he is friendly.  Despite his offensiveness, he intends no harm. Despite his admiration for the art of war, he is honest – relatively – more honest than you’d expect, anyway.

And despite my persistent confusion over his approach to life, I can’t help but think he is searching for the same things as me – just in a more combative way.  What is that, ultimately?  Love?  God?  Maybe. I’ll only indirectly admit that in poetry.

I’d like to invite you to meet this character in the poem, this rock wears a wild crown; the latest video installment to the lyw channel on Youtube, promoting poets and poetry through online media, as well as a selected poem from the poetry chapbook, ya helu.

written by lyw

Have you Seen Poetry Yet?

Wildflower image c/o http://f.hatena.ne.jp/uralic/20120816053135

Poetry is the title of a film about a grandmother, from a small town in Korea, reacting to her current life and a recent local tragedy that has involved her family. Despite her age and the odds against her, she continues to try to better her circumstances by taking a poetry class.

The film itself is very visual and always gives just enough character and plot to keep your imaginations grasping for the rest of her; very much like the fragmented narrative style of modern poetry.

The main character is unable to plainly tell us or anybody how she really feels or what she is doing and why.  And never does.  At the end of the film … well, I’m a natural-born spoiler, so I won’t go any further about the contents of the movie.  Despite feeling quite melancholy after this 2 1/2 hour long film, I think it is worth seeing.  The story and main character are beautifully portrayed and I continued to think about the film for several days after seeing it.

Slide1As part of the poetry campaign for this blog, this week’s poetry video takes a sample from a poem within this film to entice you to either read the full poem or watch this film.

This is, by far, my favourite poetry video that I have done for the lyw channel on Youtube.  This poem so captures the delicate yet enduring quality of the main character of this film.  It was a pleasure to choose the quiet black and white photography to breathe with this meditative text.  I only wish I could have had the freedom to render the whole poem.

I don’t know if it’s a copyright thing but the entire poem is difficult to find on the Internet. The one I did find was not faithful to the English translation provided directly in the film. However, when I went back to the film to read the poem faithfully, I found the placement of periods and commas a little confusing there, as well.  Most likely, something was lost in translation. We just need to learn Korean, I guess, for the real version of the poem.

Please visit the following link to this week’s poetry video, sampling one of Poetry‘s poems:

blog written by lyw

Image Credits:

Who is Helweh, the Troll?

Slide1‘helweh, the troll’ is a poem about a character who seeks an answer to a question that is thrown upon her: ‘how do you earn a living?’ She is a mythical creature considering the human pursuit of financial security and quality of life. She is a character who finds herself in employment that does not suit her natural talents.

Written with affection and humour for somebody I know, as well as many people who I suspect have a little troll blood in them, she was a former co-worker who I shared many a coffee break and, back in that day, a smoke break. We worked many hours in the same business district and cultivated a strange balance of dedication to our work and finding time for our own personal well-being. She, unfortunately, had a shorter fuse and patience for office culture and never stayed at any job for long.  Funny as hell though and as long as I work downtown, I hope she does, too, even though she would prefer something else.  Office environments need people like her.

This quasi fairy tale / myth was written using the breadcrumb trail of poetry as the vehicle for narration.  The poem is part of the poetry chapbook, ya heluas well as this week’s addition to the lyw channel on Youtube, currently rolling out a poetry campaign making poets and poetry our daily treat and exercise.

When creating Helweh as my hero, I drew inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy. In this poem, Helweh’s character makes a hapless comparison between her journey and that of Dante’s epic journey through Hell and Purgatory towards Heaven.

Slide2In regards to Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, many years ago, I found this non-fiction book a compelling read that dissected the role of the hero in human myth and story. As well, this book left me with the hopeful idea that I am, or can be, the hero in my own life’s story – alas, a hope that I have often found disappointed ever since.  Still, it’s a beautiful and passionate book for a work of non-fiction and I don’t regret this aggravated kernel of hope imbedded in my heart. I humour it sometimes and it keeps me humble. At the end of the poem, I left Helweh with a possible answer to her riddle yet it is unknown if or how she will implement it.  If I, or my friend, have not lived up to the call-to-adventure, then perhaps this Helweh lass will.

As an aside, I remember having a cynical thought when I finished reading Campbell’s book, that today’s real world did not look for leadership from heroes or encourage the possibility of living heroes. It is as if the concept is left to fantasy, film and fiction; for those who wear capes and need special powers.

It was a wonderful journey writing this poem. I did not know how it would end or how I would help Helweh answer her question when I first began writing it.  I guess if I wanted to make myself feel better about Joseph Campbell’s book, I could say that I did answer a very subjective call-to-myself in this poem.

Thanks for reading this blog and please visit our latest link and video to the lyw YouTube channel:

written by lyw

Blog Image Sources:

Atlas Obscura Rakotz bridge: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/rakotzbrucke

Under the Mosswort Bridge: http://www.wizards.com/magic/images/cardart/LRW/Mosswort_Bridge_640.jpg