Culture

1 October 2021Comment

Ambrose Musiyiwa meets the poet Catherine Okoronkwo

Recently, I interviewed the poet Catherine Okoronkwo, who is the advisor on racial justice to the bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, helping to deliver on commitments made following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol.

Okoronkwo, who was born to Nigerian parents and grew up in the Middle East, is currently vicar of All Saints and St Barnabas in Swindon.

Okoronkwo sees her father, who passed away recently, as one of…

8 December 2020Review

Dissent Games, 2019; £29 plus p&p. www.disarmthebase.com; dissentgames [at] gmail.com

From the household copy of Risk to the paintable figurines of Warhammer to the eternal Chess, war is a fixture of many boardgame genres. Why then should it be so surprising when a game designer subverts the expected formula of war games: lots of little men being pushed around a board and then falling over?

Jessica Metheringham’s Disarm The Base does just this.

The goal of the game is not to kill people but to disarm warplanes that will be used against…

8 December 2020Review

Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Tues — Sun until 8 March. Free.

Play Well is a wonderful, joyful, mind-prodding exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in Central London on the importance of play in child development, in mental healthiness and emotional resilience.

It reaches from Rousseau’s treatise on education to computer gaming. The pedagogies of play shaped Paul Klee’s art, Buckminster Fuller’s design, the Bauhaus movement and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and from town planning to identity politics toys and psychotherapy.

8 December 2020Comment

It's too important not to sing just now, says Penny Stone

When the world is in such a turbulent state, it can seem hopeless to ‘just’ sing songs.

I am a great believer in music and action working together, but it is also true that simply singing songs can help to change ideas and perceptions (for better or for worse!).

Music is powerful – if singing songs wasn’t a powerful human act, then governments and dictators wouldn’t bother to ban them.

To give a few of examples, Edwin Starr’s ‘War – yeah, u-huh, what is it good for?!…

8 December 2020Comment

Pat Gaffney reviews the new biopic of Franz Jägerstätter

It is not often that we see our peace heroes on the big screen. It can be a source of great joy or a complete disaster. So it was with some anxiety that I watched A Hidden Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick, telling the story of Franz Jägerstätter and his wife Franziska (‘Frani’).

The name may be familiar to readers. Franz was an Austrian conscientious objector who refused to serve in Hitler’s army and who was executed in Brandenburg an der Havel in 1943.

18 November 2020Review

PM Press, 2018; 128pp; £11.99

The physician and award-winning writer Michael Blumlein, started his career as a medical researcher in San Francisco. Published in 1988, his first science fiction novel, The Movement of Mountains, set the tone for his subsequent work: short stories, essays and novels merging science fiction, fantasy and horror and featuring his own signature perspective on the human species. His stories are imbued with a deep sense of social justice and individual freedom - as well as a good dose of…

1 December 2019News

Bangor city council follows Aberystwyth’s lead

For once, the sun shone on Remembrance Sunday as poppy wreaths were laid across Wales.

This year, , officially laying a white poppy wreath alongside their traditional red one.

Aberystwyth saw an additional five white wreaths from local groups plus a purple wreath for animal war casualties.

After the official parade, Côr Gobaith sang songs of peace at the Aberystwyth Peace Tree, including Sue Gilmurray’s ‘The Ones Who Said No’, which ends with the words: ‘Cry…

1 October 2019Feature

Emily Johns celebrates Joan Littlewood's 'university of the streets'

Penny Dimond reading Joan Littlewood’s description of a Fun Palace from a ladder, October 2018, Torriano Meeting House. Photo: NEW FACTORY OF THE ECCENTRIC ACTOR

Imagine a place where the latent genius in all of us becomes ripe, expresses itself and communicates with others.

A place where the human mind and human creativity explore the arts and the sciences for the delight of being alive.

No certificates are awarded at this university, no prospectuses have to…

1 October 2019Comment

PN surveys the winners and shortlists of two British radical book prizes

These are the winners and the shortlisted books for two British radical book prizes given by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers.

The Little Rebels’ Children’s Book Award is a radical fiction award for readers aged 0–12. This year the award has been administered by Letterbox Library and Housmans Bookshop.

The winner for 2019, announced on 10 July, is Freedom by Catherine Johnson (Scholastic): ‘There’s no escape – even when you escape. Where can a slave like Nat…

1 October 2019Comment

Penny Stone takes to the street to defend UK parliamentary democracy

This weekend, we found ourselves in the unexpected position of having to demonstrate in the streets to try and preserve parliamentary democracy in our own country.

As a system, it’s far from perfect, but I’m sure most of us agree it’s a lot better than a potential Brexit dictatorship with Johnson at the helm.

Thousands of people gathered in the streets all over the UK to witness their opposition to the closing down of the Westminster parliament.

In Edinburgh, I met a…

1 August 2019News

Barbara Lindsay

AWCI members proudly dish out their delicious food. Photo: Kareem Abdelraheem

When the Morlan Centre of Faith and Culture in Aberystwyth asked the Arabic Women’s Communty Initiative (AWCI) to host an event, we felt ‘The Great Get Together’ would be perfect for the AWCI to invite the wider public to an Arabic-flavoured evening. The Great Get Together brings communities together once a year in events inspired by Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered on 16 June 2016.

The AWCI first…

1 August 2019News

Radical choirs make waves in Aberystwyth

Over the weekend of the 7–9 June, the streets of Aberystwyth reverberated with the sound of singing in at least three languages – Welsh, Norwegian and English – as Aberystwyth’s Côr Gobaith hosted Norwegian socialist choir SJOKK, Pales Peace Choir from Powys, and Cardiff’s renowned Côr Cochion. SJOKK (‘shock’) was founded in 1981 to ‘spread socialist and humanistic ideas and values through singing and music’.

The event was a result of a chance meeting at the 2018 Street Choirs…

1 August 2019Comment

Using song to resist the dehumanisation of marginalised communities

This year has seen some of the most widespread actions against the demonisation and mistreatment of migrants in the USA. As institutional treatment of human beings gets worse, more and more people are singing out their opposition.

At the end of June, 36 people were arrested in New Jersey for blocking the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centre, crying out at the unacceptable conditions children are being held in.

The beginning of July saw another mass…

1 August 2019Review

Pluto Press, 2017; 224pp; £12.99

Music resonates in all corners of our lives. ‘It walks us down the aisle and marches us off to war.’ Dave Randall manages to sing music’s political praises while keeping his feet on the ground, siphoning the best of what has been thought about music into a book that is straightforward, intimate and downright delightful.

As a performer himself, Randall is no armchair theorist. We are with him as he plays with the band Faithless; and later pogo past him in a rave. Here in the club,…

1 June 2019Feature

The shadow collector

The Shadow Collector. On 7 August 1945, the day after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Shogō Nagaoka, a geologist from Hiroshima University, began walking through the city collecting rubble. The A-bomb’s heat burned shadows of vapourised people and objects onto streets and buildings and it changed the formation of rocks. Nagaoka filled his rucksack and then his house with specimens. He believed they were vital to telling the story of Hiroshima: ‘These articles that cannot talk will one day…