The Best of A Bad Situation

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This one I have been chomping at the bit to get stuck into. Finding that spare chunk of time to really give this poetry release the attention it deserves. Just what I’ve seen of Spoken Word poet Jamie Thrasivoulou gives me the flutters. Truth is at the heart of this vessel and it will be ugly, it will be beautiful and it will stay with you for a long time.

What first strikes you is the song, his cadence, his approach is sometimes pure jazz. You hear the beat of the old Beats, but this is new and it restarts the heart. So with thumb and middle fingers ready we click into,

But 

the mind is:

a bombastic chasm

waiting on self destruction

So here we are, ready to receive a blast. I know it’s coming. This piece rumbles and boils, maybe even has a little romance…

Common Sewerage Problem is the dead march, when you are the unheard part of a system that doesn’t care, which barely wants to keep you alive, being all too prevalent in the UK and around the world. We hide our faces, quash our empathy when our roles should be to help one another. It’s poetry like this that sickens in just the right way, the word changers, the fight has just begun.

Distinctly working-class in every way” this mantra pounding That Pebbledash Finish. Jamie’s theme is rendered here, defiant that his voice will be heard. His streets are full of drugs, that ‘commodity‘ of the bored and hurt and in The Reformed Economist Jamie takes the lifestyle and throws it back at those in power. Two ponderers hit us, A True Liar and Options, where he contemplates to ‘de-educate myself in order to make a living’ the truth of the personal sell out.

Anxiety Pipped Me To The Finish Line… opens up to a new mind set. The spleen resting allows Jamie to get to the heart of himself, where he is at. This is no less traumatic, the streets and fields of our homes has dangerous prospects especially under the influence of mind altering substances, inner demons ready to rise and take on whoever happens to be walking by. Some good slick lines roll out in Steve Slash & The RDT, workmates to the rescue with piss filled Johnnys and wake up calls.

There are great words of advice in Hibernation, while Reflections rambles on the left side of unconsciousness. The motley crew that exists on Anywhere Street, James’s Derby dreary of “intoxicated philosophies” is an eye opener. On Tag is an atmospheric crime scene, then it’s onto this tomes title track and I say track with thought because these poems sing.

The Best Of A Bad Situation, three moments, I, II, III, reversed in its chronology, a glimpse into a time of bad judgement and its consequences, paced by a wild boy out of control. It is stark, it has memory loss and too many memories, while IV is the turning point here, the cloud lifter. Even the physical page seems clearer, the map for a new path. But there are still loads of experiences to surface poetic. Beneath A Banana Moon, ready for a fight, adrenalin switches, as the situation is “down-lifted by the up-trodden prey I pursue

Believe me, it can get heavy in here, so Duck and Raw Fish vs. Cooked Fish help me repose, loosen my brow and ready to take on Anthem For The Racist White Trash. The message here is clear, the insane beliefs from utter mouth breathers that immigrants and refugees are “taking our jobs you dream“. Jamie’s argument is a beauty to read.

I adore Won’t Turn To Dust, “free thought, forgotten courage” the slow seep of messages like these to strengthen the silenced. Dead Letters has me riling at the incompetence and politics of council not replacing a destroyed red correspondence receptical then cracking up two pages on at surprise reply poem About That Postbox… mystery solved, awed by the motive, excited about the delivery. Then there is the wise Who’s Der Clevrist Man Yer Know? This is a spin out twister that makes so much sense. Another mind altering night spent with another fine poet, our evening closing fast and we hear about a day in the life of Hunting Snow In A Blizzard, the waiting, the watching, the fix. Then there is Reimagining Yeroskipou unfeigned and loving, Jamie’s heritage remembered. Last pages are always hard to take especially when one has enjoyed the experience, but The Old Enemy and The Blemish round it out perfectly, learned from his past, not knowing the future, his now… ‘distinctly working-class in every way’, Truth.

You can purchase The Best Of A Bad Situation from Silhouette Press. You can keep up with new releases, projects and spoken word events via Jamie’s blog and follow him via twitter.

 

 

Poetry Reviews Silhouette Press

The Africa In My House

by Andrea MbarushimanaDGhAon3U0AAEFl0

This was a surprise addition to my order from the generous publishers at Silhouette Press. A deep red sunset boomed from the package, tribal masks and shields protecting its contents. I could hear the voices inside. The Africa In My House is a book of poetry, stories and events, touching through the troubled country of Rwanda, picking at time and looking at events that author Andrea Mbarushimana experienced there, the echoes of genocide and trying to fathom why, hoping that it will never occur again.

Andrea manages to beautifully mingle legend, mythology and her experiences to help herself and those who want to know, understand and cope with a country she now has a better understanding of.  Her words and illustrations are totally mesmerising.  Visitations that permeate dreams, her psyche deciphers it with ink and words. The original purpose of her stay there is not really established. I get the feeling that some humanitarian work, maybe teaching drew her there, where she fell in love, where her experiences have permanently connected her to the place. Her daughter a special link to keeping the threads of heritage in their hearts.

Rwanda became the country where horror stories overtook the rich tapestry of fable. Its displacement after colonial rulers abandoned, chose a side and said sort it out amongst yourselves was never going to be a pleasant start. Here, Andrea never glosses, these are hundreds of minds flowing through her, continuing lessons, making us aware of the complexities of tribe and the flow of the modern.

The imagery Andrea describes directly transports you to the village life and painful memories. One of the strongest to encounter and first to bite is Hyena pointing out the  dichotomy and dilemmas faced when the wrangled lost and desperate follow orders. When one’s own survival could be at the hand of another’s compassion. This story unfolds with high tension. When it is just your job and the consequence of not following orders is a moral conundrum that one can only know the answer to if put in that situation. When the realisation that ‘we are two people” overides the political.

Murambi Genocide Site, passes over the extreme “It’s hard to find your way sometimes, Past death’s mask“. The horrors that have been witnessed, memory’s ghost imagined, thoughts shared to help the healing. Rabbit is another squirmish, told with an exquisite meticulous pace, the process a recipe that is merely survival.

There are loads of survivors that Andrea has met and not met. You get the feeling that Andrea needed to be the storyteller here, this is her healing and we as readers are one the richer. There is no glossy sentimentality but there is true beauty here. Andrea slips in and out effortlessly of styles and intensity. The beautiful haiku of Kigeme, the questioning of when it is right to go back in Healing and the sublime Folk Tale Resurrection. In Power Cuts 2001 a time when the country is trying to return to some semblance of sanity. “Ce nest pas le guerre!” humour is such a rich healer. When the power goes out in, the difference between the same occurrence in Rwanda and in the U.K is an interesting one. There is a constant back and forth of place and contrasts throughout that become dreamlike. There are longer stories like God Of Shadows that are such an odd mixture of cult, west meets witch doctor revealing a fear so potent that one can’t believe the trauma it inflicts.

Dipped between chapters are Andreas prints. As Andrea is a masterful story teller, you can understand why her prints also contain enough drama and information to sink you. The plight of people in Refugee Art Group, the mere suggestion of the day’s painting topic of favourite food from home has me crying and when love became something certain in Gatyazo Bar, I was humbled. More stories, more poetry. I adore the strength, beauty and eccentricities of the people she met and the people whose lives she chose to speak of here now, forever remembered. You can purchase The Africa In My House via Silhouette Press. You can connect with Andrea via twitter.

Andrea Mbarushimana Book Review Poetry Silhouette Press