The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
We are all free, there are no slaves
in England, as we celebrate civilised centuries,
escaping the past we choose to forget.
We have broken chains of cause and effect,
snapped the links that chafed and bound
to the embarrassing empire we have left behind.
We are free to sip coffee, flown
from starving children, barefoot and beaten,
fingers deep in poisoned earth,
to linger on the gold, the fine jewel,
dragged from darkness by numb hands
rubbed raw on tightening bonds.
And over our cities, Victorian eyes
brood in senseless stone, proud
and blind to streets they built from blood
where painted girls in sweatshop clothes
trade their bodies for nothing with men
they don’t understand. We are all free.
Oz Hardwick is York-based writer, photographer and musician who has published three well-received poetry collections, most recently The Illuminated Dreamer (Oversteps, 2010). Over the past year or so, he has read in venues from Glastonbury to Chicago and has worked with other writers, musicians and film makers for performances from the South Bank Centre to Perth (Australia). An academic by day, Oz is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University College, where he is Programme Leader for English and Writing.