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The Times They Are A-Changin’ – fifty years on

The Guardian, 22 February, 2014 Fifty years ago this month, the 22 year old Bob Dylan released his third album, The Times They Are A-Changin, the acme and as it turned out the end of his “protest” period. Dylan renounced this genre so quickly, and took his fans on such a giddy journey afterwards, that… Read more

Poem: This morning’s surprise

‘This morning’s surprise’, a poem by Mike Marqusee, was a short-listed finalist for the 2011 Wells Literary Festival Poetry Prize. This morning’s surprise This morning’s surprise is how much I’ll miss rail travel. The green fields looming up and falling behind, the milky tea wobbling in a plastic cup, the engine’s steady vibration. This afternoon’s… Read more

Streets of the imagination

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, October-November 2011 Events over the summer brought to mind William Blake’s uncompromisingly angry poem “London”, written in the early 1790s under the impact of revolution in France and repression at home. The poet wanders “through the charter’d streets / near where the charter’d Thames does flow” where he encounters… Read more

“Life is possible on this earth”: the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, April-May 2011 On a bright winter morning we made a pilgrimage to the hill of Al Rabweh, on the outskirts of Ramallah, where the poet Mahmoud Darwish is buried. An ambitious memorial garden is planned, but at the moment it’s a construction site littered with diggers and cement mixers…. Read more

Bible bashing (lessons for the rich)

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, February-March 2011 A body of antiquated dogma and myth, a source of repression, paean to patriarchy, bulwark of hierarchy. That’s how many would summarise the Bible, and there are more than enough juicily quotable Biblical passages to justify that view. But there’s much more to this book – or… Read more

New poem

A new poem by Mike Marqusee published in the Norwich Writers’ Circle Annual Anthology The urbs on the hill The urbs on the hill is primitive: a density of angles, shadow slicing shadow, rooftops stilled in the dance of unplanned geometry, denizens safeguarded, except from each other. It’s a compact masterpiece. The sculpture of generations,… Read more

Not pop as we know it: flamenco and the quest for authenticity

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, Feb-March 2010 This article has appeared in a revised form on The Guardian’s Comment is free website. Flamenco is a name widely known but a music little understood, at least beyond its Andalusian heartland. Forget about Hollywood images of flounces and castanets. Even the bravura solo guitarists and dance… Read more

Saved by a wandering mind

Published by Level Playing Field, August 2009. A collection of poems written over the past twelve years. Here are two poems from Saved by a wandering mind: Privatising the underground Riding the thronged tube at dusk he sought above the heads of passengers an emptiness in which he could think simple, impersonal thoughts. This grasping… Read more

His will is only iron

A poem by Mike Marqusee published in Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on, poems in aid of the Red Cross, edited by Todd Swift His will is only iron The hosepipe snakes through lawns, green on green. The tank churns its dust- penumbra. At leisure, under licence, indecently arrayed in the cat-suit of decency, striding… Read more

Heeding the call

Poem published in Future Welcome: The Moosehead Anthology 10 edited by Todd Swift Heeding the call In the night-wind the house quakes. Its arthritic timbers mutter sarcastically, and chase me pyjama-clad into the empty, watchful garden. Agricultural vehicles like steel-limbed insects ply the lanes, igniting the hedgerows. Nettles probe the air. On patrol in the… Read more