Never Too Late by Malcolm London

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, a meditation on the power of family, community and love from Chicago-based poet Malcolm London and filmmaker Caves for Heart Of The City TV, in collaboration with Irish graffiti artist Maser. It was posted to YouTube in December 2013 with this description:

Chicago met Dublin a little over a month ago when we linked with Malcolm London and renowned Irish graffiti artist Maser for their “Never Too Late To Love” collaborative mural. Today, we drop the visuals. Enjoy.

If you’d like to check out the mural go to La Baguette Bakery’s alley on 2109 S Ashland Ave (at 21st St).

I looked up Malcolm London today because he’s in the news, but unfortunately not in a good way: he’s one of five activists who were arrested by Chicago police last night for what sounds very much like the usual trumped-up bullshit used by American police to punish people for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly:

One of the five protesters arrested in the Loop in the hours after the release of the Laquan McDonald video is an aspiring poet who has garnered national attention and was one of the organizers of the march.

Malcolm London, 22, of the 4900 block of West Huron in the Austin neighborhood, was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, a felony, after he allegedly struck a cop, according to the Police Department.

He faces the most serious charge of those arrested during the demonstration, which lasted for hours and briefly stopped traffic on the Eisenhower Expressway.

London is accused of striking an officer in the 100 block of East Balbo Drive as police blocked protesters from marching across the bridge. He is scheduled to appear in bond court later Wednesday.

Supporters have created a Free Malcolm London hashtag and have urged people to call police to demand that he be released.

“He was just standing there and the police snatched him up,” tweeted the Black Youth Project 100, which organized Tuesday night’s march. London is listed as a co-chair of the organization’s Chicago chapter.

London is a member of the Young Adult Council of the Steppenwolf Theater and appeared on PBS for a TED Talk with John Legend and Bill Gates. In 2011, he won the Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry slam in his Chicago, according to a biography on his website.

In 2012, just graduated from Lincoln Park High School, London talked to the Tribune about growing up in Austin and how it affected his work.

“There are a lot of kids like me in places like this, places kind of pushed into the shadows by the people who run this city,” he said. “We have stories to tell, stories not told in the news and media. I am getting the chance to tell mine, and others can too.”

In September of that year, he made his national television debut in “Verses & Flow,” a series that features musical and poetry performances.

(Read the rest.) Three of the five activists are charged only with “resisting police officer,” which is one clear sign that this is B.S. Follow the #FreeMalcolmLondon hashtag on Twitter for updates. Please consider helping Malcolm and the other arrested activists raise money for their bond so they can get home for Thanksgiving. And be sure to visit Malcolm’s website for more videos of him performing his poetry.

UPDATE (25 Nov., 7:56 PM): The charges against Malcolm London were dropped and he was released this afternoon.

[A]fter an outcry from fellow activists, who said London did not hit an officer and was standing peacefully when he was targeted by police and arrested, the charges against London were dismissed Wednesday afternoon.

We grow accustomed to the Dark by Emily Dickinson

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An animation by Hannah Jacobs, part of a series called “Poetry of Perception” for the Harvard University course Fundamentals of Neuroscience. Here’s the Vimeo description:

An eight-part series ( on representations of perception and sensation made for “Both artists and scientists strive, even if in different ways, toward the goal of discovering new uniformities or lawful regularities.” Hermann Helmholtz

Words by Emily Dickinson
Animation by Hannah Jacobs
Narration by Anna Martine
Sound + Music by Oswald Skillbard
Produced by Nadja Oertelt

Hat-tip: Cinematic Poems, a blog somewhat like Moving Poems that’s dedicated to what it calls “an important emerging creative short film genre.”

No Regrets ( Не жалею, не зову, не плачу…) by Sergei Yesenin

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A film by John Deryl, who also supplied the voiceover using the English translation by Andrey Kneller. The YouTube description includes a process note:

Usual people don’t see many things around them. This piece shows what usually happens in my mind when I walk on the street. This morning I did not plan to make a film, but I happened to take my camera with me, and it resulted in this video. So I filmed it, found the right poem and narrated, chose the right music, mixed, edited, and color graded everything in about 6 hours. And now you have a chance to be in my mind for some time.

La canción del espejo / Song of the Mirror by Rafael Courtoisie

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A powerful new film from the Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe in response to a poem by the Uruguayan writer Rafael Courtoisie, which is included in the soundtrack. London-based translator and poet Jean Morris supplied the English translation used in the subtitles, a collaboration which I’m happy to say I had a small role in bringing about. The music is by Four Hands Project, and the actresses are Mercedes Castro and Montse Gabriel.

Body, remember (Θυμήσου, Σώμα) by C. P. Cavafy

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A gorgeous film from 2003 by the London-based animation artist Katerina Athanasopoulou, with an English translation of a poem by Cavafy (Kavafis) in the soundtrack. Click through to Vimeo for additional credits and a list of selected screenings.

Here to Stay by Srikandi Larasati

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A nicely minimalist film by the Dutch artist Jan Kees Helms featuring Indonesian-Dutch poet Srikandi Larasati reciting a poem about the contributions of refugees and other immigrants.

Home by Warsan Shire

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This is Home is the barrel of the gun by Dutch filmmaker Paultje Piraat. The music is by Renato Folgado, with the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire reading her poem “Home” in the soundtrack.

With the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, the poem has received a great deal of attention online and in the press. An article in The Guardian provided some background:

“No one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark. You only run for the border / when you see the whole city / running as well.” This evocative stanza from poet Warsan Shire’s Home hit a nerve online recently as the European public finally woke up to the reality of the refugee crisis. Explaining, in short verses, the unthinkable choices refugees must take, Shire writes: “no one puts their children in a boat / unless the water is safer than the land.”

The young Nairobi-born, London-raised writer first drafted another poem about the refugee experience, Conversations about home (at a deportation centre), in 2009 after spending time with a group of young refugees who had fled troubled homelands including Somalia, Eritrea, Congo and Sudan. The group gave a “warm” welcome to Shire in their makeshift home at the abandoned Somali Embassy in Rome, she explains, describing the conditions as cold and cramped. The night before she visited, a young Somali had jumped to his death off the roof. The encounter, she says, opened her eyes to the harsh reality of living as an undocumented refugee in Europe: “I wrote the poem for them, for my family and for anyone who has experienced or lived around grief and trauma in that way.”

Shire was something of a phenomenon well before this poem became famous, though. The New Yorker wrote about her last month: “The Writing Life of a Young, Prolific Poet.”

Her poetry evokes longing for home, a place to call home, and is often nostalgic for memories not her own, but for those of her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, people who forged her idea of her ancestral homeland through their own stories. With fifty thousand Twitter followers and a similar number of Tumblr readers, Shire, more than most today, demonstrates the writing life of a young, prolific poet whose poetry or poem-like offhand thoughts will surface in one of your social media feeds and often be exactly what you needed to read, or what you didn’t know that you needed to read, at that moment.

And sure enough, I first encountered her work this past weekend, when a stanza from a poem she wrote in 2011 was being passed around in image-meme form in reaction to the Da’esh attacks in Paris. I shared it to my Facebook feed, where it quickly racked up more likes and shares than anything I’ve posted all year.