Love Poetry Hate Racism
All across the Globe throughout the month of April 2008
The weekend of April 18-20, 2008, will see as many as 50 cities all around the world organise Love Poetry Hate Racism events. These events will encompass everything from large scale events in big venues with feature poets, to Poetry in the Park with small groups of local readers, to local poetry groups turning over their monthly library readings to the topic of racism.
This is the second year Love Poetry Hate Racism events have been held around the world. In 2007, a group of poets based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a city known at the time as the “race hate capital of Europe”, decided to put out a call for poetry events to be held on the 20th April to provide a counter to the tendency to identify the day with intolerance, bigotry and the espousal of racist ideology because of its association with Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech. In this speech, delivered on the 20th April 1968, Powell suggested that people in Britain were being swamped by alien cultures. The speech was littered with racist ideas and provided the backbone for groups who wished to pursue anti-immigrant ideologies over the years since the speech was delivered.
We wanted also to provide a counter to the idea that the mixing of cultures was something that would lead to disaster. Actually we believe that it is the cross-pollination of the ideas of different cultures which breathes new life into our futures.
This year we have commitments from Warsaw to New York, from Auckland to Amsterdam and from Birmingham to Belfast. In fact we are already better represented around the world than we were last year.
The events come at a time when racist ideas are being stirred up everywhere; In the US elections accompanying the rise of Barack Obama as a serious contender for the nomination as Democratic candidate, in the new immigration laws being put into place in Britain, in the attempts recently in Britain to give credence to Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech.
Of particular concern to us is the persecution of Muslims which has been raised to fever pitch lately in our region. It looks possible that this year we may be welcoming for the first time this year poetry events which will run by poets from cities with a predominantly Muslim background.
Of course in each city where Love Poetry Hate Racism takes place there will be local issues which people will be seeking to address but our general approach will be the same. Love Poetry Hate Racism asks simply that people show respect to ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and migrants and that we stand together to encourage diversity.
Our starting point is that the interaction of cultures is essential for the progression of Art and with poetry in particular being an art form which provides us with common ground wherever we happen to be, we also suggest that society benefits from this multicultural interaction. Anyone who wants to organise a poetry event using those simple principles is welcome to do so.
We are also open to the idea that some people would like to be part of the events but worry about the moniker. That is simple to deal with, call your event “Celebrating Diversity Through Poetry” – and just affiliate to LPHR. This year the dates are flexible and events are being held in Galway, Ireland on April 11th and in Brisbane, Queensland in Australia on April 25th. That means there is a window of opportunity over 10 days. You can organise your own event or allow for an already existing event to be part of Love Poetry Hate Racism by simply informing us that you wish to do that.
If you intend to be part of the events happening all over the world on the weekend of April 18-20 or during the period from April 11th through to April 25th please contact the following following,