In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Poet on the Team


Earlier this year there was a General Election in the UK. Beforehand, Theresa May had insisted she wouldn’t call one, but apparently changed her mind whilst out walking in the hills. Perhaps she saw a fox and got over-excited. For, as we all know, the election didn’t go well for her. The fox escaped and she lost her majority.

Since then, the Tory problem family has been tearing itself apart, even while engaging in disreputable ploys for hanging on to power, so that they can stagger balefully and without true mandate over the Brexit finishing line.

In doing so they will ensure that this nation is torn apart  – from our bearings, our history, our health, our integrity, our standing, our true place in the world.

And – further – from our future, our own young, who did not vote for this and whom Brexit is betraying.

What a sickening, poisonous story. What an inheritance. The impact of this dysfunctional Tory family upon our islands and our continent has long been, and continues to be, astonishing.

But for some people, the Summer election of 2017 went very well indeed. One such person was the MP for Bristol West, Thangam Debbonaire. She was already MP for that constituency, but in the course and as a result of the election, increased her majority by over 30% to more than 37,000. And that figure was just her majority.

Good going and, had the national news about the Tories’ overall loss of majority been less dramatic, the events in Bristol West might have made the national headlines. As it was, even the Telegraph commented on it.

But, outside Thangam’s campaign team, no one knows that throughout the campaign they had a secret weapon at their disposal. By agreement with Thangam, and for the duration of their arduous campaign, I had supplied a poem of mine every day to her and her team, as an email attachment. Pour encourager tous. Well. What else could account for their astounding success ?

I can’t guarantee that all the members of the team read each daily poem as it arrived in their communal in-tray. And I wouldn’t and shouldn’t have expected that. But I do know that the poems were read.

Here’s a comment from one of Thangam’s team, writing on behalf of the others, after the election had been won : “Dear Rogan, just a final word of thanks for your poems, which have perked us up in the occasional grey moments. Thank you!”

And this came from Thangam herself, in an immediate response to one of the poems, half way through the campaign : “Thanks Rogan, I particularly loved this one!”

The poem that struck her that busy and demanding day was an excerpt from a series called “Reflections on Stone.” Here it is :


Consider the options : –

strike down

the tribal demon

for at least a generation ;

travel a few feet

down the beach ;

or settle a millimetre

further into the sand.


In other words, do something. Don’t just settle.

After the election, I gathered all the poems into a brochure and delivered it to Thangam and her team as a single item. Perhaps inevitably, I called the brochure “Poems for the Campaign.”

But I didn’t mean just that particular local campaign which has led to a slightly more difficult communal trip towards the cliff-edge and absurd irrelevance than Theresa May was expecting. I mean any campaign for and towards health and sanity and community and renewal.

This larger Campaign has no end-date and will never not be difficult ; it needs a set of values to do with inclusiveness and empathy and the responsibilities of freedom, which are actually hard to keep clearly in sight and abide by and must be defended constantly ; it needs astonishing strategic and tactical ingenuity and originality, even genius ; and it needs great strength, guile and intelligent survival strategies. The poetry collection may take as long to complete as the campaign itself.

But with Thangam’s permission, I am publishing the collection as it presently stands, initially by just formatting it in pdf and linking to it here