Poetry for Palestine: Writing Peace

A few weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post by Donal O’Kelly, one of Ireland’s most talented writers and actors, about a festival commemorating the destruction of Gaza last July.

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PALFEST IRELAND LAUNCH

O’Reilly Theatre,

Belvedere College, Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1

Wednesday 8th July @ 6pm

 

PalFest Ireland, an unprecedented arts festival of more than 50 events in support of Palestine, timed to mark one year after the Israeli bombardment of Gaza that left 2200 Palestinians dead including 556 children, will be officially launched in

 

The O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, reception beginning at 6pm on Wednesday 8th July 2015.

 

The event will include Palestinian poems read by members of Ireland’s Palestinian community including Fatin al-Tamimi, music by Colm Mac Con Iomaire of The Frames, and the festival will be introduced by esteemed Irish artist Robert Ballagh.

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A full programme of events will be announced, covering all artforms, including more than fifty events in Dublin and nationwide, involving more than 300 artists. PalFest Ireland represents a resounding challenge from Ireland’s arts community to long-term Israeli aggression against Palestine.

 

PalFest Ireland is a voluntary-run arts festival organised by Irish Artists in support of Palestine to demonstrate solidarity between the Irish arts community and the people of Palestine.

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What a nice night for a ramble. Balmy. Full moon too. A full moon is said to be a good time to plant a seed, something to do with tides. Two weeks ago at the APAC conference ( thanks Jo Mangan) a seed was planted in my head listening to the brilliant Icelandic poet/politician Birgitta Jonsdottir. She gave a speech entitled Artist as Activist. She spoke about how the people of Iceland, artists included, acted in defence of the people of Iceland after the financial crises there. A mere poet, now one of the countries leading politicians, or a poetician as she prefers to be called. She spoke about Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning and the importance of whistleblowers. A seed was also planted in my head 2 years ago when I went on the boat to Wales with Donal O’Kelly, Sorcha Fox Andy Storey and a few others to act, as artists, in solidarity with whistleblower Chelsea Manning whose grandfather was from Rathmines and who blew the whistle on US military war crimes in Iraq. The Manning TruthFest was there in solidarity with Chelsea’s Welsh/Irish family. As we see the financial crisis play out in Greece you wonder if the activists there will be as successful as Iceland. Its the same struggle. What opportunity is there in Greece for an artist now? In Ireland too there are artists/activists beginning to take on the might of of the financial terrorists and war mongering elite who will stifle any sign of art and life if they are left unchallenged. I saw many of them in Sligo at APAC. I’ve been working with many of them for the last 6 months to put PalFest together. PalFest challenges the cruel genocidal regime enforced on Palestinian people, it blows the whistle on the extraordinary collective punishment inflicted on the whole nation there, artists included. No artist in Palestine can dance, sing, paint or act in those circumstances. So we must do that for them. In solidarity until they can do that freely themselves. Next week you can join in if you so wish. All these things are not unconnected. The taxpayers money is being sucked against the tide into busted banks and massive war machines that inflict these daily miseries on whole nations like Greece/Palestine/Iceland/Ireland instead of flowing into the arts or hospitals or education or anything useful or life-giving. The people of all these countries are suffering through various degrees of this same system, some countries (Palestine) disturbingly more than others. We can all challenge that system, as artists, as people, as whatever and in whatever way we can. And the time to do it is now. Swim with the tide. Act in solidarity and act in defiance of the life sucking system that would have us slaves to the anti-life, art-hating, money hungry so called elite. Anyway, thats my rambling over with. But if you’re out for a ramble yourself, nows a good time to plant a seed.

– Andy Cummins, PalFest Ireland

2nd July 2015

51 days. It went on for 51 days. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza that started on 8th July last year, killing 2200 Palestinians, including 556 children.   Read more ›