A Wood in Somerset, Iraq
By Richard Lawson
Stone still in opalescent air
trees wait supportively.
Light splinters on new leaves.
Sun for the seventh day
blesses an English spring.
Two thousand lives away
this anticyclone fires up a storm
that drowns a nightmare world
in ochre light.
The peace I feel
leaning against the powerful fist
that grips the earth, cushioned with moss,
back shaped, kind as an elephant,
finds its reflection in a furious
of men who sleep walk,
fall on their mother's skin,
give screaming fire,
act and react,
but cannot take it in.
While birdsong fills my head,
sharp as the sunlight
sparking on those tiny points of green.
One hammer headed woodpecker,
knowing no better and no worse,
fires off his rounds.
I should be suffering,
but the world is folded at my side,
its front page images of death
have left off stirring
in this gentle air.
"A Wood in Somerset, Iraq"
the joint third position in the
Occupation Focus / Red Pepper Poetry Competition 2004
Dr Richard Lawson was born in
Hayling Island, Hampshire, UK in 1946, qualified in
medicine (Westminster Hospital) in 1969, and travelled
overland around the world in 1971-2. After seven years
of hospital psychiatry he transferred to general
He is a member of the Royal College
of Psychiatrists, and has been in general medical
practice in Congresbury, North Somerset since 1979. He
has been a UK Green Party member since about 1977,
holding various national offices including Co-Speaker.
Married, with three children, he
enjoys gardening, cycling, roller hockey, windsurfing,
sand yachting, plays the flute, writes poems, short
stories and songs, and is an ex-handglider pilot. He has
a number of inventions, chiefly a double film, flexible
aerofoil sail which he has been developing steadily for
a number of years. He is a Quaker and a member/supporter
of numerous socially conscious organizations.
More information can be found at
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Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
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The Warmth of Other Suns
The Epic Story of America's Great
By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a
sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi
for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin
was falsely accused of stealing a white
man's turkeys and was almost beaten to
death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling,
a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem
after learning of the grove owners'
plans to give him a "necktie party" (a
lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster
made his trek from Louisiana to
California in 1953, embittered by "the
absurdity that he was doing surgery for
the United States Army and couldn't
operate in his own home town." Anchored
to these three stories is Pulitzer
Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's
magnificent, extensively researched
study of the "great migration," the
exodus of six million black Southerners
out of the terror of Jim Crow to an
"uncertain existence" in the North and
Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates
sociological and historical studies into
the novelistic narratives of Gladney,
Starling, and Pershing settling in new
lands, building anew, and often finding
that they have not left racism behind.
The drama, poignancy, and romance of a
classic immigrant saga pervade this
book, hold the reader in its grasp, and
resonate long after the reading is done.
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update 4 February 2012