Man overboard! One of the grandfathers of the American people fell off the Mayflower in the middle of the Atlantic during a gale, but managed to grab a trailing rope, allowing him to reach the new land, and he now has an estimated 2 million American descendents.

The tale of John Howland, who served as John Carver’s servant on the Mayflower, is the subject of a new children’s book, “The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune.”

The book is the work of P.J. Lynch, an Irish author and illustrator.

The story of Howland may not be news to everyone — after all, there is a Pilgrim John Howland Society with around 1,200 members — but for most Americans, only a few of the better-known names are familiar.

“The idea that the existence of all these people hinged on that one guy grabbing a rope in the ocean and holding on tight totally caught my imagination,” Lynch told the Associated Press. “Many of these people have made America what it is.”

Including ex-presidents Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as Sarah Palin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and many others.

By James Haleavy

HK actor to give away entire $714million fortune to charity

Chow Yun-Fat, known to the West through the 2000 blockbuster “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” has been striving for a simple life, and now he’s going to give away his entire fortune, he recently told Hong Kong movie site Jayne Stars.

“My dream is to be a happy and normal person,” Yun-fat told Jayne.  “The hardest thing in life is not about how much money you earn, but how to keep a peaceful mindset and live the rest of your life in a simple and carefree manner.”

Yun-Fat reportedly lives on around $100 per month, taking public transit a lot of the time, doing charity work, using an inexpensive phones for decades, and wearing discount store clothing.

Yun-Fat also made news in 2014 when he met with pro-democracy students who were protesting China’s takeover of Hong Kong from the UK, and made statements in which he did not support the Chinese government or their police in using force against the students. When told he was blacklisted from making films in China, he replied, “I’ll just make less [films in China] then.”

Poetry Slam Madrid

On the first Wednesday of every month, Poetry Slam Madrid invades Bar Intruso for a few hours and a poetry slam event takes place. This reporter met with one of the organizers to find out a little bit more about the emerging art form.

In a bar in the La Latina area of Madrid, Jonathan Teuma sits across me from with his eyes wide and full of ideas and his goatee tufting out like two fingers to the powers that be. He very much puts me in mind of Gustave Courbet’s “Desperate Man,” and Jonathan, much like the painter himself, lives his life under no regime save for the regime of liberty, and he comes from a socialist agitator stock. When I first met this affable Gibraltarian, he had tucked under his arm book called “My Grandmother was an Anarchist” and we had a discussion about the pointlessness of nationalism, with me for and him against. This man, literally and figuratively, from between two worlds has travelled extensively this big world we all share, from Angola to England, and now to Madrid. Jonathan Teuma, as one of the coordinators of the Poetry Slam movement in Madrid, shows himself as a passionate promoter of the group.

The tenor of the poetry slam is generally a leftie one, with artists shouting, acting, musing, and condemning through the performance art of poetry slam. Every month, a guest poet opens proceedings by doing a reading and this is followed by local poets vying to win that night’s competition, as voted for by the crowd. It’s like Eminem’s 8 Mile but less depressing, more political, and equally as socially conscious.

“My poetry is a look at what is around me, it is mental digestion of what is around me, and a comment on that.”

Any prop used by a poet automatically disqualifies the poet and so the poet must solely rely on their voice, their body, and their passion. In my time observing them, the economic recession, forced evictions, abortion, religion, and a whole host of hot-button issues have been adapted into the poetry slam format. It is quite an experience to witness a slam as many of the poems are poor enough when read but when spoken are animated through the vocalizations of the modern equivalent of ancient poets passing down myths.

Jonathan is the embodiment of all aspects of Poetry Slam. His actions are theatrical and his voice seems catapulted from center stage. His family, on both sides and from both sides of the Civil War divide, escaped the increasingly intense conflict for the refuge of Gibraltar. His Great-Grandfather evaded Franco’s troops and was smuggled over by a reluctant fisherman and, for the second leg of the journey, by an off-duty policeman. His Great-Grandmother was smuggled children over into Gibraltar on one occasion, and other members of his family distributed anti-Franco propaganda in the south of Spain or were strike leaders. This lineage has had an influence on his poetry, with Jonathan stating that, “I have been put squarely on the left by my family,” and that, “My poetry is a look at what is around me, it is mental digestion of what is around me, and a comment on that. It is impregnated with a Leftist ideology.”

The Poetry Slam movement is quite international and it is arguably at its strongest in Germany. The movements around Spain are interlinked and they share poets for workshops up and down the country while poetry slammers from around the globe are invited to perform or sometimes eve ask on their own volition to participate. Starting this month, there will be a monthly English poetry slam that hopes to widen the net of the slam over the heads of new and aspiring performers.

It is a growing movement and if you want to witness it or participate, then call in to Bar Intruso, C/ Augosto Figueroa, 3. Its biggest value for me, after absorbing as much as I can, is that in a country such as Spain, where free speech is limited and protests harder to implement, the Poetry Slam Madrid movement is one way to verbalize and debate, the two key parts of any healthy democracy that are now essential in this democratically sick country where there are those trying to stop people using their voice.

By Enda Kenneally

← Previous post

Next post →

Comments are closed.