Multi-voice and protest

Multi-voice and Protest

by Ashby McGowan

Ahimsa.                                                                                                                          

I have spent many years studying Buddhism and Jainism. My understanding of the relevant scriptures is that there are two types of Ahimsa that can be employed by adherents of either religion. In “non-active ahimsa”, the person tries not to harm any creature. They do not try to change others because their own actions may be rooted in ignorance and so cause more harm than good. This is a very sensible position and is my default position for deciding on day to day matters e.g. what I say and what I do. One is not merely doing nothing. One is deciding after deliberation that it is best in this instance not to take any action that involves trying to change the views and perceptions of others. One is not just a passive observer. Mindful non-active ahimsa can change the person who is doing the deliberation.

A person who lives a life of “non-active ahimsa” is still questioning the actions that they take that affect others. For instance, they will use kind words that are useful. They will be vegetarian.

However, I think that after a lot of research into a particular area of concern – where animals or humans are being harmed – that you may take action. I call this, “active ahimsa”. Using “active ahimsa” one tries to change oneself and also try to change “others”. “Others” can be the person or group engaged in wrongdoing. It could be those on the street who are watching the protest you are taking part in. As you are taking strong action the onus is on you to be pretty sure that you are doing the right thing and saying the right thing. But you can never be certain that you are right in every case. And you must also re-evaluate – after doing an action – whether that action has been successful.

There are two main actions that I take in my life that I hope are correctly aimed at helping other beings. Firstly, I take part in protests and marches where I am pretty certain that I am doing the right thing and that the group I am with is doing the right thing. I am an animal rights and human rights activist.

The second type of action that I take is writing and performing multi-voice poetry.

 

Multi-voice Poetry.

Knowledge. Using a multi-voice poetic format tends to mean you having to research an area that you will be writing about: like child labour. You then make sure that you write with concern for all involved in the chosen subject area.

You can then (for example) create words that give both sides to a dispute. Hopefully, you will skilfully illustrate the moral correctness of one particular view point. But, in most cases, there is more than one viewpoint and you will bear this in mind. Give respect to every viewpoint no matter how blinkered you think it is.

Multi-voice poetry allows vocal effects to emphasise the arguments given in the poem. For instance, chaotic sounds where performers are talking over each other emphasises disharmony. Using more than one performer to present the audience with ideas that are in harmony can be supported by words that build up sympathetic rhythms when used at the same time.

The performers in a multi-voice poem usually bond very well with each other as they each feel that they are part of a larger “truth”. When I have performed single voice poetry you sometimes get some competitiveness between poets. Not so with multi-voice.

So, I am asking people who read this to consider writing multi-voice poems with whatever group they are part of: drama, poetry, anti-racism groups etc. When they perform the pieces they will be changing themselves and changing the audience. I have been writing and performing multi-voice poetry for ten years now. It works!

If you need help with setting out the poem, please email me. I genuinely want to set up multi-voice groups around the world.

HOW TO WRITE A PARTICULAR MULTI-VOICE POEM. I will now take you through the writing scenario for my much asked for multi-voice poem, Peace.

Firstly, I looked at various Wars around the World. I wanted to have two opposing voices shouting at each other. Both in favour of war. One is Hate and the other War.

I wanted a narrator’s voice to give the reasons for Peace. I also thought that simply saying the word Peace would be effective. There are accordingly four viewpoints (spoken by five actors in the film).

The two aggressive characters speak at the time and disrupt one another’s words. And that is intentional. When they are not speaking I can let the other voices speak for Peace.

At the end of the poem, I appeal to the audience (through the actors) to say with the performers the word, Peace. I believe that words have power.

Please look at the last poem on the link to Poems Against War part 2.

Any poems on my website can be used as long as I am given a credit at the performance. I also have sets of multi-voice material which I could be talked into letting others use for free. The Peace poem can be used if I am given a credit. But it would be good for you not to copy the poem but to use a similar style to deal poetically with another particular area of concern to you e.g. Domestic Violence. There you could have the same number of views. And you could employ the same aural tactics to win over the audience. All poems are copyright of Ashby McGowan

I am (honestly) trying to start up multi-voice groups around the World. Please contact me if you are interested. And please look at the film links.

Some multi-voice work:

A recently filmed poem about Humanity, Equality, and Dignity.

Chromatic Voices 2 Live at Seeds of Thought

(performing, Poems Against War.)

link to part 2

Ashby McGowan

AMcGowan@cleveden-sec.glasgow.sch.uk

                                 Peace

 

WAR (loud)     HATE (loud)       NARATTOR                                                   PEACE

War Oil                  Hate Oil                   ……..                                                                       …….

Gun’s roar             Plane soar                ……                                                                         …….

…….                          …….    There is a word that is as yielding as water in a desert    …….

……                            …….                          …….                                                                       Peace

Cannon’s fire         Anger Fire                …….                                                                        …….

Flesh burn              Stomach churn        …….                                                                        …….

…….                            …….            A magic spell that soothes discordant noises              …….

…….                             …….                          …….                                                                        Peace

Iraq Iran                    Iran Iraq                  …….                                                                         …….

Sudan Vietnam        Vietnam Sudan       …….                                                                         …….

…….                               …….         A prayer that issues from the dry lips of a refugee       …….

…….                                …….                         …….                                                                       Peace

Rifle Mine                     Mine Rifle              …….                                                                       …….

Grenade Bullet             Bullet Grenade      …….                                                                       …….

…….                                  …….                        As soft as the wind                                             …….

…….                                  …….                        from a Butterfly’s wing                                      …….

…….                                   …….                        …….                                                                        Peace

Victory Defeat                 Defeat Victory     …….                                                                         …….

Invade Retreat                Retreat Invade     …….                                                                        …….

…….                                   …….   The student who stands before the tank shakes in fear,   …….

…….                                    …….                    but whispers the vital word                                   …….

…….                                     …….                       …….                                                                        Peace

…….                                     …….                       It has a music of its own                                     …….

…….                                     …….                       A power of its own                                               …….

…….                                     …….                       Say it with us now!                                               …….

Peace                                  Peace                     Peace  (with audience)                                       Peace

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s