CULTURAL WORKINGS

Welcome to THE CULTURAL WORKER, a blog dedicated to arts of the people ranging from the radical avant garde and free jazz to dissident folk forms and popular arts . The Cultural Worker celebrates revolutionary creativity and features a variety of essays, reviews, fiction, reportage, poetry and musings through the internet pen of this writer, musician and cultural organizer. Scroll straight down and you'll also find an extensive historical Photo Exhibit of cultural workers in action, followed by a series of Radical Arts Links. The features herein will be unabashedly partisan---make no mistake about that. The concept of the cultural worker as a force of fearless creativity, of social change, indeed as an artistic arm of radicalism, has always been left-wing when applied with any degree of honesty at all. No revolutionary act can be truly complete in the absence of art, no progressive campaign can retain its message sans the daring drumbeat of invention, no act of dissent can stand so strong as that which counts the writers, musicians, painters, dancers, actors, photographers, film and performance artists within its ranks. Here's to the history and legacy of cultural work in the throes of the good fight...
john pietaro

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Poetry: "New Birth, When We Have Won"



NEW BIRTH, WHEN WE HAVE WON
(after Lewis Allen’s ‘Beloved Comrade’)
For Fidel and the Fallen Among Us


The fight
The fight has
The fight has just begun
Just begun
Just begun
The fight for change, for justice,
The fight against fascism has just begun---

Anew.

To you, to you, to you beloved comrades who sang the people’s song, fought and fell in the people’s war

The people’s war. Jarama is here.
Jarama is now. Jarama was always.    
The List. The 10. Phone-taps and
Black-bag jobs, and spying eyes,
The Blacklist, revived.
Unions reviled.

Jarama is now.

Where you stood, we now stand,
Underground, rise-up planned.
Where you bled the pains of all,
Where you’re remembered, we recall.
The fight goes on.

Fidel said: a revolution is a struggle to the death----between the future and the past.
Our present tense, our present, our present-now
The past goes on….

Code Noir, minstrel show
Sambo, old Jim Crow,
All come out for the lynching show!
The fight, still. The fight. Still.

Ghetto slum-lords and imports of the CIA.
Timeless today.
Broken mirrors splinter, tearing
Humiliation and
Segregation, the
Evisceration and deportation.

The Dreamers awoken, the Dreamers awoken! But it’s the same dream, the same Dream.
Night raids and night
Terrors and
Nightscapes for those who look different and
Pray different and
Speak different. From us.
Them.

The cold of side-glances of glancing blows,
Powdered frost over those forgotten, those apart, those
Forgotten. The old. The ill.

The OTHER.

The fight was then, the fight
Renewed. The fight
Renewed.

Would-be Brownshirts’ detention camps
Official, devised. Surmised. White pride. White national. White supremacy. White Hate.

The Alpha. The Decider. The Breadwinner. Mr. Mister. The Man.
Male supremacy. Male
Domination. The little woman, the bitch, ball-and-chain, the fairer sex, T and A.
Madonna/whore/Madonna/whore…

They’ll let you do anything when you’re a celebrity.

RESERVATIONS: Lock-up for our Nations
Native lands’ desecration.
Winter water cannons snarl and bite, claiming the land and
Tradition.
Detention.

Camps for the Japanese citizen,
J. Edgar HUAC in secret drag
Deporting Reds, the scare is back.

CO-INTEL, Liberte ,
Hollywood 10, Chicago 7, Central Park 5
Free Bobby Seale and Angela Davis.
Still, the Prison Industrial Complex            
Marches on. Marches on.

The fight will still go on.

Drug sweep and profile,
Muslim ban, No Irish Need Apply.
Joe Hill, Kevin Barry, Tom Mooney,
Scottsboro, Sacco, Vanzetti.
The Wobs, the Party.

Emma Goldman. And Paul Robeson.
Trumbo. The Rosenbergs. Herndon. Peltier. Mumia, Amiri. Panthers, Lords, Weathermen. NOW, Guerilla Girls and Rad Womyn and Teamsters and Turtles Stopping the gears.

Silencing the silencing.

Now, here comes the Highway Patrol
Beating farmers up from the Dustbowl.
Pinkerton thugs kill workers with
Fire and gun and stone.
When we all were hungry. And freezing and
Alone. 
But we still blame the poor for their lack of Home.

Money-changers, then and now, stealing Lives, owning families, breaking pride
And Elections.

Reagan Youth bottle-fed on Wall Street,
Noshing on livelihoods
Now stand in tall buildings with gold letters and
Shiny silver buttons,
Feeding on promise.

Today’s refugee from war and poverty fights
For hope,
She needs to believe. Needs to believe.
But the Swastika, back in style,
Hate crimes all the rage.
Confederate flag bewitches, beguiles,
The cold grows colder by the day.

Divide, disrupt,
Repeal, corrupt.
And the fight must still go on.
The fight must still go on.

New birth, new birth
When we have won, when we have won. 

When we have won...

Broken mirror splinters 10,000 shards of 
Constitution and Declaration over
Un-American perseveration.

…Goddamn the corporation.

  --John Pietaro, Brooklyn NY December 9, 2016


The Red Microphone performing "New Birth, When We Have Won", Better World Awards 2016


Friday, December 16, 2016

RECORDING DEBUT OF REVOLUTIONARY POET AMINA BARAKA

People's World

THE RECORDING DEBUT OF REVOLUTIONARY POET 
AMINA BARAKA


Newark NJ: On December 15 the woefully under-recognized activist-poet Amina Baraka signed a recording contract with the legendary free jazz label ESP-Disk in preparation for her debut CD, "If I Can't Dance, It's Not My Revolution".

Ms. Baraka, one-time People's World columnist, performer at the recent Better World Awards luncheon and the widow of Amiri Baraka, spent the day in rehearsal with members of the Red Microphone, the quartet that will serve as her accompanying band on the record.

The CD is to be recorded in a Brooklyn studio on January 29 and ESP-Disk, the record label that debuted such stellar artists as Albert Ayler, will be releasing it both on CD and digital formats early in 2017. Poetry selections will constitute a powerful issues-oriented sampling of Ms. Baraka's works from the early 1960s through the present. The pieces will range from those inspired by the author's childhood in the pre-Civil Rights American South to a brand new piece written in the wake of Donald Trump's election which she fittingly entitled The Fascist.

Ms. Baraka's part in the movements for social justice, Black liberation, human rights, economic justice and peace have been well documented for decades. She performed extensively with her celebrated husband over many years, as well as a jazz and blues vocalist and dancer, and as a sometime member of the Bread is Rising Poetry Collective. Previously, her only recorded work was in joint efforts with Mr. Baraka, so this 2017 debut work is deemed quite historic. "I'm very excited to finally have a vehicle to present my poetry. This also includes whole aspects of my own story. But now, in these times when racism and hate are again bold and violent and under a thinly-veiled guise of so-called 'patriotism', cultural workers NEED to speak out. We are standing up". 

The Red Microphone, a self-described ensemble of liberation jazz, is led by writer and percussionist John Pietaro who has also authored many articles for The People's World and Political Affairs. He is the curator of the monthly New Masses Nights performance series at Henry Winston Unity Hall. The band performed at several Better World Award functions and also accompanied Ms. Baraka at the 2016 Dissident Arts Festival which occurred this past summer here in New York City. The other members of the quartet are saxophonist/flutist Ras Moshe Burnett (a noted underground musician and activist), saxophonist/composer/pianist Rocco John Iacovone and the electric bassist Laurie Towers. 


The photo shows Ms. Baraka and Mr. Pietaro, for the Red Microphone, signing the ESP-Disk contract.