We live on the only Paradise humans will ever know. It reduces down to one strike and you’re out. Life here is as far as we know the only life there is. We haven’t even begun to understand it. We have barely begun to understand, we don’t understand it, yet we are at ad hock war with every other life form, organic or inorganic, the very mix that sustains us, driven by greed and ignorance. I suggest we turn our gaze to those who rule and subdue us. They are the enemy at the gates.

The Conservatives in the 80s were not just privatisers, they didn’t just open the gates of hell when they deregulated the City – attracting all the money into it that might otherwise have gone into British manufacturing – the Conservatives were actually supporters of the Apartheid regime and they believed that all socialists and communists were “ the enemy within”.

Young Tories in those days, (Cameron and Johnson were too young to be among them) made T-Shirts about Nelson Mandela stamped with the sentence: “Hang the terrorist.” This was the age when Britain didn’t just coattail on US wars in the hope of getting thrown a few scraps and scrag ends – resources and a little strategic advantage; it was a time when when the Conservatives actually turned Britain into ground zero for a potential WWIII.

Since, incredibly, losing Hartlepool to the Tories, Starmer has been engaged in a balletic act of shadow-boxing against a leadership challenger who doesn’t exist. A recent poll found that Labour voters overwhelmingly want Starmer to go before the next election, but most have no idea who will replace him. In other words, they’re so keen to be rid of him hat they don’t care that there’s no obvious successor.

Noam Chomsky, a deeply rational and lucid man, made certain assumptions based on tried and tested principles from the philosophy of science. Lakoff and others called this an objectification of something that was actually deeply subjective and experiential; namely the interplay between experience and language.

This was some time ago. Their positions haven’t changed much for 30 years.

How would the grandees of the Civil Service, the heads of industry, the aristocracy, the media, Global big business, the military, MI5, the CIA, shadowy organisations such as the Ditchley Group, the dark money brokers, the Trilateral Commission, the City, the Chipping Norton Set, the hedge funds, the oligarchs, and all the other unelected holders of power react to a socialist UK? They have an absolute belief in their entitlement, something akin to the divine right of kings – democracy be buggered.

This month, Moniza Alvi brings us such a shattering reality and leaves us asking to redefine the use of the word animal.

A key to notice is her craft very precise and incisive with each word weighing in with its presence. Just look at the poem Candle. With candle, caves, stalagmites and stalactites, does it need to say more?

French cuisine ain’t as good as it used to be. The rot set in well before Chirac made his famous remarks, and seems to be accelerating. As someone who has visited and stayed in France frequently over the decades, I chart this decline with great sadness. French cuisine has always been celebrated for its excellence and variety, and has been inextricably a big part of my seventy year bout of Francophilia.

But communities helping themselves, breaking free from corporate tyranny, building sustainable, more localised economies, getting representatives who actually represent them rather than vested interests – now that should be one hell of a draw.

A coalition of the left might achieve that. But if Labour is ever to be reborn, it will have to shed the centrist dead wood and learn to live with like-minded progressive groups. Ditch first past the post. Cooperate.

No one wants to be lead by donkeys, or dangerous buffoons like Boris Johnson. But who imagines that the Naxalites (or the Sikh farmers) can govern in India? Who thinks the Zapatistas should rule in Chiapas, or Sendero Luminoso in Peru? Who agrees that certain key Brexit voting communities in the north should be the ones to decide the future of the UK.

I utterly need Green around me! I am experiencing a kind of lack of it at the moment, as I moved to the seaside. The sea is wonderful, but I am hankering after Forest… I’ve never been really drawn to deserts, although my eldest son really wants to experience a desert, but he wants to go to the Atacama.

Sinéad Morrissey, is one of our most revered poets. There is a valid reason behind it. Even as I write this, she has been shortlisted for the 2021 Pigott Poetry Prize. You can see in her biog the list of many awards her work enjoys. Having taken a journey through various cultures, I suppose it comes naturally to her not only to capture a sweeping range of images, sculptures, monuments, and paintings, but to be touched by political, cultural and geographical aspects as well. -Yogesh Patel

Dan Pearce has done editorial work for many magazines and newspapers including New Society, Honey, 19, Oz, The Observer, The Times and Sunday Times, Mayfair and Penthouse. Dan has created book and record covers, political cartoons, comic strips and caricatures and he has written two graphic novels: ‘Critical Mess’ (against the nuclear industry) and ‘Oscar: The Second Coming’. His labour of love is the graphic novel, ‘Depression’ which is unfinished.

My father was excited by the possibility of going to Indonesia, but to his chagrin, his battalion was the one kept behind in the Netherlands. He tried to join the troops who were sailing off to ‘Nederlands Indie” as it was called, but needed the approval of his father. He wasn’t 21. His father, my grandfather wouldn’t give in. I am very grateful that he wasn’t allowed to fight for Dutch colonialism.

Leon Kreel has exhibited in salons around the world. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. His photographic trips have taken him to Yellowstone national park, Iceland, Namibia and India. Leon uses photography to immerse himself in new and old environments and to capture the wonders that he discovers – and continues to discover.

But let’s put it simply. Without the rule of law the UK would be hell. It would be the world of the Wire. It would be downtown Sao Paulo. It would be Burma, Russia or China. It would be Bangladesh. It would be South Africa, Mexico, almost every other country apart from a select few. If there is one thing that marks out the UK from all other countries it is the rule of law. The rule of law is the price we pay for peace.

Shortlisted for the 2019 Irish Times Poetry Now Award, the Pigott Poetry Prize and the Roehampton Poetry Prize, Now We Can Talk Openly About Men is Martina Evan’s latest collection of poems. Almost a hundred years later, in an exceptional flip side of the fight recounted, the poet makes us relive the period of the men stifled by the Irish Conflict around 1919. I am thrilled that through her other poems selected here we can celebrate Martina Evans as our Poet of Honour. -Yogesh Patel

The Chinese student (was his name Bo?) told the professor what the problem was. Greenbaum looked down. He studied the page. Then he looked up and said to to the Chinese student.

‘Thank you very much. You are right. I will send a note to the publisher to make the change in the next edition.’

And there we have it. One of the greatest authorities working in English Grammer, with the book that won him the OM, conceding to a non-native speaker that he had made a mistake and thanking him for pointing it out.

Ever since I stumbled on Sonnet Mondal’s poems, I have been captivated by their stunning simplicity and words evoking a magical experience. That he achieves this consistently is breath-taking.

In this occasional series, our aim is to connect you with some of these exceptional beauties I come across. These are rare, as they don’t need any awards.

YP

Guyanese with Indian ancestry, and ever since winning Sandbach Parker Gold Medal in his twenties, in 1964, Cyril has won critical acclaims and awards, including becoming the Poet Laureate of Ottawa, between 1984 and 1987. Few poets succeed as novelists as well. Recognised with the country’s most coveted awards, the Guyana Prize for Fiction, Cyril has proven he is also a great novelist.

One of the most esteemed literary critics, but a poet at heart, Vidyan has reached one of the most coveted seats in literature as an Associate Professor of English Literature at Harvard. This achievement is more remarkable because Harvard had been notoriously accused of consistently rating Asian-American applicants lower.

Poet of Honour is a series of Ars Notoria and Word Masala Foundation’s celebration of some of the best contemporary poets who have become iconic and a major inspiration. l am profoundly grateful that Imtiaz not only agreed to be a special guest for us to celebrate Christmas but also share as a special treat for you her trademark artistic expression in sketches.

Merry Christmas!