A modest proposal about our planet

Life here on Earth is fragile. Very fragile, actually. Earth is very small. It’s the third planet in our solar system, the fourth smallest planet of the nine planets. Its 12,756 km in diameter, which is really tiny when you compare it to Jupiter the largest planet, which is just shy of 142,984 km in diameter, and a mere mote in the eye of our comparatively small sun which is 1.4 million km in diameter. Earth, revolving round the sun at 107,000 km/hr, is so small you could fit a million Earths inside the sun. Our Sun is but one star of 400 billion stars in our galaxy. Our Galaxy is about one of about 100 billion galaxies that are known of. So we are tiny. So we come to one of the great pollutants and destroyers of species.

Jupiter compared to Earth in size

In a Time Magazine article dealing with livestock production Brian Walsh, drawing material from a paper brought out by the Academy of Sciences of the USA says the following:
“40% of global agricultural gross domestic product, provides income for more than 1.3 billion people and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water. There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.”
Combine Animal Feeding operations produce enormous amount of methane, and aside from the horrific cruel and unconscionable conditions which the animals are subjected to, the stress of confinement, the sicknesses, the feeding with antibiotics, the soya beans and GMO corn they are fed, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of all greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 % of methane emissions and 65 % of NO2 emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2. Don’t forget that much of this livestock production is heavily subsidized by governments, so that the real costs of production are not passed onto the consumer.
As livestock farming is such a huge source of income for billions of people (global value in 2013 $883 billion ), as the production of meat and poultry and fish for supermarkets great and small all over the planet is such a lucrative undertaking, as so much research is produced each year about economizing and increasing productivity and efficiency in the livestock industry, as so many with the exception of the vegetarian and animal rights community point out the cruelty inherent in the beef and livestock industry, there is a strong and unfounded impetus to keep underlining the health benefits of eating meat, and to divorce the eating of meat from the enormous suffering and horrific cruelty endured by billions of animals world-wide every day, and every moment of every day. All animals have consciousness, language and a type of culture, by this I mean a socially approved and communally understood sense of expression. One other thing worth considering is this.

What kind of body do humans have? Are we built for eating animals? Are we omnivores? Well, not really. Dr. Williams C. Roberts from the USA National Institutes of Health and Baylor University — who is the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and one of the most prominent cardiologists in the world with over 1,500 publications in peer reviewed medical journals — summarized our answer very nicely. He wrote:

“Although most of us (humans) conduct our lives as omnivores, in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores. The appendages of carnivores are claws; those of herbivores are hands or hooves. The teeth of carnivores are sharp; those of herbivores are mainly flat (for grinding). The intestinal tract of carnivores is short (3 times body length); that of herbivores, long (12 times body length). Body cooling of carnivores is done by panting; herbivores, by sweating. Carnivores drink fluids by lapping; herbivores, by sipping. Carnivores produce their own vitamin C, whereas herbivores obtain it from their diet. Thus, humans have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores.”[1]

So it seems that not only is the human race investing vast resources in livestock farming, and though we have spent thousands of years eating meat, our bodies aren’t even designed to eat meat in the first place. It’s also interesting to note that our bodies synthesize all the cholesterol we need, but that when we take in animal products, we begin to build up cholesterol, and run intro real dangers of developing atherosclerosis, and heart disease. Food for thought, eh?

[1] WC Roberts. Twenty Questions on Atherosclerosis. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2000 Apr.; 13(2): 139–143.

Troubador Poetry Prize – 1 week to go


With just one week to closing date, I’m sending details of our annual Troubadour Poetry Prize to poets/teachers/workshop leaders & members/publishers/magazine editors etc, and hope you might forward – full details below – to anyone you know who might be interested in entering.

Every submission helps support our fortnightly reading series at The Troubadour in London which has now been running for 18 years (& which receives no public funding). We rely increasingly on our annual prize & we offer a terrific 1st prize of £5000 (plus another £2000 plus in smaller prizes).

There’ll be a great celebratory event at the Troubadour on 30th November with all winners invited to read their winning poems, alongside readings from this year’s judges, Jean Sprackland & John McAuliffe.

We’d be really grateful for any help in spreading the word…

Many thanks!

Best wishes, Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie Fyfe (Organiser)
coffee-house poetry at the troubadour

www.coffeehousepoetry.org, www.annemariefyfe.com

… life, literature and the pursuit of happiness… in the famous Troubadour cellar-club:
London’s liveliest & best-loved poetry landmark since the ‘fifties…

£5,000 Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2015

Sponsored by Cegin Productions

judged by jean sprackland & john mcauliffe with both judges reading all poems

prizes: 1st £5,000, 2nd £1,000, 3rd £500
plus 20 prizes of £25 each
plus a spring 2016 coffee-house-poetry season-ticket
plus a prize-winners’ coffee-house poetry reading
with jean sprackland & john mcauliffe
on mon 30th nov 2015
for all prize-winning poets

submissions, via e-mail or post, by mon 19th oct 2015


John McAuliffe (b. Listowel, Co. Kerry, 1973) has published four books with The Gallery Press: A Better Life (2002), Next Door (2007), Of All Places (PBS Recommendation, 2011) and The Way In (2015). He lives in Manchester where he teaches at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and writes a monthly poetry column for the Irish Times.

Jean Sprackland (b. 1962) is author of four collections of poetry, Tattoos for Mothers Day (Spike, 1997), Hard Water (Cape, 2003), Tilt (Cape, 2007) & Sleeping Keys (Random House, 2013), & Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach (Cape, 2012), a book of essays about landscape and nature. Originally from Burton upon Trent, she studied English & Philosophy at the University of Kent & is a Trustee of the Poetry Archive.

both judges will read all poems submitted


General: Entry implies acceptance of all rules; failure to comply with all rules results in disqualification; submissions accepted from individuals of any nationality, from any country, aged over 18 years; no poet may win more than one prize; judges’ decision is final; no correspondence will be entered into.

Poems: Poems must be in English, must each be no longer than 45 lines, must fit on one side of one A4 or US-Letter-size page, must show title & poem only, must not show poet’s name or any other identifying marks on submitted poems (whether submitted by post or as e-mail attachment), must be the original work of the entrant (no translations) & must not have been previously broadcast or published (in print or online); prize-winning poems may be published (in print or online) by Troubadour International Poetry Prize, & may not be published elsewhere for one year after Monday 19th Oct 2015 without permission; no limit on number of poems submitted; no limit on number of separate submissions any individual may make; poems may be submitted by post or e-mail (see submission details below) but poems already submitted by e-mail should not then also be submitted by post; no text alterations accepted after submission.

Fees: All entries must be accompanied by submission fees of £5/€6/$8 per poem (Sterling/Euro/US-Dollars only); entries only included when payment received via EITHER

  • PayPal: see PayPal (see ‘prizes‘ page on www.coffeehousepoetry.org, PayPal account not required, no additional details required, please note your PayPal Receipt No.) OR
  • Cheque/Money-Order: payable to Coffee-House Poetry
  • NB: include PayPal name or cheque signatory name in e-mail or postal submission details, only if different from Poet’s Name.

By Post: No entry form required; two copies required of each poem submitted; please include the following details on a separate page – Poet’s Name & Address, Phone No, E-Mail Address (if available), List of Titles, No. of Poems, Total Fees, & EITHER PayPal Receipt No. OR cheque/money-order/postal-payment enclosed; no paper-clips or staples, no Special Delivery, Recorded Delivery or Registered Post; entries are not returned.

By E-mail: No entry form required; poems must be e-mailed to CoffPoetry@aol.com as attachments (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .rtf only); please include the following details in your e-mail message – Poet’s Name & Address, Phone No, List of Titles, No. of Poems, Total Fees, & EITHER PayPal Receipt No. OR send cheque/money-order/postal-payment by post, no paper-clips or staples, no Special Delivery, Recorded Delivery or Registered Post. (Do not submit via website contact page; do not submit by e-mail to info@coffeehousepoetry.org; submit by e-mail to CoffPoetry@aol.com ONLY.)

Deadline: All postal entries, and any cheque/money-order/postal-payments for e-mail entries, to arrive at Troubadour International Poetry Prize, Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP postmarked on or before Mon 19th Oct 2015. Prize-winners only will be contacted individually by Mon 23rd Nov 2015. Prize-giving will take place on Mon 30th Nov 2015 at Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour in Earls Court, London.

Acknowledgement/Results: E-mail entries acknowledged within 14 days of receipt of both entry & payment; postal entrants may include stamped, addressed postcard or envelope marked Acknowledgement &/or stamped, addressed envelope marked Results; results will be posted on website (& mailed to all postal entrants who included a Results envelope) after announcement on Mon 30th Nov 2015; no correspondence will be entered into.

Anne-Marie Fyfe (Organiser), coffee-house poetry at the troubadour
life, literature and the pursuit of happiness, in the famous Troubadour cellar-club: London’s liveliest & best-loved poetry venue…
readings, mondays 8-10 pm, tickets £7, season tickets 20% off, classes, sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28, at 263-267 Old Brompton Rd LONDON SW5, (no mail to this address, see correspondence PO Box address below), nr. junct. Earls Court & Old Brompton Rds, nearest Tube: Earls Court (District & Piccadilly Lines), to advance-book readings, season tickets or classes (classes are advance-booking only), pay via PayPal on website or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry to PO Box below, for info, season ticket & mailing list enquiriese:coffpoetry@aol.com, www.coffeehousepoetry.org or write to Anne-Marie Fyfe, Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa comes out as Gay – in Rome and On the eve of the Catholic’s Church’s Synod on the Family

I was thrilled when I read of Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, who is causing worldwide controversy after he came out in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. Charasma, 43, told the paper that he was gay and had a partner during an interview published on Saturday. It might seem a tad odd that this would please me, but  reading about it, and its universal impact, and the fact the news was in all the papers and all over the internet, but the news of Krzysztof Charamsa declarations brought me right back to my own time in the Catholic Church. I was a Capuchin Franciscan friar between the years of 1983 to 1989. I was a postulant in their Friary on Dublin st. Carlow (1 year), a Novice (1 year) in Kilkenny, and four years in Church Street in Dublin. The monastery in Church street is now luxury apartments and has transformed into something both reminiscent of the past (my room was directly over the main door) and yet something entirely different to its glory days. After about eight months in another Friary, I exited the Order already developing the atheism that has remained with me ever since. It was a real moment of liberation. There are few things that will more successfully, completely and absolutely reduce a persons belief system to nought than an extended period absorbing Catholic Theology and studying the Bible. After six years and a long period of soul searching I had reached the conclusion that I was wrong about the church, that I didn’t believe, that it was an illusion, and it made no sense whatever. Thank heavens for James Joyce and Arthur Schopenhauer! (But thats another story for another day.)

During my time ‘inside’, I also encountered a number of gay men, both within the Order itself and in the various colleges I attended during my years of studies. Some were friends, and at times good friends of mine. Some were not at all. It was rather extraordinary to be, sometimes at the oddest and most inappropriate of times, propositioned by them. I thought it was flattering, but as I was not gay I felt no inclination to take matters any further. I also took my vow of celibacy seriously, sometimes to my great frustration I must admit, as I fell in love a couple of times back then. All in all it was a world in denial of the reality of homosexuality in the church and the order. It was a world where gay men were deeply secretive about their sexual identity, which is not too healthy, and no doubt caused them tremendous pain over time. This was because they were living inside an institution that demanded they remain celibate while disapproving and condemning their very inner natures by their teaching. It seemed outrageous then, and it remains so now, that any group or institution should demand such a deep curtailment of a fundamental right like free self expression. It angered me so much that it led me to very deliberately choose a gay man as the lead Character in my first novel which was set in a fictitious Order in the Church. I was just so angry at all the denial and the homophobia back then. I invited as many of my old friends from the order to the book launch. It had been so long since I seen them. Sadly, none came. It had been fifteen years since I left the order by then. They had read the novel by then (Well, I hope so, as I had given some of them copies). Perhaps something of its subject matter upset them, I don’t know. But it was strange I lost such complete contact with them after that book came out.

So, in conclusion, lets hope the good Monsignor’s extraordinary bravery causes the revolution needed in the Catholic Church. My gut feeling? He will be silenced as all innovation is silenced in that oppressive institution, and he will leave the priesthood, and marry his partner. All in all he did the right thing: Krzysztof gave up hiding for love and for truth and for freedom. An awesome, life-giving, life-affirming thing to do.