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by Jim Sharp

Jim Sharp

10 years ago at 67 without any fear or anxiety I climbed/scrambled to the top of snowdonia, which was great.  But then learnt from that experience; owd men shudn’t climb mountains to caress their aging failing self-esteem.
As we neared the publication deadline, the gut-mind as well as the grey matter was more than a tad apprehensive.  Tho’ one of mike haywood’s lines seemed appropriate: “tis something seen & something done”. 
Thru poetry, I have tried to express my thoughts on me roots in rotherham, my journey to australia, my involvement in the meat industry & the workers’ struggle, the peace, disarmament, indigenous rights, and women’s movement, and the general struggle for socialism.  They also help me to express my feelings and experiences about life and people – friends, lovers, comrades, & family.
For about 6 years, my comrades have been helping me (driving me) to publish some of my poems.  This anthology is the result.
I want to thank my comrades in the gang of 4 + 1 – ross gwyther, rhodes hart, jen tsen kwok & adrian pollock –for helping select the poems for this anthology.  It’s been a long haul and involved many nights around the table – fish and chips for dinner- and many 5-way discussions on which poem, which version of a poem, and which words or punctuation should be used/selected for the book.
A special thanks goes to artist, author and friend sheryl gwyther for the two illustrations – a perfect match for my feelings. 
I also want to thank my long-distance and long-time mentor, humphrey mcqueen, who has been a friend and fellow collaborator in the journey of the working class to its rightful place as the leading class in society. 
My guiding star has always been marx, with large doses of mao.  The struggle for socialism has been, and will continue to be, a long one.  But I believe there is no alternative, and we will have to get there eventually if the planet is to survive, & all workers in all countries are to enjoy a life free from exploitation, misery and alienation.
With these poems, and the life experiences behind them, I hope I have done justice to the theory and practice that marx espoused. 
As mao said:

On this tiny globe
A few flies dash themselves against the wall,
Humming without cease,
Sometimes shrilling,
Sometimes moaning.
Ants on the locust tree assume a great-nation swagger
And mayflies lightly plot to topple the giant tree.
The west wind scatters leaves over Changan,
And the arrows are flying, twanging.
So many deeds cry out to be done,
And always urgently;
The world rolls on,
Time presses.
Ten thousand years are too long,
Seize the day, seize the hour!
The Four Seas are rising, clouds and waters raging,
The Five Continents are rocking, wind and thunder roaring.
Our force is irresistible,
Away with all pests!

January 9, 1963
Publication of this anthology would not have been possible without the financial support of a number of organisations that typify the strength and endurance of workers and anti-imperialists.
Just Peace was formed after 09/11, and continues to campaign and educate for peace among all nations and peoples.  As ever, they have been generous with their scarce resources and I would like to thank them for their encouragement and support.
The Rail Tram & Bus Union (Bus Division) is at the forefront of the struggle to not only protect and gain the rights and benefits due to all workers, but it is a leading union in the way it campaigns.  Praxis is not just a word – their generous contribution is a reflection of their putting into practice the means by which workers can come to experience and then go beyond their alienation.
Finally, I take great pride in acknowledging the support of my union, the Australasian Meat Industries Employees Union.  My union has been at the forefront of the workers’ struggle, and I am proud to say that I have played my part.  Many of my old union comrades are now gone, but their memory lives on. 
I hope my poems do just to their memory, and give some encouragement for others to continue the struggle for emancipation and empowerment.

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

jim sharp
01 march 2010