July to September

I pray for a more friendly, more caring, and more understanding human family on this planet. To all who dislike suffering, who cherish lasting happiness, this is my heartfelt appeal

Dalai Lama

Naomi Haigh/Palestinian – Israel Justice/ The Arms Fair/ Home Stage Folk/

Writing from early September and my heart is full of Naomi Haigh, my friend and with no wish to be possessive, that would make Naomi laugh, my cellist.

2 weeks ago, with the company of family near her, knowing they would find her, Naomi made what I can only imagine must have been a thoroughly considered decision to end her life.

She chose a tree and hung there with her scarf. Her family found her and she was taken to hospital

No words can describe how it felt to hear what had happened. With the encouragement and support from a friend who couldn’t make it, I journeyed for both of us to the hospital and sat with her for 20 minutes. I sang and held her hand and later that evening after I had left and her close family continued private time with her, Naomi’s life support was reduced and her body came to rest and was then prepared for organ donation, at Naomi’s own wishes.

Where is she now? I felt to contemplate, leaving the hospital that day, letting tears fill my eyes and a deep pain somewhere in my body slowly find a way through, that I had an invitation to keep the love alive! My answer is yes, I will learn to love you in this new way Naomi, as you are now.

Friends we shared are sharing stories, songs, pictures and prayers. We arrange gatherings in her memory as do her family (I had the honour of visiting pictures below at the beach). I’m listening also each night to 2 new song recordings featuring Naomi, from my next release; she features on ‘Listen To Women’ and ‘This Skin’.

Alive, she was and is so alive.

************

The Samaritans operate in the UK (and will take calls from anywhere) to offer support for those experiencing emotional distress. Set up in the 1950s to give people the opportunity to talk about suicide.

https://www.samaritans.org

My gratitude to BAT for inviting me to offer a song for their recent evening event ‘Looking Deeply Peace and Justice Palestine – Israel.’

The evening brought together 3 speakers Issa Souf (Palestine) Aviv Tatarsky (Israel) and Thanissara (UK) to look at what peace and justice means there. Each of them are involved in direct ways.

I chose to put the words of Arab poet Marhmoud Darwish to music. I here is the song, the stars taught me to read visit here to listen
***** https://youtu.be/IxahD-Ns37g?t=4635 *****

For me the treatment of people in occupied Palestinian territories is unacceptable and the suffering it causes is a sickness of our time that I wish would stop. I stand for a peace and understanding and ask the international community to open their eyes to the daily hurt that is being caused and act to save lives.

The last few months have also contained the Arms Fair a bi-annual exhibition of weapons and systems for sale at one of London’s biggest venues. For years protestors have made a presence at Excel hosting public protest to raise awareness around the event. London mayor Sadhiq Kahn alongside many known public figures including Vivienne Westwood and Rowan Williams, have spoken out against it and numbers of protesters seem to be growing.

My respect to these young people, good to sing for you.

Conversations on that day with police and reporters draw together more closely my beliefs that while we are in a system that doesn’t vision an end of conflict, instead investing in it; we can’t touch that within ourselves that knows the way to peace. Naive? I know some say so. Possible, I think so.

I see it in personal relationships around me all the time; reconciliation, holding of suffering, disagreement leading to understanding through nonviolent communication. Give me systems and ideas that bring me closer to people, closer to love, that wishes health and well being for others. Use instead the infrastructure, the time, space, resources and intelligence for such peace education, make it real and enlivening. Another future is possible.

thanks friend Alex for filming this, a singing along 🙂

Lastly this time I wanted to tell you about an interview I had the honour of giving with Home Stage.

Thank you Maddy Leedham and the Home Stage team good to have our time together that was aired this week. Four songs and half an hour of conversation about my upbringing, songwriting, song, spirituality, politics and spiders! Thanks Maddie for your kindness and presence, it was a pleasure. The show interviews someone new from the folk world every other Tuesday.

love Joe


Album ‘More The Love That’s Given’ available for listening on Spotify and Youtube/ physical copy: handprinted artwork and lyric sheet by mail order -pay what you can- please get in touch for that

Upcoming events

Mindfulness and music – sessions exploring mindfulness and musicianship with Susannne Olbrich, Martha Wright and Joe Holtaway -next one October 4th

Trust Your Artist – a week retreat exploring creativity at the Plum Village monastery (Thich Nhat Hanh) in Germany for all ages. The next Wake Up Your Artist for 18-35ish year olds is in Spring 2022.

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