Black Hands by Robert Minhinnick

From the Welsh environmental campaigner, essayist and poet Robert Minhinnick comes this searing example of what might be called photojournalistic poetry film, as the Vimeo description explains:

A poem by Robert Minhinnick illustrated with unique footage taken during his visit to Iraq. Visiting the notorious Amiriya bunker. Harrowing, moving and dark.

Peter Thorp edited, and the audio samples and loops were created by Peter Morgan. The film was produced (by Sonicsustain and Subjective Realities) in 2005, but refers to a horrific incident from the earlier Gulf War of 1991 — and a propaganda line about “smart bombs” that also debuted during that earlier invasion, and which went largely unchallenged by mainstream journalists in the US and UK. In fairness to them, it was difficult to gain accurate information because of the way the Pentagon severely restricted the movements of journalists on the ground, part of an ultimately successful attempt to mute public opposition to military aggression which would later find full expression during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it was formalized under the Orwellian label embedded journalism. Reporters who refused to cooperate with the Pentagon were targeted by US missiles and tank fire. Given how dangerous the whole region has now become for journalists, and how mendacious the official justifications for warfare have always been, our need for the prophetic witness of poets is greater than ever.


  1. Reply
    mikey delgado 13 September, 2016

    Alongside the ‘Like’ button there should be a ‘Stunned into silence’ button.

    • Reply
      Dave Bonta 13 September, 2016

      I think he was quoting or re-working his Forward Prize-winning poem “Twenty-five Laments for Iraq“:

      With the throat of a shark,
      The angel who came to the hundreds
      Sheltered in Amariya.


      Moths, I say.
      No. Look again, she suggests.
      Fused to the ceiling are the black hands
      Of the children of Amariya.

  2. Reply
    mikey delgado 14 September, 2016

    I remember the Twenty-five Laments for Iraq well, a tour-de-force, as is this piece. I was subscribed to Poetry Wales during the years he was the editor and his commentaries were unfailingly interesting. Shame no-one on the site that reproduced the poem got round to sorting out that typo in the first line though.

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