Norman Nawroki, long a stunningly creative voice from out of Montréal’s anarchist community, combines spoken word with guitar, drum, piano and some very haunting violin in this compilation to benefit the city’s Immigrant Workers centre and Solidarity Across Borders. There were other instruments I couldn’t even recognize. Nawrocki’s political poetry blends acute observation of the plight of migrant workers and refugees with musical and background voice arrangements. His range is impressive as he moves from the sarcastic to the empathetic with a variation so wide at times you wonder if you are listening to the same person. This is no crude “agit prop” but a polished, thoughtful and well produced piece of political art by a veteran artist.
Displaced/Misplaced has 18 tracks of various lengths and different tones. Many provide testimonial backup from refugees and migrant workers themselves as well as Montréal activists in the field such as Jaggi Singh and Eric Shragge. These testimonies, which include tactical suggestions (shut down airports to stop deportations is one of the more ambitious ones) provide immediacy to the issue which are questions of life and death. Some of these testimonials are simply vignettes that break up the longer tracks but add an important sense of actuality to Displaced/Misplaced.
My favourite tracks are the opening and resounding “All Refugees Are Welcome,” with its assault on words of hate and encouragement of words of resistance. Then “Evicted,” which dramatically evokes the process through which the bulldozers of authority drive people from their homes using a plethora of dubious expediencies that all amount to power and profit. Then there is the powerful “Once we were illegals,” which effectively challenges the carefully crafted amnesia by which one generation of migrants is turned against the next. Together these and the other tracts in Displaced/Misplaced provide a powerful and often starkly beautiful indictment of the campaign of calumny run by the racist Right and subtly and not so subtly encouraged by those in power.
You can get your own copy and support some pretty worthwhile organizations through normannawrocki.bandcamp.com/releases.
Richard Swift is a member of the CD Coordinating Committee. The second edition of his SOS: Alternatives to Capitalism, came out this year, published in Canada by Between the Lines.
This article appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Canadian Dimension (Canada 150).