It’s been really hot at times this year – pushing into the 30s at times back in the summer. It’s been really cold at times this year – pushing into the minuses at times in the mornings. And yet, they are there, rain or shine, supporting the workers who are having to strike in order to either get proper working conditions or a living wage that they more than deserve. The heroes of Poetry on the Picket Line (PotPL) are the likes of Chip Hamer (Grim Chip), Nadia Drews, Mark Coverdale, and Tim Wells. And their support doesn’t stretch to reading poems, they have raised vital funds for the striking workers. Proper activist poetry, making a real difference to peoples’ lives when they most need it. So after little discussion with myself of the leading contenders, Poets on the Picket Line are Proletarian Poetry’s Working Class Heroes of 2018 (and 2017 & 2016 as well).
To further support their work, Grim Chip, and Mike Quille of Culture Matters, have brought the PotPL together between the sheets of a book, in the form of a poetry anthology, featuring the aforementioned people, plus the likes of Matt Abbott, Janine Booth, and David & Lizzy Turner (of Lunar Poetry Podcasts & a poem a week). So just in time for St Capitalism Day on the 25th of this month, and to help the workers in their continued struggle, go online and buy the anthology – you’ll be a hero yourself if you do. as all the profits go to the striking workers.
Here is the introduction to the book written by Porky the Poet, the ubiquitously funny, Phill Jupitus:
“I have always thought there’s an unrecognised grace and beauty in a picket line. Also, they are a huge embarrassment to the organisations being picketed. The fact that, for centuries, news organisations have portrayed the objectives of those who stand on them as avaricious, unreasonable or somehow evil is a testament to the strength of the image. A picket line is the simplest most direct manifestation of the will of people to be treated with some measure of fairness. Ordinary workers, forced to stand outside a place of work, because they simply won’t take shit any more.
The Poetry on the Picket Line crew have been pitching up at many and various sites of industrial action, and showing their support with impromptu alfresco performances, for a few years now and the scope of their activities has grown over that time. This collection encompasses the passion, empathy, wit and commitment of their work.
It is not merely the job of art to hold a mirror up to society from a distance, the best of it needs to engage with hearts and minds on the ground. Poetry on the Picket Line is a perfect manifestation of this. It’s odd to say that I wish there was no need for them. But the fact is that over the coming years they’re going to be getting busier if anything.
So thank you for buying the book and supporting them and their work – and by extension, everybody out on the line.
Don’t cross them!”