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London Undercurrents – two poems by Hilaire and Joolz Sparkes

I am so happy that this coming Thursday 28th March, Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire will launching their book London Undercurrents. Published by Holland Park Press, the launch is at Gradidge Room of the Artworkers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square London WC1N 3AT Further detail can be found here: https://www.hollandparkpress.co.uk/books/london-undercurrents/

Proletarian Poetry

It is said of Truman Capote that his book, In Cold Blood was the first non-fiction novel. Based on in-depth research, the book tells of a family murdered by two young men in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. It was part of what became known as the New Journalism by the likes of Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer and Joan Didion, who used literary devices to tell factual stories. Today, this type of writing has become known as creative non-fiction. Their approach was a form of social archaeology, where the writer is led by the subject, often taking them into strange situations (read Hunter S Thompson for more of that).

Poetry being the most (ahem) truthful of writing forms, I think could be described as creative non-fiction. It often tells true stories either of the poet or others’ lives, and relevant to PP giving voice to to people who are rarely heard or depicted…

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Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2019

For the past year or so, I have been helping out with editing collections at Culture Matters; and I’m very proud to say that one of these is by the great US poet, Fred Voss, which will be out soon (with an introduction from myself). Below are details of Culture Matters’ Bread and Roses Poetry Award. Get yourself entered, it’s free!

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b233d972ada3f6b911297ef40b012c8a_XLCulture Matters is pleased to announce that the third Bread and Roses Poetry Award, sponsored by Unite, is now open for entries.

Our mission is to promote a socialist approach to all cultural activities, including arts such as poetry. So we run the Bread and Roses Poetry Award to create new opportunities for working people to write poetry, and to encourage poets to focus on themes which are meaningful to working-class communities.

As in previous years, there will be 5 prizes of £100 for the best poems, and an anthology of the poems of around a further 20 entrants will be published later in the year. In addition, we are offering a mentoring and support package for writers who have not yet published a collection. Up to 3 of these entrants – who may or may not have won one of the 5 prizes – will be linked to an experienced, published poet, and they will be helped to produce their first published collection. (more…)

If We Were Real Quiz – the answers

time for answersSo, here are the answers (poem below). Hope you did well.

ANSWERS

  1. TASTE OF HONEY
  2. LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER
  3. SATURDAY NIGHT SUNDAY MORNING
  4. A KIND OF LOVING
  5. FOOTBALL FACTORY
  6. NIL BY MOUTH
  7. THIS IS ENGLAND
  8. CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER
  9. RITA, SUE & BOB TOO
  10. EDUCATING RITA
  11. SHIRLEY VALENTINE
  12. BILLY ELLIOTT
  13. TRAINSPOTTING
  14. TOP BOY
  15. SHAMELESS
  16. LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS

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If We Were Real – The Quiz

i daniel blake.jpegYesterday I hosted an event at the wonderful Swindon Poetry Festival. As part of the evening I read the following poem ‘If We Were Real’, which was published in the Rialto; I then used it as the basis for a quiz. The following sixteen points, reference a film/book/play/TV programme, which portray the working class from the 1960s to the 2010s. It seemed to go down well, and the winner got ten out of sixteen, which under time constraints and not able access the Internet, was very good (the cheats know who they are). So, if you are that way inclined, why not have a go. No prize, just the personal satisfaction that comes from any pointless test of our memory. Only clue I will give is that they are all British and I Daniel Blake isn’t one of them. Please don’t post your answers in the comments section, as they will give it away for others. I’ll post the answers at the weekend and you can tell me what score you got in the comments then. Best of luck! (more…)

‘Persona Non Grata’ anthology edited by Isabelle Kenyon, with poem ‘The Refugees’ by Jennie E. Owen

HandsThe other week, I was helping out Culture Matters at the Poetry Book Fair, hosting a reading with the wonderful Fran Lock and Nadia Drews, both of whom have upcoming collections with the press. Mike Quille and I shared the space with Andy Croft of Smokestack Books, and Isabelle Kenyon of the relatively new press, ‘Fly on the Wall Poetry’. Isabelle has been a tour-de-force on the poetry scene recently, first of all editing the mental health anthology, ‘Please Hear What I am Not Saying’, in support of the charity MIND. It was awarded ‘Runner Up for Best Anthology’ at the prestigious Saboteur Awards this May and to date, it has raised £500. (more…)

Gala Day, Durham Miners by Jane Burn

For Gala Day, July 14th 2018

Proletarian Poetry

In 1984 I was twenty-two and having a nervous breakdown. I had taken an English A Level (which I failed) and I remember the question of whether Hamlet was mad or not really fucking me up. Turns out the madness rubbed off 5921322055_790552265b_mon me for a time. Hospitalised with short-term psychosis (thankfully) the faces in newspapers would be staring at me; there were men in the corner watching me; the doctors seemed extra-terrestrial. One day, when supposedly in recovery, I sat in the TV room trying to catch some kind of normality but happened upon the news and the heightened social realism of men standing in a dusty field being charged at by the riot police. I started hyper-ventilating, feeling like I was going to pass out, then the belief that something worse was about to happen. The fighting continued but no-one would turn the TV off. Finally, a nurse…

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Moonstomp by Tim Wells

003Tim Wells has been (still is, in fact) one of the great stalwarts of poetry; as a poet, promoter, and historian of all things working class, for the past four decades. One of the original ‘ranters’ of the 1980s, he has been a regular on the London poetry scene, as well as wider shores, giving it large with poems about working class lives; poems that don’t pander to the type of melodrama or demonisation which undermines the notion of class as being some drop out numpty who drives a van with its break lights not working. “I was a teenage suedehead. Dressing sharper than the posh kids and our style was crucial to us. That, and I don’t drive,” he told me. (more…)