poetry and updates from matt martin
Professor Robert Hampson (Royal Holloway) and i have penned a guest post for the English and Drama blog of the British Library. the post gives an overview of the achievements and legacy of the poet Bill Griffiths (1948-2007) and is accompanied by images of Griffiths’ pamphlets from the British Library’s collections. this review of Griffiths’ accomplishments is occasioned by the approach of what would have been his 70th birthday on monday 20th august – an occasion that will be celebrated with an evening of readings at Birkbeck, University of London.
for monday 20th august, Professor Robert Hampson (Royal Holloway, University of London), Dr. Stephen Willey (Birkbeck, University of London) and i have co-organised an event to mark the 70th birthday of the late poet Bill Griffiths (1948-2007) – a poet, publisher, translator, archivist, anglo-saxonist, prisoners’ rights activist, biker, classical pianist and much more. Griffiths was born in middlesex and was primarily based in the london area before moving to seaham, county durham, in 1990. monday 20th august 2018 would have been his 70th birthday. the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at Birkbeck and the Poetics Research Centre at Royal Holloway are pleased to host this evening of readings to mark the occasion and celebrate Griffiths’ achievements. refreshments provided. the event will feature:
the event will begin at 6:30pm, with readings from 7pm. it will take place in the Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck University of London, 43 gordon square, london wc1h 0pd. free admission, all welcome with no need to book.
visual: ‘Collage #1: featureless unface’ by Mendoza, from ‘’SONNOT-COLLAGE triptych (in memory of Bill Griffiths)’. this work first appeared in the online journal Tentacular: https://www.tentacularmag.com/issue-1-pic/mendoza. the image is a collage assemblage of red card on black card, handwritten found text from Pitmatic: Talk of the North East Coal Field (compiled by Bill Griffiths, 2007), and found material/ photocopy of a Sun newspaper article dated 07 march 1983 in which the Sun attempts to dispel the myth that the [Conservative] Government have a “sinister plan to run down the coal industry”. one year later on 08 March 1984, union executives backed a nationwide strike, the longest such dispute in the 20th century. used with permission.
on thursday 5th july i will present my paper ‘More dialec dan we!’: Caribbean Perspectives on Medieval England as a Creole Society as part of the Society for Caribbean Studies 42nd Annual Conference. i’m on the 9am panel Writing History Differently, alongside Steve Cushion. the conference features a plethora of caribbeanists during three days of panels and presentations, running from 12:30pm on wednesday 4th july to 4pm on friday 6th july. it’s at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Charles Clore House, 17 russell square, bloomsbury, london wc1b 5dr. registration fees vary depending on days attended.
on thursday 14th june i’m reading at Sounds from the Hill, an evening of poetry, song and spoken word from performers based in the gipsy hill area of south london. also performing are Armorel Weston, T.A. Wright, Francesca La Nave, m, Brother G and The Trouble, Paul Terence Carney, Nick Aldridge and more. the event runs 7pm – 11pm at the Gipsy Hill Tavern, 79 gipsy hill, london se19 1qh (next door to gipsy hill station). free entry. this will form part of the Crystal Palace Festival, a celebration of creative arts from the wider area, which takes place from monday 11th to sunday 17th june.
on tuesday 29th may i’ll lead a reading group session on Aimé Césaire’s long poem Cahier d’un retour au pays natal / Notebook of a Return to My Native Land (1939, rev. 1947), hosted by the Avant-Garde Study Group at Birkbeck, University of London. this will run 7pm – 9pm and is free to attend. please get in touch at eocenepress[at]gmail[dot]com if you would like further information about the venue or the texts.
on friday 22nd june i will present my paper ‘Sogbo is the protector of flags’: International and Interracial Solidarity in the Poetry of Bill Griffiths as part of The Working-Class Avant-Garde, a one-day symposium at London Southbank University. i’m on the panel Populist Edges, which also features papers by Nick Lee and Mark P. Williams. elsewhere at the symposium there are presentations by Courtney Pina Miller, Robert James Sutton, Bernard Vere, Benjamin Kohlmann, Henderson Downing, Alexandra Bickley Trott, Chris Clarke, Ian Dudley, Karolina Kolenda, Louis Armand, Evi Heinz, Matti Ron, Katherine Jackson, Carina Brand, Stefan Szczelkun, Lizzie Philpott, David Wilkinson and Aaron Williamson. the event runs 9am – 6pm on the 8th floor of the Keyworth Centre, keyworth street, elephant and castle, london se1 6ng. registration is £20.50 (or free for students).
from the symposium’s online listing:
The avant-garde is often conceived to be the domain of the elite – those with the financial backing, education, and networks to succeed in this competitive arena. Indeed, studies such as John Carey’s divisive text, Intellectuals and the Masses, have understood the high intellectualism of the twentieth-century avant-garde to have developed in response to the improved education of the mass populace: a means to retain the divide between the masses and the elite. This symposium solicits papers about artists and writers who are outliers to this rule: the working-class figures who partook of the elite world of the avant-garde.
In recognising the fluidity of the term ‘working class’, and indeed its changing conditions through the twentieth century, we welcome studies of artists and writers who represent this designation relative to their own generation. Equally, as the definition of ‘avant-garde’ may well be contested, we propose an inclusive and flexible understanding of the term. Notable figures may include Henry Moore, DH Lawrence, Mark Gertler and David Bomberg in the early twentieth century, or later figures such as the ‘Two Roberts’, Merseybeat poets, and some YBAs. Studies of lesser-known figures of the avant-garde are welcomed, as are papers on the conditions of working class artists during the twentieth century.
Did their background influence their practice, or was it rejected in favour of a depoliticised aesthetic? Who were the patrons, institutions, art schools and collectives who supported these figures? How did the cultures and ideas of the working classes influence the development of British art throughout the twentieth century?
on thursday 7th june i’m presenting the paper ‘this is people-midden’: Exclusionary Violence in the Prison Collaborations of Bill Griffiths and Delvan Ricardo MacIntosh during Of Survival and Struggle: Creative and Critical Responses to Structural and Long-term Violence in the Public Sphere, a one-day colloquium at Queen Mary University of London. the event also features papers by Stuti Khanna, Claire Chambers, Sana Riaz, Dominic Davies, Charlotta Salmi, Shermeen Bano, Nitasha Kaul, Laura Bass, Karina Lickorish Quinn and Rosanna Hunt, plus a keynote by Suvir Kaul. the colloquium runs 9:15am – 5pm in Room 601 of the Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London, 327 mile end road, london e1 4ns.
this will be followed in the evening by a creative showcase with Mojisola Adebayo, Uzma Falak, Meena Kandasamy (t.b.c.), Nitasha Kaul and Mirza Waheed. this will take place 7pm – 8:30pm in the Film and Drama Studio, Arts Two, Queen Mary University of London, 327 mile end road, london e1 4ns. the showcase is free to attend but advance registration is required.
on tuesday 24th april i’m reading at a launch event for ecopoet Helen Moore’s new collections INTACT and The Disinherited. as well as helen and me, there will be poetry from Stephen Watts and Mario Petrucci, plus music by Armorel Weston. it’s upstairs at the Dog House pub, 293 kennington road, london se11 6by. 7pm for 7:30pm start, entry by donation.