poetry and updates from matt martin
My forthcoming Poetry against Slavery tours for the Being Human Festival have been written about in the Times Higher Education Supplement’s article Engagement: not just nice to have, but the next step in research? by Matthew Reisz. I’m quoted regarding the inspiration behind the tours, and about how this public engagement activity will feed back into my research. The article’s online incarnation is behind a paywall, but if you make an account with the THES you can get three free articles a month. The tours are free and will take place at 12pm and 3pm on Sunday 18, Thursday 22 and Saturday 24 November 2018 at the Museum of London Docklands, No. 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL.
On Friday 23rd November I’m performing as part of Babelsprech Eurovision Poetry. Babelsprech is a literary platform for live events across Europe. This event is the London manifestation of a project which sees readings occur simultaneously in multiple cities across the continent. New works are being made by European and London-based poets. Each will respond to the concept of multilingual poetry, or will deconstruct the fundamental material of a European language. Other performers in a brilliant line-up are Livia Franchini, Kostya Tsolákis, Tatiana Faia, Olga Kolesnikova, Silje Ree, SJ Fowler, Calliope Michail, Stephen Watts, Juana Adcock, Kirsten Irving, Clover Peake, Peter Jaeger and Russell Bennetts. The venue is the Torriano Meeting House, 99 Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, London NW5 2RX. 7pm start. Free entry.
If you’re not in London but do find yourself in Vaduz, Chernivtsi, Frankfurt, Cologne, Ljubljana, Lucerne, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Vienna or Zurich on the evening of the 23rd, please do treat yourself by visiting the parallel Babelsprech event in one of those cities.
On Saturday 3rd November, I’m giving a talk entitled ‘Me atell him in Hinglish voice’, which will look at code-switching, the practice of changing how we speak to suit the situation, in work by London-based poets from the Caribbean. This is part of the Languages of London family festival, a two-day celebration of the many languages that have been spoken in east London. The venue is the Museum of London Docklands, No. 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL. All activities, including my talk, are free; a few workshops are free but ticketed (ask for tickets on arrival at the museum). My talk is at 2.30pm. The rest of the festival features an abundance of fun and educational activities for all the family, starting at 12pm and finishing at 4pm on both Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th November.
On Friday 26th October I’ll be at the University of Cambridge, presenting my paper Inventing New Ancestors: Kamau Brathwaite at the Poetry of the Americas Conference as part of Legacies of Colonialism, a conference organised by Race and Poetry and Poetics in the UK (RAPAPUK), an international research group that aims to challenge racial divisions in British poetry. I’m on the 4pm panel Radical Black Traditions, alongside Maryama Dahir and Deirdre Osborne. The conference continues on Saturday 27th October. Across the two days, the host of other interesting presentations includes:
The conference runs 9.30am-5pm on both days, in the Bowett Room, Queen’s College, Cambridge CB3 9ET. There will then be poetry readings in the evening, 6.30pm-8pm – on Friday these will take place in the Judith E Wilson Drama Studio, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP, while on Saturday they will be at a different Cambridge venue TBC. Attendance is free but advance registration is encouraged, as are donations – half of the money raised will go to help the attendance of people who aren’t affiliated to universities, while the rest will be given to Unis Resist Border Controls.
The London, Sugar & Slavery gallery at the Museum of London Docklands is a unique resource for exploring London’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, and for understanding the trade’s present-day legacies. As part of the museum’s Black History Month programme in October, and during the nationwide Being Human Festival in November, I’ll be leading Poetry against Slavery – a recurring, one-hour guided tour of the gallery, exploring how poetry has galvanised resistance against the oppression of African, Caribbean and Black British people. The tour results from an academic partnership between the museum and Birkbeck, University of London, where I have been researching these themes.
From Africa’s rich heritage, through preservation of cultural legacies during slavery, to recent political activism, participants will encounter and discuss poems that give voice to objects and images in the museum. Discover how African cultural origins have influenced language and poetry in the Caribbean, how poems inspired anti-slavery action in the Caribbean and the UK, and how later poets have drawn upon this history to oppose continuing racial injustices. The spoken and written word will emerge as powerful ways to build solidarity among and between communities. No advance reading required – all texts will be provided on the day.
This guided tour takes place at 12pm and 3pm on Thu 4 October (National Poetry Day), Sun 14 October, Sun 21 October, Thu 25 October, Sun 18 November, Thu 22 November and Sat 24 November. Venue: Museum of London Docklands, No. 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL. The tour and museum entry are both free. All are welcome, no need to book.
On 2nd February 2018 I presented the paper ‘We always look as if we’re disappearing’: Missed Connections between the Caribbean Artists Movement and the British Poetry Revival at the Stuart Hall Foundation Fellows and Scholars Event, a conference held at Conway Hall in London. a PDF of the paper is now available on the website of the Stuart Hall Foundation.
On Sunday 2nd September 2018 I will present my paper ‘The way in which we learn to sing’: Stuart Hall’s ‘West Indians in Britain’ 50 Years Later as part of Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures, a three-day conference at the University of Leeds. I’m on the 4pm panel Time, Sound, Vision, Performance, alongside Mark Harris and Dorottya K Mozes. The conference features an abundance of stimulating papers and performances, running from 8:30am on Friday 31st august to 6pm on Sunday 2nd september. it’s at Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Moorland Road, Leeds LS6 1AN. Registration fees vary.
4 poems from my sequence …to the end are in issue 8 of the online zine ctrl+alt+del.
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.