‘That day, on the picket line, I had become aware of the conceptual space of ‘university’ as contested as if for the first time. What was the space we now stood outside of? What was it we were fighting for? We talked of what a university might be. What if it could be free again? What if anyone could go, regardless of prior qualifications? What if students could move freely between disciplines, study for as long or as short as they wanted? What if there were no grades, no awards? What if the purpose of learning was learning and life?’ In a new post for the Longbarrow Blog, artist and writer Emma Bolland reflects on the recent UCU strike, editing the Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities: Sheffield anthology, and the ‘transformative spaces’ of pub and picket line. Click here to read ‘On Cities, Solidarity, Loss, and Hope’.
‘There are many reasons to feel excited about the contemporary poetry scene. There are also reasons why a person might become jaded. Poets often feel marginalised, or ignored. Not everyone can find a way into the cliques and factions, or feel at home in them once they have. There is nothing precious about Democracy of Words, but plenty to be valued. There is the buzz of being in the street, watching happenstance splash against the day’s canvas. Some of us need to return to street level, and test the power of language in the most direct and immediate fashion – where ego or elitism cannot shield us.’ For several years, Democracy of Words – a participatory pop-up event – has been a highlight of the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival. In autumn 2019, it moved out of Mexborough High Street to find new audiences in Elsecar, Rotherham and Doncaster. Matthew Clegg chronicles the project’s migration in ‘A Democracy of Words’, and celebrates its engagement with ‘the passing world’. You can read the post here.
‘It started with a river, the way cities do…’ Our new Featured Poem is ‘Lullaby’ by Angelina D’Roza (from her new pamphlet Correspondences); you can read it here. Correspondences is launched upstairs at The Rutland Arms (86 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS) on Thursday 19 March (7.30pm start, admission free), with readings from D’Roza and Katharine Towers (who will also be launching her new pamphlet from Happenstance). On Thursday 26 March, Chris Jones hosts Hauntings, a themed poetry and spoken word event, with contributions from Matthew Clegg, Emma Bolland, Rob Hindle, Fay Musselwhite, Mark Goodwin, and more. Join us upstairs at The Fat Cat, 23 Alma Street, Sheffield, S3 8SA (7.30pm start, admission free). UPDATE (15 March): Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, these two events have now been postponed indefinitely; we hope to reschedule them later in the year.
A few months later, the city of Sheffield hosts the second Sheaf Poetry Festival, which runs from 15—24 May. Further information will appear on the festival website in late March. UPDATE (19 March): Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Sheaf Poetry Festival has been postponed until November 2020; we hope to confirm the new festival dates in the near future. Among the poets appearing at the festival will be J.R. Carpenter, whose This is a Picture of Wind – ‘part poetic almanac, part private weather diary’ – will appear in hardback from Longbarrow Press later this year (with a foreword by Johanna Drucker, and a poetic afterword by Vahni Capildeo). You can access the online iteration of This is a Picture of Wind here.