Longbarrow Press looks back on its fifteenth year of activity with a round-up of the essays, projects and publications of 2020:
#1 January – February. ‘What was the space we now stood outside of? What was it we were fighting for?’ We start the year with two essays that examine the relationship between public space and creative practice. In ‘On Cities, Solidarity, Loss, and Hope’, Emma Bolland reflects on strikes and collective action, editing the Cities: Sheffield anthology, and the ‘transformative spaces’ of pub and picket line. You can read it here. ‘Poetry climbs down from its pedestal. Parts of the street step into poetry. Happenstance keeps everyone alert. The open interaction is an artform in itself.’ In ‘A Democracy of Words’, Matthew Clegg chronicles the migration of this participatory pop-up event from Mexborough High Street to Elsecar, Rotherham and Doncaster, and celebrates its engagement with ‘the passing world’. Click here to read the post.
#2 March – April. As the COVID-19 pandemic signals a closing down of public space, we publish the first in a series of free, downloadable PDFs. Intended as a ‘stocktake’ and a shareable resource, Outports, a selection of 14 poems (and one essay) draws on the 14 years of Longbarrow Press, and features work by most of the poets who have published with us since 2006. Click here to download the anthology. The second digital supplement, Night Walks, tightens the focus, retracing a winter’s journey along the River Don as it passes through north Sheffield, with poems by Angelina D’Roza, Pete Green, Chris Jones and Fay Musselwhite, photos by Emma Bolland, and an essay by Brian Lewis. You can read and download the PDF here.
#3 April. ‘This landscape has often stood in for other landscapes, landscapes that I couldn’t get to, so much so that I often forget that it also stands for itself.’ On the first morning of the UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown, Brian Lewis took the first in a series of short, local walks, documenting the impact of these new constraints on the experience of public space. These daily entries are gathered as ‘Lockdown Walks’, a series of five posts on the Longbarrow Blog. Part one (24–30 March) appears here; part two (31 March–6 April) appears here; part three (7–13 April) appears here; part four (14–18 April) appears here; part five (19–22 April) appears here.
it. And it hurts still, to find all the fields
of your heart tightened into a plastic packet.
#4 May – June. In April 2020, Louis & Mark Goodwin visited the site of their former family home in Bittesby, Leicestershire, its ‘ways’ now buried, the cottage and farm buildings scheduled for demolition. ‘The Flattening & Covering Wave, an April this 2020’ records and reflects on these processes of displacement, enclosure, and ‘flattening’; you can read it here. ‘… there is no escaping, by climbing nor walking, not by going across nor up … there is something dark laid down here … below us all …’ Leicestershire is the setting for a further post on the Longbarrow Blog, in which Mark Goodwin takes imaginative flight to Bradgate Park, and conjures a range of ‘tiny mountains’ from this ‘bowl of embers’. Click here to read ‘Reach, a Bradgate Oddity’.
#5 June. The publication of J.R. Carpenter‘s This is a Picture of Wind. Part poetic almanac, part private weather diary, this print iteration of Carpenter’s web-based project attempts to call attention to climate change by picturing through variations in language the disturbances and sudden absences left in the wake of wind. The poems that ensued are gathered in this book, with an introduction by Johanna Drucker, and a poetic afterword by Vahni Capildeo. This is a Picture of Wind is among the titles included in The Guardian’s Best poetry books of 2020; you can read Rishi Dastidar’s appraisal here. This is a Picture of Wind also features in Derek Beaulieu’s most engaging books of 2020, and is one of Kirsty Dunlop’s picks for SPAM Press’s Deep Cuts 2020. Click here for more information about the book.
#6 June – August. Working Landscapes is the first of three place-themed digital supplements published by Longbarrow Press in summer 2020. This selection of poems, photographs, and essays by Emma Bolland, Matthew Clegg, Karl Hurst, Brian Lewis, Fay Musselwhite and Mary Musselwhite explores the relationship between labour and land, and looks at how the role of labour – and the withdrawal of labour – is frequently written out of the narratives of place. Click here to download the PDF. The second supplement, Soft Borders, foreground the shifts in perception that transform our understanding of place, with contributions from Matthew Clegg, Angelina D’Roza, Pete Green and Alistair Noon. Click here to download the PDF. Finally, Invisible Lines, which draws on work by Nancy Gaffield, Mark Goodwin, Rob Hindle, and Chris Jones, focuses on the interdependency of movement and mapping, and the extent to which our itineraries are informed by cartographical detail and subjective experience. Click here to download the PDF.
#8 August. ‘It is a time out of season and the picture is in colour.’ ‘The Haul’ is a fragmentary memoir by Brian Lewis, of gathering in and letting go, at the end of a short, unsettled season, and also stands as an oblique postscript to the earlier ‘Lockdown Walks’. Click here to read it on the Longbarrow Blog.
sound mirrors marooned
on a man-made isle
#9 November. The publication / release of Wealden, a new pamphlet and CD by Nancy Gaffield and The Drift. A collective exploration of the marshes, shingle, and dense woodlands of southern Kent, Wealden deals with the strata – geological, cultural and historical – that have been laid down over the course of one brief millennium, and considers the imminence of the sea reclaiming it all. The poetry (by Gaffield) and the music (by Darren Pilcher, Rob Pursey and Amelia Fletcher) were composed in tandem – the music re-worked to underscore the evolving verse, the poetry revised in response to the atmospheres and rhythm of the music. Wealden is widely acclaimed on release, with Alistair Fitchett’s review for the Caught by the River site foregrounding the listener’s experience, to which he brings ‘effort, time and a devotion that is richly rewarded’. Later in the year, Nancy Gaffield and The Drift discuss the development of the work in a wide-ranging interview, opening up a process that ‘begins with sound phenomena that are shaped into a composition in tandem with the words.’ Click here to read ‘Walking, observing, listening’ on the Longbarrow Blog.
#10 December. ‘I began the series In Domicile with the idea of photographing one tree over the course of a year. However, it didn’t quite turn out that way.’ Our final post of 2020 is a new essay by Karl Hurst, reflecting on the origins of Victorian botanical culture, the ‘containment’ of the English landscape, and the ideas behind his own photographic practice. Click here to read ‘In Domicile: Against the Fallacy of Exoticism’ on the Longbarrow Blog.
Our thanks to everyone who has supported the press over the last 12 months; we return in 2021 with a new series of projects, publications and events, including titles by Chris Jones and Steve Ely. Further details will be posted in the new year.
Photographs: Emma Bolland, J.R. Carpenter, Louis Goodwin, Karl Hurst, Brian Lewis, Rob Pursey.