The Passing World

‘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.



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Gone Ground

Longbarrow Press concludes its fourteenth year of activity with a review of the events, projects and publications of 2019:

The wind with nothing.
The stone’s directions.

#1  January.  The year opens with the publication and Sheffield launch of Rock as Gloss, Mark Goodwin‘s sixth full-length collection, and his second with Longbarrow Press. Comprising both poems and fictions, Rock as Gloss is a category finalist for the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition, and is named as a ‘book of the year’ by Rob Greenwood on the UK Climbing site (‘a collection as varied as the rock within the British Isles’). The book’s themes of movement and stillness are amplified by a digital release of ‘sound-enhanced’ and field recordings, which you can listen to here.

writing along an invisible
line whose end is infinite

#2  February.  Nancy Gaffield‘s book-length poem Meridian is published by Longbarrow Press, and is marked by a launch in Canterbury. Drawing on her walks from Peacehaven (where the Greenwich Meridian crosses the English south coast) to Sand le Mere (where it exits the erosive East Yorkshire cliffs), it is acclaimed by Katrina Naomi as ‘a charged meditation … lyrical, political and nuanced’, and by Billy Mills as ‘a poem that mourns the passing of the world it is travelling through’.

#3  February – October.  Longbarrow Press sets out its stall at a series of independent book fairs around the UK, including festivals in Leeds, Leicester, Manchester and Sheffield. Thanks to the event organisers, and to everyone who visited our stall.

#4  March.  ‘I want the shape of the poem to be determined by the rhythm of walking—the measure of the step to shore up the measure of the line…’ On the Longbarrow Blog, Nancy Gaffield discusses the walking and writing of Meridian in ‘The First Cut’, and considers the origins and sources of the poem. A companion essay, ‘The Last Step’, looks back at the resulting work, the methods of ’embodied research’ that informed its development, and the range of forms (‘the epistolary poem, the acrostic, the prose poem’) that mirror the paths and landscapes of Meridian‘s 270-mile journey.

#5  April. Longbarrow Press takes part in the two-day Modern Nature symposium at The Hepworth (Wakefield). Editor / publisher Brian Lewis opens with a survey of the press’s ‘collaborations’ with urban and rural landscapes over the years; Fay Musselwhite reads and discuss several poems that focus on humans adapting to changes in their environments; and Pete Green considers shifts in affect and scale from the Wordsworthian sublime to the provincial sublime. Other speakers include writer and environmentalist Zakiya Mckenzie (pictured here with Fay Musselwhite, Pete Green, and Brian Lewis) and poet Helen Mort.

And later the clicking of a passing train
along the valley. The skills people have.
The patience they endure.

#6  May.  The publication of Truth, Justice, and the Companionship of Owls, a new collection by Peter Riley (and his first for Longbarrow Press). Appearing less than a year after his two-volume Collected Poems, it is hailed by Billy Mills as ‘a remarkable late flowering for one of England’s most interesting living poets’, and by Linda France as ‘a compelling and persuasive collection’ (in a wide-ranging piece for Poetry Review). Click here to read an extract from Truth, Justice, and the Companionship of Owls.

#7  MayNancy Gaffield and Mark Goodwin present a one-off collaborative performance at the inaugural Sheaf Poetry Festival in Sheffield, drawing on their collections Rock as Gloss and Meridian to create a new work that explore themes of movement and mapping.

The festival is brought to a close by Rob Hindle and Fay Musselwhite, who lead a poetry walk spanning Rivelin Dams and Redmires Reservoir, via the recently rediscovered WWI training trenches at Quarry Hill. The walk begins with a glimpse of the river Rivelin (in its infancy), winding upward and westward through the ‘defensive landscapes’ that mark the boundary of western Sheffield and the Peak District.

#8  June‘Clare demonstrates how the sublime might be reconfigured in terms of both scale and location – from the grandiose to the humble, and from the notable to the obscure.’  Pete Green revisits his contribution to the Modern Nature symposium, and widens the terms of its enquiry for a new post on the Longbarrow Blog. Click here to read ‘The provincial sublime: transcendence and the post-industrial’.

Like this, like light returning from one mirror
to another, we create each other.

#9  September.  The publication of Angelina D’Roza‘s Correspondences, a hand-stitched pamphlet comprising 18 new poems (and her first title since her debut collection Envies the Birds, of which Peter Riley said: ‘There is an urgency of saying in all D’Roza’s work, to speak experience authentically and thereby lead it beyond the subjective, and to bring it to its point, its meaning, which is never reached in an automatic or conventional way.’). Click here to read a sample poem.

#10  OctoberMatthew Clegg and Ray Hearne perform Clegg’s sequence ‘Holodets’ (from Cazique, his third Longbarrow collection), at The Fat Cat, Sheffield, with songs arranged by singer and musician Hearne. This Russia-themed event also features Alistair Noon, giving his first UK reading from Concert at a Railway Station: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam (Shearsman). Listen to the full performance of Holodets:

gone one’s gone ground that’s
me: gone

#10  NovemberEmma Bolland, Mark Goodwin and Brian Lewis are among the Featured Poets at the fourth Carlisle Poetry Symposium, a one-day event at Tullie House, Carlisle.

Our thanks to everyone who has supported the press over the last 12 months; we return in 2020 with a new series of projects, publications and events, including titles by J.R. Carpenter and Steve Ely. Further details will be posted in the new year.

Photographs: Emma Bolland, Nikki Clayton, Brian Lewis.

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