Almost as soon as we called a halt on the latest phase of New Boots activities, just shy of Trumpo’s 100 days – lo the Great Gibberer finally managed to cut off medical support to millions of poorer US citizens by getting his miscackulation of a Health Care Act through the House of Representatives.
And almost as soon as the consequences of that hit home, the results from the UK-wide council elections were upon us, and it would seem the many strong and stable volte faces of Theresa May have been rewarded with the loyalty of thousands of loyal UKIP loyalists.
What, almost nobody demanded, were the poets writing about this? What specifically, literally no-one added, were New Boots and Pantisocracies’s plans? Wearied by if not inured to the Ongoing Ungoodness of Events, dear boy, the utility of a daily articulation of poetic protest might seem minor and muted, someone shouting something that’s probably predictable from within their lefty dome of used if many-coloured principles.
There is undeniably a law of diminishing returns to the poem as merely oppositional statement, though we’d argue that over the three hundred posts we’ve put up since the 2015 General Election, very few were merely oppositional – au contraire, quite a few were bloody-mindedly oppositional to the nth degree.
But what we’ve been after, and have been very grateful on the whole to receive, are poems which enact an imaginative resistance to a failure of the imagination, a retrenchment around a few deeply unhappy motives of greed and fear, a worldview in which it’s more important that what’s mine isn’t yours than to examine what what’s mine is in the first place.
The nature of that resistance is what we’re currently reading back through and assessing – we’d like to think there might be a further publishable volume articulating how the poets of these islands responded to turbulent times – a survey of many ways of looking rather than the expression of one particular constituency or coterie. The viability of Volume 2, however, is also rather dependent on how well Volume 1 does.
We’ve already done and will continue to do readings from the book in an effort to spread the message and, yes, drive up sales. So far we’ve read to perfectly-formed crowdlets in Middlesbrough, ideological home of Smokestack Books, and at this year’s StAnza. Next events are:
June 29th at 7pm in Newcastle’s Lit & Phil
August 15th at 12:30pm at the Bosco Theatre (George Street)
(Programme goes live, ironically, on June 8th)
We hope to see you there, and will announce arrangements for readers nearer the time. If you can help set up a similar event near you, please get in touch.
For the moment, might we suggest that if you’ve read this far, and don’t yet possess your very own copy of New Boots and Pantisocracies, then why not bloody well buy one, mate? Or at least suggest to a friend you know would love it that they do so? One two or many can still be got here.
Simultaneously with these noble and worthy endeavours, though, both editors are schemin and plannin what to do when we relaunch on June 8th.
Our manifesto pledges are: we’re going to reduce the numbers of posts to one a week, and that will be, as when we started, a commissioned post. For this we’re going to approach writers who have not yet written anything for the project. This will appear on a Monday.
We will also, however, invite open submissions on a rolling basis – including from more regular contributors – suggesting themes as they occur. Depending on what we receive, then, we may publish a second supplementary poem on a Wednesday.
We’ve also been proud to reproduce images from Sophie Herxheimer (who single-nibbedly invented the category of Protest Calligraphy), and of course, Tim Turnbull, who produced our haunting and loverly cover. We will therefore also be commissioning further graphic work which will appear, when we gots some, on a Friday.
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