In true Leslie Knope spirit, London Undercurrents grew out of, and deepened, a friendship between female pals. And when Holland Park Press published our joint poetry collection, two female friends became three – with the addition of the human dynamo that is Bernadette Jansen op de Haar, HPP’s founder.
Our book celebrates women’s resilience despite many different circumstances and it makes a great gift for this year’s pandemic-tainted Galentine’s Day. Gift it to those marvellous women in your life to say thanks; thanks for being there, for telling you you’re on mute on the Zoom call, for sending you silly cat videos to cheer you up.
After all, female friendships have prevailed despite everything and anything that life can throw at them, and that is worth celebrating. You can buy a copy here and Bernadette will post it to your galentine.
We’ve Zoomed, we’ve texted, emailed and chatted on the phone. But there’s nothing quite like shooting the breeze in person – face to face, albeit at a Covid safe distance. We’ve been busy individually with other work and projects, but the idea of working together on London Undercurrents mark 2, in whatever form that may end up taking, has been niggling away at both of us.
So we carved out some time and on Tuesday morning we made our separate ways into central London and met at Piccadilly Circus, where the wide pavements were uncluttered and Eros was tourist-free. We grabbed a takeaway coffee and headed to Golden Square.
After catching up on each other’s recent activities, conversation turned to London Undercurrents and where next. It was great to realise we’re both still keen to collaborate, and to feel the buzz that comes from sharing ideas and sparking off each other. There are endless women we could write about and plenty of different ways we could approach our new research and writing. For the moment, we’ll keep those under wraps while we explore our options. For the next couple of hours we walked and talked, exploring London’s West End in its semi-depopulated lockdown edit.
After admiring the tasteful Christmas decorations in Covent Garden we decided to walk down to Parliament Square, to see Gillian Wearing’s statue of Millicent Fawcett, which Joolz hadn’t seen in real life. It’s an imposing and inspiring statue, which also honours many other women who were involved in the struggle for women’s right to vote – their names and pictures are incorporated into the plinth. A fitting end to our day out in the West End. Then we bumped elbows and parted, Hilaire walking south and Joolz heading north, both of us buzzing with ideas.
A week of poetry kicks off on Monday 28 September, ending 2 October, online as part of Wandworth Library’s cultural events this year. We spoke to Kate Halbura, Library Manager at Wandsworth Town Library, and recorded ourselves reading some of our poems from London Undercurrents – which was great fun. Do tune in to their Facebook page from 8pm each night to hear and see some fantastic poetry. We’re up on Wednesday 30th September.
This month Something Rhymed eavesdrops on a conversation between poets Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire, who let us in on the friendship behind their jointly published poetry collection with Holland Park Press. The culmination of five years’ research and development, part-funded by Arts Council England, London Undercurrents explores the hidden histories of London’s unsung heroines north […]
What a whirlwind of a year it has been for London Undercurrents. Since publication day of our book in March, our feet have barely touched the ground – from the launch, to readings, book signings, being interviewed on London LIVE TV, featuring at ArchWay With Words and many more adventures besides.
A big, big thank you to everyone who bought our book. A massive thank you to Holland Park Press for believing in us and publishing our book in the first place. A big thank you to everyone who attended our readings, and to those who were vocal in their support – the Tweeters, the Facebook posters and bloggers. Thank you to the reviewers who took time to read our book, and wrote such amazing articles about our work. Thank you to poetry lovers and newbies to poetry. Thank you to our families, and to our friends. In a world gone mad and deeply distressing – thank you to the beacons of hope who believe in the power of words.