We were both delighted to be invited by Peter Raynard to read at his Proletarian Poetry curated Shuffle back in June. Unfortunately the event clashed with Hilaire’s holiday to Greece. So it fell to Joolz to represent the south London Undercurrents contingency too.
The night was hot and sultry, (not unlike Greece, but without the beach) and the line-up was scorching. Jo Bell, Hannah Lowe, Inua Ellams, Owen Gallagher and Malika Booker.
Proletarian Poetry is a home for poets and poems that portray working class lives from many different angles. And includes all forms of poetry, persona, plain, lyrical, vernacular and performance. The Shuffle certainly had all that, that night.
Owen Gallagher is from the Gorbals, Glasgow, and lives in London. He read from his collection Tea with the Taliban, opening the evening with quietly spoken pith.
Jo Bell was born in Sheffield and lives on a canal boat. Reading from her second collection Kith, she encouraged us to sing along to a ‘chorus’ and to be ducks demanding bread, now, now and now. Warm, inclusive and compelling.
Malika Booker was born in London to Guyanese and Grenadian parents and is founder of the writers’ collective Malika’s Kitchen (which I am a member of). She read from her collection Pepper Seed, harkening to an ancestry and again, encouraging us to participate along as she intoned a mantra of her mother’s ‘pain’.
Hannah Lowe’s tall elegance defies her strong working class accent. She read from her first collection Chick – candid reflections on growing up with her Chinese-black Jamaican father who amongst other things was a professional gambler.
Inua Ellams was born in Nigeria, lives and works in London, is founder of The Midnight Run, and owner of many fantastic hats. His lyrical voice brought us powerful stories, dipping in and out of his many projects.
And me – reading from London Undercurrents, both north and south parts. I stopped short of doing my best Aussie accent! There was no need – Hilaire’s poems were steeped with her quietly powerful stillness. Each word, precise, nothing wasted.
Vive le prolétariat!