All posts by London Undercurrents

About London Undercurrents

London Undercurrents is an ongoing collaboration between poets Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire to uncover the hidden histories of London’s unsung heroines, who have lived and worked in the capital city over many centuries, north and south of the river.

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 […]

via Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire — Something Rhymed

Thank you 2019!

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.

May all your 2020s be merry and bright.

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Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

What reviewers are saying about London Undercurrents

To be seen. To be heard. To be understood. It’s made us a bit teary at times. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed our book – and thank you to all our readers. It’s what we did it all for – to communicate with our fellow human beings. If you’d like to review, or buy, our book you can contact Bernadette at Holland Park Press.

“London Undercurrents offers a cornucopia of female experience across four centuries, from spirited cockneys and land girls, to factory workers and women in service. The result is both fascinating and educational… Back-street abortions, lead poisoning, sit-ins by Gujarati workers, frost fairs on the Thames, 18th century lavender harvests, knitting for the Spanish Republicans – wherever women have tilled, toiled, laughed, suffered or survived, Hilaire and Sparkes follow, with empathy and imagination… The poets have tapped into a rich array of character and circumstance and transformed it, with exuberance and clarity, into poetry which is fresh and accessible.”

Claire Booker, Ink Sweat and Tears

“Gathering and grouping the poetic products of Sparkes and Hilaire’s combined research […] thematically as opposed to chronologically or separated into two authored halves of the North and South of the city, allows each piece and each voice to converse in a way that builds connections; by-lines that travel between the experiences of women through the landscape of the city and into the past… these poems feel full of possibility even in desperate situations, and in other moments, gleeful and utterly joyous… The richness and variety, intrigue and emotion, together provides an illustration of London as a tumultuous and exhilarating place, occupied by women throughout its history who have built and shaped its terrain from the bottom up and from the top down.”

Laura Tansley, Litro Magazine 

“The Thames runs through it. North and south of the famous river lie the “hidden histories” of mostly forgotten women. London Undercurrents brings them vividly back into our literary consciousness in this remarkable collection, written and compiled by two of the city’s female poets… What emerges through these evocative and accessible poems is a unique urban chronicle that is a joy to engage with.”

Karina Magdalena, Cape Times, 7 June 2019

 “Many of these poems are exuberant in their experimentations with dialect and linguistic play… there is no shortage of poems that deal with serious subjects in witty, light-hearted, accessible language… This volume of poems kindles curiosity, as it sheds light on the underground lives of women, their determination and humble struggles, across different periods and places in London.”

Jennifer Wong, Magma issue 74

“…an intriguing, worthy collaboration that focuses on histories in two specific areas of London. The poems imaginatively give voices to stories often overlooked from those who usually go unheard. Both poets, Hilaire and Joolz Sparks, have distinct but complementary voices but share the ability to use selective details to bring their subjects to life in an engaging manner.”
Award-winning reviewer Emma Lee, blogpost https://emmalee1.wordpress.com

“This collection scores highly because of its unusual subject matter, its slice of social history, striking vocabulary and clever wordplay. Above all, it fills a gap in our understanding of the conditions under which women worked north and south of the river. Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire have not only come up with a brilliant idea, they have executed it with panache.”

Neil Leadbeater, WriteOutLoud