Culture Matters

Culture Matters

The Sacred and the Profane: Poetry workshops with Jenny Mitchell
Tuesday, 27 February 2024 15:14

The Sacred and the Profane: Poetry workshops with Jenny Mitchell

Published in Poetry
 

Culture Matters is proud to present two online poetry workshops on the theme of The Sacred and the Profane, led by award-winning poet Jenny Mitchell.

How can poetry help us to reimagine traditional ideas about belief? How can poetic approaches to spirituality and worship lead us to a renewed sense of Joy, Wonder, and Hope? And how might this help to shape a more radical and compassionate future?

The award-winning poet Jenny Mitchell will offer 2 online workshops of 2 hours each, using poetry prompts to encourage participants to write about secular and non-secular beliefs in a relaxed and creative atmosphere. There will be an opportunity to share work and receive constructive feedback, with ample time between sessions for participants to absorb ideas and craft their poetic responses. The workshops are open to new and experienced poets alike.

Dates: 29th May and 5th June from 4-6pm on both days. Fee: £5 for each session, with two free places. First come, first served. 25 Participants max. Sign up here to receive link.

The event will be hosted by Culture Matters' Commissioning Editor, Fran Lock, who will also introduce the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2024.

Jenny Mitchell is winner of the Poetry Book Awards 2021, the Bedford Prize, the Ware Prize and joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2019. Her poems have been widely published and she has been nominated twice for the Forward Prize: Best Single Poem. The best-selling debut collection, Her Lost Language, is ‘One of 44 Poetry Books for 2019’ (Poetry Wales). Her second collection, Map of a Plantation, has been chosen as a ‘Literary Find’ (Irish Independent), and both books are on the syllabus of Manchester Metropolitan University. Her latest collection is called Resurrection of a Black Man.

Fran Lock Ph. D. is a poet, writer and activist, shortlisted for the 2023 TS Eliot Poetry Prize, and the former Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellow at Cambridge University (2022-2023). She is the author of thirteen poetry collections, most recently 'a disgusting lie' (further adventures through the neo-liberal hell mouth), published by Pamenar Press in September 2023. She is a member of the New Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, and she edits the Soul Food column for Communist Review. A collection of essays exploring feral subjectivity through the lens of the medieval bestiary is forthcoming from Out-Spoken Press later this year. Fran is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters. 

Callout: The Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2024
Tuesday, 27 February 2024 15:05

Callout: The Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2024

Published in Poetry

We are very pleased to announce that thanks to support from Unison (Newcastle City Centre branch), and Newcastle Trades Union Council, the eighth Bread and Roses Poetry Award is now open until the end of August for entries.

Our mission is to promote cultural democracy in all the arts and other cultural activities. We run the Bread and Roses Poetry Award to create opportunities for working people to write poetry, and to encourage all poets to focus on themes which are meaningful to working-class communities.

This year we are asking for poems to focus as usual on themes relevant to working-class life, struggle, communities and culture, including poems on the Spirit of Socialism / the Socialism of the Spirit, to be interpreted as broadly as entrants can imagine. Jenny Mitchell, a poet who has previously won the Bread and Roses Award (as well as several other awards), is supporting this strand to the B and R Award this year by running two workshops on the theme The Sacred and the Profane. See here for further details and to sign up.

As in previous years, there will be 5 prizes of £100 each for the best poems, and the judges will be Dr. Fran Lock, poet, Associate Editor of Culture Matters, shortlisted for the 2023 TS Eliot Poetry Prize, and Alan Morrison, poet, editor, Associate Editor of Culture Matters and also a past winner of the Bread and Roses Poetry Award.

Rules and Guidelines 

1. You may enter one or two original, previously unpublished (in print) poems in English, no more than 50 lines long each.

2. You must be resident in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland.

3. Entry is free and there will be five prizes of £100 each for the best poems.

4. Entries should broadly deal with themes relevant to working-class life, politics, communities and culture, including the Spirit of Socialism / the Socialism of the Spirit.

5. Entries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by midnight on 31st August 2023. No entries will be accepted after that date.

6. Please include the poem(s) and your name, address, and email contact details in the body of the email.

7. All entries remain the copyright of the author, but Culture Matters will have the right to publish them online and in print.

8. By entering the Award, entrants agree to accept and be bound by the rules of the Award and the decisions of the judge. We are unable to respond individually to submissions.

We will publish an anthology of selected poems and send free copies to all the poets included. Below is the pdf of last year's book, you're welcome to download it and we hope you enjoy reading it. You're also welcome to make a donation here if you can afford it, which will help pay for us to continue with the Bread and Roses Poetry Award.

 

A new and original anthology of radical Welsh poetry
Friday, 23 February 2024 12:21

A new and original anthology of radical Welsh poetry

Published in Poetry

Culture Matters intends to publish a new and original anthology of radical Welsh poetry. It will be edited by Mike Jenkins, founder member of the Red Poets collective and an Associate Editor of Culture Matters.

Submissions are warmly invited, and here are some guidelines:

Guidelines 

1. Entries can be one or two poems in English or Welsh, and can be in dialect variants of either language. Poems should be no longer than 50 lines, and be unpublished in print.

2. Authors do not have to be Welsh or live in Wales, but entries should broadly deal with themes relevant to Welsh working-class life, politics, communities and culture. They should focus on Welsh struggles for justice and peace, locally, nationally and internationally, and can be set in the past, present or future. Perhaps you could inspiration in the image above - The Idealist / Mae'r ddelfrydwr, by Gus Payne.

3. Entries should be sent toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by midnight on 31st July 2024, copied to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. No entries can be accepted after that date.

4. Please include the poem(s) and your name, address, and contact details in the body of the email as well as in an attachment.

5. All entries will remain the copyright of the author, but Culture Matters will have the right to publish them online and as a printed book. Contributors will receive a free copy of the anthology.

Money and Blood
Sunday, 18 February 2024 13:24

Money and Blood

Published in Books

Anyone familiar with Wayne’ Dean-Richards’ work will recognise the themes in Money & Blood, chief among them being, as the title suggests, money and blood. The corrupting power of capitalism and its tragic, often violent consequences can be seen throughout the book.

Elsewhere the legacy of abuse is darker still: it’s revenge rather than redemption that motivates the hero of ‘Notes from an Angry Young Man’, for instance, who directs his own ‘great anger’ at society after a lifetime of mistreatment by his alcoholic dad. Such lives are shaped mostly by the past, and an inherited ideology: inherited values, inherited financial constraints, inherited systems of hierarchy and exclusion.

Wayne Dean-Richards may not be an overtly political writer, but it’s hard not to think in political terms when we read his work. The inequities of capitalism, and the values and assumptions that accompany it, frequently underpin the conflicts that drive his fiction. Alienation, alcoholism, broken relationships, diminished self-worth, and mental illness pervade these stories, and the connections between money and blood are everywhere to be seen.

Wayne Dean-Richards has been writing such stories all his life, and few would argue that they feel more relevant now than ever.

Money and Blood, ISBN 978-1-912710-56-0, £10 plus £3 p. and p. Please pay here and send your address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Poetry for Palestine: Testament / Sajél, by Farid Bitar
Sunday, 11 February 2024 16:00

Poetry for Palestine: Testament / Sajél, by Farid Bitar

Published in Poetry

Farid Bitar's Testament / Sajél, as its title suggests, is a testament to our tempestuous times, taking in the seismic events and vicissitudes of the past few years, including the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-22, and the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the death of George Floyd. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the current and agonisingly ongoing Israeli seige of Gaza, and mass displacement of Gazans, which some term the second Palestinian catastrophe or Nakba, dominates this collection.

Farid Bitar is one of many contemporary Palestinian poets who are bearing witness through their poetries to a second Nakba, and quite apart from artistic qualities the sheer emotional courage of such output at this time must be applauded. Bitar is a poet who has spoken out before in his work on the Palestinian plight, in collections such as Screaming Olives (Smokestack Books, 2021), and in Testament / Sajél there is a further cementing of this polemical resolve, but interweaving all is a verse of deliverance. Farid has also illustrated the book with 34 beautiful images, like this one:

FB image resized 

This is the poetry of trauma. But in spite of the bitterest of experiences, Bitar's is a spirited poetry, a poetry of hope, which Culture Matters is proud to publish, particularly at this catastrophic time for all Palestinians. 50% of sales proceeds will go to Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Testament / Sajél by Farid Bitar, ISBN 978-1-912710-68-3, £12 inc. p. and p. in UK, £12 plus £5 p. and p. elsewhere. Please pay via the Donations button here, and send your name and address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Poetry for Palestine: Testament / Sajél, by Farid Bitar
Sunday, 11 February 2024 15:39

Poetry for Palestine: Testament / Sajél, by Farid Bitar

Published in Books

Farid Bitar's Testament / Sajél, as its title suggests, is a testament to our tempestuous times, taking in the seismic events and vicissitudes of the past few years, including the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-22, and the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the death of George Floyd. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the current and agonisingly ongoing Israeli seige of Gaza, and mass displacement of Gazans, which some term the second Palestinian catastrophe or Nakba, dominates this collection.

Farid Bitar is one of many contemporary Palestinian poets who are bearing witness through their poetries to a second Nakba, and quite apart from artistic qualities the sheer emotional courage of such output at this time must be applauded. Bitar is a poet who has spoken out before in his work on the Palestinian plight, in collections such as Screaming Olives (Smokestack Books, 2021), and in Testament / Sajél there is a further cementing of this polemical resolve, but interweaving all is a verse of deliverance. Farid has also illustrated the book with 34 beautiful images, like this one:

FB image resized 

This is the poetry of trauma. But in spite of the bitterest of experiences, Bitar's is a spirited poetry, a poetry of hope, which Culture Matters is proud to publish, particularly at this catastrophic time for all Palestinians. 50% of sales proceeds witll go to Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Testament / Sajél by Farid Bitar, ISBN 978-1-912710-68-3, £12 inc. p. and p. in UK, £12 plus £5 p. and p. elsewhere. Please pay via the Donations button here, and send your name and address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

I'm Explaining a Few Things... About Gaza 
Sunday, 04 February 2024 09:26

I'm Explaining a Few Things... About Gaza 

Published in Films
The Art Of Resistance presents a short film about Gaza. Image above: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APA images
 
There is a climate of intimidation concerning criticism of Israel. Anyone who speaks out about the Gaza genocide, particularly creative figures, is certain to suffer media attack. Roger Waters is probably the best known example. Eighty years ago, the treatment of the great Nobel prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda, was similar. Until the Spanish Civil War of 1936-38, Neruda had been celebrated as the great modern Spanish love poet. The war changed that. It drew Neruda into the centre of politics. 
 
Neruda's great poem, I'm Explaining a Few Things, like Picasso's painting, was created in response to the bombing of civilians by Hitler and Mussolini's airforces at Guernica in 1937. This atrocity resulted in the death of over 1000 civilians. As of today, December 11th, 2023, over eighteen times that number have been buried in the rubble of Gaza. Almost eight thousand children have been killed by Israeli bombing. If he were alive today, maybe Neruda's poem would have gone something like this. 
 
I'm Explaining a Few Things... About Gaza 
Text by John Graham Davies, after an original poem by Pablo Neruda, translated by Nathaniel Tarn. 
Readers: John Graham Davies, Tayo Aluko, Amina Atiq @aminaatiqartist, Haneen @scousersforpalestine 
Producer: Chris Bernard 
Cameras: Hazuan Hashim, Phil Maxwell 

Editor: Hazuan Hashim

I'm explaining a few things.....about Gaza - 7 min - 2023 from Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell on Vimeo.

A Brief and Biased History of Love
Thursday, 18 January 2024 17:22

A Brief and Biased History of Love

Published in Books

'A soft, blunt, insistent rhythm in Alan Humm’s lines beats time to accounts of absent friends, of urban landscapes, of past and present violence, of love’s uncertainties.'

- David Harsent

'Alan Humm's poised and poignant debut collection illuminates, with laser accuracy, ‘the dark shape in your heart/that comes to claim you as its own'. Here is first love, paternal love, spiritual love, the love for friends and for shared music – the songs that can change you and yet still take you back to who you once were. Above all, Humm understands the cost of love: loss, grief, yearning, the love that doesn't satisfy and doesn't comfort. The love that, as he adapts Yeats in his own new version of Byzantium, 'makes a country for old men'.

His searingly honest verse is shot through with startling imagery ('a dog reads midges/like foreign type' in 'Summer, newly over') while every line is perfectly placed, every word made to count. As a result, his luminous poems map the course not just of the poet's but all of our emotional lives. As Humm notes: 'Well, we all lose it;/ the thing that glows'. In the meantime, A Brief and Biased History of Love pinpoints the lingering shimmer of shared experience with exceptional confidence and compassion.'

- Jo Balmer, author of Catullus: Poems of Love and Hate.

'There is a searching quality to Alan Humm’s poetry. Like an anchorite drinking in each and every detail to sustain them for their ascetic seclusion in the cell, he looks, has looked at things very closely. But his is a secular perspective, with the intention of describing with exactitude the elusive incident of the everyday: the quality of light in its countless varieties, how it transforms the colour of a leaf or the aspect of a building; the accidental loveliness a body can acquire in movement and leisure.

His writing deftly investigates the mutability of experience – elements and sensations shift, merge, exchange – so light is “like a cupped hand” and “water seems black and hard as anthracite”. When the poet turns his eye towards people, the results are both compassionate and unflinching, from a tender sequence mediating on the grace notes and quirks of old friends to several powerfully visceral poems about the emotional contusions incurred from living with an alcoholic father.

This is an impressive, thoughtful debut which ultimately seeks answers to a great many inscrutabilities – not least why as humans we return to love as instinctively as breathing. To accompany him as a reader in his search is surprising and rewarding.'

- Louise Peterkin, author of The Night Jar.

A Brief and Biased History of Love, by Alan Humm, ISBN 978-1-912710-55-3, is £9 plus £3 p. and p. Please order using the Donate button here, leaving your name and address at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we'll fulfil your order promptly.

Rebel Admin
Thursday, 18 January 2024 16:33

Rebel Admin

Published in Books

The poems in Rebel Admin are visually intense, and syntactically jagged; they create a sort of fragmentary cinema, one that works to signal the irrational absurdity of neoliberal culture, but also to disrupt its plausibly smooth and continuously scrolling script.

Humour—of a uniquely warped and whacked-out variety—is the throughline of Rebel Admin, the constant current in its wild carnival of disorder. In ‘Man Reading Gibbon on The Midland Red’ a chance sighting of a passenger on a Midland Red bus reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by rationalist historian Edward Gibbon sparks a gleefully irrational poem of ranting whimsy in which rationalist aims and ideologies are satirised and upended.

Humour for Hutchins is a species of glitch; it mirrors his radical use of syntax and grammar, his strange portmanteau and hapax legomena, his judicious use of archaicism and slang to—in the manner of Walter Benjamin’s ‘dialectical image’—disrupt or shock, and to expose through this shock our relationship to the historical, political, and cultural forces that govern our contingent moment.

Against the numbing spectacle and sinister machinery of capitalism he erects a savvy lyric vision that is part Mark E. Smith, part William Blake.

Rebel Admin., by Al Hutchins, ISBN 978-1-912710-61-4, is £9 plus £3 p. and p. Please order using the Donate button here, leaving your name and address at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we'll fulfil your order promptly.

Culture Matters proudly presents: Rebel Admin @ Centrala, Digbeth, 9th February
Thursday, 18 January 2024 16:14

Culture Matters proudly presents: Rebel Admin @ Centrala, Digbeth, 9th February

Published in Poetry

Culture Matters and Centrala Space, Birmingham are delighted to invite you to a full live reading of Al Hutchins' brilliantly bonkers poetry collection, Rebel Admin. With supporting shenanigans from Richard Arkwright, Duncan Jones, Alisha Kadir, Bobby Parker, Victoria Nimmo and others TBC. The launch takes place on the 9th February 2024 from 6:30 to 9:00 PM GMT at Centrala Space, Unit 4 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5RT.

The event will be hosted jointly by Centrala Space and Culture Matters; it will feature a no-holds barred  reading of the full text by Al Hutchins and feature short support readings from local Culture Matters contributors past, present and future. Commissioning Editor Fran Lock will be master of ceremonies. And if you ask her nicely, she might bring cake!

The event is free to enter, but donations will be taken on the door for MAP, a charity providing medical aid to those affected by the on-going genocide in Palestine. The book will be available for purchase after the reading.

Rebel Admin is  a collection of visually intense, and syntactically jagged poems that create a sort of fragmentary cinema, one that works to signal the irrational absurdity of neoliberal culture, but also to disrupt its plausibly smooth and continuously scrolling script. Humour - of a uniquely warped and whacked-out variety - is the throughline of text, the constant current in its wild carnival of disorder. Against the numbing spectacle and sinister machinery of capitalism, Hutchins erects a savvy lyric vision that is part Mark E. Smith, part William Blake.

Al Hutchins has been described by Stewart Lee as a “howling faggot-and-pea-fuelled visionary”, which sounds about right to us. Al is a West Midlands-based poet, performing “stuff” since 1997: his rhythm, holler and tune-mongering thing, The Courtesy Group has been lauded by the likes of John Peel, Stuart Maconie and John Cooper Clarke. His poetry and fiction have been published by New River Press, Eccentric City, Tindal Street Press and proudly by Culture Matters!

Performer bios and further information will be added to our event pages, so do watch this space for news and this space for tickets.

Rebel Admin

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