Culture Matters

Culture Matters

Monday, 04 December 2023 10:32

Shellshocked Lives

Published in Films

Shellshocked Lives

by Viktoria Simanovski

These days I see an unjust world fragmented into fractions, thrusting children into battles and wars that are not of their making. In my film I try to express my hope for justice and understanding between people and between nations. We all start our journey as humans, but somewhere along the way we get tangled up in the web of nationalities, religions etc. It pains me to witness the transformation of children, who may once have been playmates, into pawns that are drawn into wars they never wished for. I really want people to allow themselves to see the difference between their own feelings and what is imposed from the outside.

Viktoria Simanovski is a member of a group called Just Building Bridges. It includes sanctuary seekers, refugees and asylum seekers in north-east England that has produced a series of photographs and short films on the theme of justice. The group itself is very diverse, from several different countries and continents. All of them are trying to ‘build bridges’ from a relatively marginalised position, and resettle peacefully and successfully in various local communities.

The photographs, films and zines made by the group cover a wide range of themes. There are local issues of waste, litter, and noise; bigger economic issues such as the fast fashion industry; and some very topical issues of global significance, such as the conflicts in the Ukraine and the Middle East.

The project was facilitated by Theresa Easton, lecturer in Fine Art at Newcastle University; Carl Joyce, photographer and filmmaker; and Michael Quille, writer and editor of Culture Matters. Thanks are due to Newcastle University and the Hatton Gallery Learning Space for the use of premises and equipment, and the Passionist Community for their financial support.

The exhibition materials are a fine body of authentic, heartfelt work. There are around 28 A4 photographs in A3 frames; 2 short films for playing on a loop; and a series of accompanying zines. If you are interested in displaying the exhibition, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yer Ower Voices
Wednesday, 08 November 2023 16:20

Yer Ower Voices

Published in Books

Yer Ower Voices! is an anthology of dialect poetry in Welsh and English. The book is divided by geographical regional dialects: Swansea, The Valleys, Cardiff/ Newport, and North & West Wales. It is  the first anthology of its kind ever published. 

 The poets in Yer Ower Voices! show how dialect poetry may at one level be parochial but at its best how it can be universally relevant as well. Dialect poetry is also particularly capable of forcefully giving voice to whole communities in Wales who may have been represented in fiction and films to some extent, but have been largely invisible in the landscape of poetry.

This highly original anthology is unique in its presentation of the variety of dialect poetry written in Wales today. Unique, too, in the space it gives to poems written in dialects of Welsh. Yer Ower Voices! shows clearly how dialect writing can be relevant both locally and universally. Dialect poetry is particularly capable of forcefully expressing the experiences of social groups such as the working class, who have been traditionally under-represented as readers and writers of poetry. We hope that the book acts as a stimulus and increases both the reading and the writing of poetry in Wales.

Yer Ower Voices! Dialect poems in Welsh and English from Cymru, edited by Mike Jenkins, 148pps., £12, is available here.

Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2023 - the winners!
Thursday, 26 October 2023 12:23

Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2023 - the winners!

Published in Poetry

The five winners of this year's Award are: Michael Lowkain, Jenny Mitchell, Ian Parks, Ross Walsh and Rob Walton. £100 will wing its wandering way to their worthy workers' wallets, and we'll produce the printed anthology by the end of November.

That will include the winning poems plus poems by Abigail Ottley, Cara L McKee, Steven Taylor, Peter Raynard, Lois Hambleton, Gwyneth Wilson, John F Keane, Mary Black, Ruth Aylett, Declan Geraghty, Julie Easley, Alan Weadick, Sarah Leavesley,  Angela Topping, Laura Taylor, Bavid Bleiman, John Morris, Owen Gallagher, Paul Francis, John Freeman, Laura Strickland, Joe Williams, Martin Hayes, Alan Morrison, Peadar O'Donoghue, and Moira Garland.

We'll send copies to everyone included in the anthology, and it'll be on sale in our Books section. Thanks to all who entered this year, for the sixth (and probably last) Bread and Roses Poetry Award.

Holberrys
Friday, 29 September 2023 11:36

Holberrys

Published in Theatre

Holberrys is a play about two Sheffield Chartists, Samuel and Mary Holberry, who helped organise the betrayed ‘physical force’ insurrection in the city in January 1840.

Samuel, a distillery worker, former agricultural worker and ex-soldier who had served in Ireland in the suppression of the Ribbonmen rebellion in 1833, and his wife Mary, were at the centre of militant campaigning and planning the rebellion. Their plans were divulged, with Samuel sentenced to four years imprisonment in prisons in Northallerton and York, where he died of consumption in 1842 at the age of 27. A hero of his time to working people, over 50,000 people attended his funeral procession in Sheffield.

The Holberrys’ story is illustrated using moving photographs taken by Ron McCormick during a schoolchildren’s re-enactment of the Chartist rising in Newport, South Wales in November 1839.

Holberrys dramatises the lives of Samuel and Mary and their years in Sheffield, ever a city of resistance and struggle. Its author, Chris Searle, is a teacher and it is a play for both the stage and the classroom, telling of an important episode in British history which is rarely remembered. It is free to download as a pdf, below.

England and Son
Wednesday, 19 July 2023 15:49

England and Son

Published in Theatre

England and Son is a one-man play written specifically for the political comedian Mark Thomas by award-winning playwright Ed Edwards (The Political History of Smack and Crack). It's a heartbreaking but funny horror story in which all the horrors are real.

Prepare for Mark to take you on a epic odyssey where disaster capitalism, Thatcherite politics and the end of Empire merge in the simple tale of a working-class boy who just wants his dad to smile at him and ruffle his hair.

This is the first play Mark has ever performed in that he has not written himself, and the play was in the top nine shows in the Sunday Times “must-see” list for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

England and Son is on at Paine’s Plough Roundabout, Edinburgh 4th – 28th August.

There will be a sixty date tour after Endinburgh. To find a date near you visit Mark’s website here.

Dungheap Cockerel
Wednesday, 05 July 2023 07:19

Dungheap Cockerel

Published in Books

The mission of Culture Matters is to promote cultural democracy. This means providing articles and works of art for people whose views and voices go largely ignored by the ruling classes of late capitalist Britain. We aim to be a platform where the oppressed and exploited can develop and express their own intellectual and artistic output.

In the summer of 2023 no minority was more brusquely and effectively suppressed than republicans. Our new anthology, Dungheap Cockerel, has been created in a few weeks to counter that injustice with satires on monarchy in general and its latest incumbent in particular. It is available as a free downloadable pdf in the Poetry section, and we have also printed a few books, which are available at £9 each plus £2 p. and p. using the button below.

Dungheap Cockerel
Tuesday, 04 July 2023 08:32

Dungheap Cockerel

Published in Poetry

The mission of Culture Matters is to promote cultural democracy. This means providing articles and works of art for people whose views and voices go largely ignored by the ruling classes of late capitalist Britain. We aim to be a platform where the oppressed and exploited can develop and express their own intellectual and artistic output.

In the summer of 2023 no minority was more brusquely and effectively suppressed than republicans. Our new anthology, Dungheap Cockerel, has been created in a few weeks to counter that injustice with satires on monarchy in general and its latest incumbent in particular. 

We are grateful for the massive response to our callout for poems, which has now been edited by Rip Bulkeley, illustrated by Martin Gollan and Mike Dicks, and made into a free downloadable pdf (attached below) by Alan Morrison. Because of the quality of the poems and illustrations we have also decided to hang the expense - or do I mean guillotine the expense? - and print a small batch of books, which are available at £9 each plus £2 p. and p. using the button above.

Machine Language
Friday, 26 May 2023 12:29

Machine Language

Published in Books
Machine / Language
 
Martin Hayes has long been one of the most prolific and original poets of labour writing in this country. In Machine / Language he further details our descent into enmeshment with the apparatus of our oppression: an oppression that functions legally through the economic exercise of state power, and intellectually, through the operation of language. Within neoliberal society personal identity becomes fused at the bone to our economic output; we are swallowed whole by our designation as workers and compelled to identify with a system that slowly destroys us. In this regard Machine / Language can be read in a number of ways: as a document of struggle, an aesthetic meditation, an act of solidarity, and a mode of resistance. 

One of the preserve ironies of capitalism is that while society itself is often figured as a living and frequently besieged organism, individual human bodies are more and more frequently treated as blunt instruments or faceless economic units. This bitter paradox underscores Machine / Language.

Martin Rowson's nervy illustrations capture this contradiction, bringing us agonised grotesques.

A very necessary, powerful voice in this era of austerity, inequality and exploitation. 

—Fred Voss

Machine / Language by Martin Hayes with illustrations by Martin Rowson, ISBN 978-1-912710-59-1, £7 plus £3 p.and p.

Wolves Come Grovelling
Sunday, 07 May 2023 13:13

Wolves Come Grovelling

Published in Books

Thirty poems in various forms and styles—rhyme, blank verse, free verse, villanelle, and ‘villanelle-vague’—tackle the seismic events and vicissitudes of recent years: Brexit, Grenfell and the “hostile environment”, the proroguing of Parliament, Boris Johnson’s shambolic premiership, Covid and the lockdowns, “Partygate”, Trump’s insurrection, the resistible rise of Keir Starmer, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Platinum Jubilee, the JUST STOP OIL protests, the death of Elizabeth Windsor and the suppression of republican expression during the mourning period, and the Coronation.

Wolves Come Grovelling primarily challenges the paradoxes of British citizenship and subjecthood, democracy and monarchy, which have never been resolved, not even during the Republic of the 1650s—a period in our history which tends to be airbrushed out in spite of Hamo Thornycroft’s imposing bronze statue of Oliver Cromwell serving as permanent reminder outside Parliament since 1897.

But for all the pomp and majesty of the Coronation there is still the whispering hope of republicanism among sections of the British populace which may yet ripen and come to cast a significant shadow on this Second Carolean Age.
 
Morrison writes in a rich, Miltonic voice, heavy with anger and prophecy.
                                                                                                 — Andy Croft

Wolves Come Grovelling, by Alan Morrison, 60 pps, ISBN 978-1-912710-57-7, available for £10 incl. p&p.

Zoom launch of Machine / Language by Martin Hayes, with Fred Voss
Wednesday, 19 April 2023 10:28

Zoom launch of Machine / Language by Martin Hayes, with Fred Voss

Published in Poetry
Culture Matters is proud to introduce the third long-anticipated collection in their new series of digital poetry pamphlets: Machine / Language by Martin Hayes. The book is available free to download (below) and is also available from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as a print-on-demand hard copy.
 
We celebrated with a virtual reading at 7pm on Saturday 22nd April, with special guest support from our comrade across the pond, Mr Fred Voss, whose latest book is Someday There Will Be Machine Shops Full of Roses, available here and reviewed here. There was also  a short author Q&A. Here's the video.........

Machine / Language is, amongst other things a chronicle of our descent into enmeshment with the very apparatus of our oppression: an oppression that functions legally through the economic exercise of state power, and intellectually, through the operation of language. These poems can be read in a number of ways: as documents of struggle, as aesthetic meditations, as an act of solidarity, and a mode of resistance. Machine/ Language owes much to Chinese worker poetry from across the last two decades, both in terms of their thematic freight and in its treatment. One of the ironies of capitalism is that while society itself is often figured as a living and frequently besieged organism, individual human bodies are more and more often treated as blunt instruments or faceless economic units.
 
This bitter paradox underscores Machine / Language. Martin Rowson’s nervy illustrations capture this contradiction, bringing us agonised grotesques: machine-men or man-machines, no longer the subjects of coercive capitalist control, but the willing apparatus through which this control perpetuates itself. The figures in Rowson’s drawings are both tragic and horrifying because their assimilation is not complete; their transformation forever imperfect: they retain enough self-knowledge to suffer. That’s their curse - but also our hope.
 
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