Our Publications (12)

We regularly publish booklets, as ebooks and as hard copy. You can download/order your copies here.

The Things Our Hands Once Stood For
Thursday, 08 March 2018 16:40

The Things Our Hands Once Stood For

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The Things Our Hands Once Stood For - by Martin Hayes

£6 (plus £1.50 p&p). ISBN 978-1-907464-32-4.

Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published an oustanding new collection of poetry by Martin Hayes.

Martin Hayes is the only British poet who writes consistently and seriously about work, and about the insanity of a society where employees are seen as mere ‘hands’ whose sole role is to make money for the employer.

Alan Dent, a publisher and poet himself, who writes an illuminating introduction, says, “Hayes speaks for those whose lives are supposed to be not worth speaking about. He is intent on revealing the significance of the lives of ordinary people in the workplace. When current employment relations are consigned to the dustbin of history, and are viewed as we now view the feudal relations between lord and vassal, will people wonder why so little was written about it?"

Martin’s poems are direct and simple, and full of black humour. Like the grainy black and white images that illustrate them so well, they expose and express the simple, terrible truth – that the human relation on which our society is based, that between employer and employee, is morally indefensible. The clear message of his poetry is that those who do the work should own, control, and benefit fully from it. They should, in the last words of the last poem, ‘start the revolution that will change everything’, and show that ‘all of our fingertips combined/might just be the fingertips/ that keep us and this Universe/ stitched together’.


Listen to the Revolution: free ebook on 1917, art and culture
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 10:22

Listen to the Revolution: free ebook on 1917, art and culture

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‘With all your body, all your heart and all your mind, listen to the Revolution.’ said the poet Alexander Blok in 1918.

As the centenary year of the Russian Revolution ends and we move into 2018, we have published Listen to the Revolution - The Impact of the Russian Revolution on Art and Culture.

It is widely recognised that the Revolution stimulated a creative and imaginative explosion across all the arts and cultural activities, not only in Russia itself but across the world. It reverberated throughout the twentieth century, and echoes of this cultural revolution still resonate today. The booklet brings together the series of articles published on the Culture Matters web platform in the course of 2017, to mark the impact of the Revolution on art and culture.

We hope you enjoy reading the articles, which look at the momentous, worldwide influence of the Revolution on cinema, theatre, art, sport, science and other topics. And we hope you are inspired to join the modern-day struggle for cultural policies and cultural activities which aim to revolutionise elitist, expensive and inaccessible art and culture and replace it with art and culture which everyone can enjoy - culture for the many, not the few.

Listen to the Revolution – culture matters!

Listen to the Revolution - The Impact of the Russian Revolution on Art and Culture is a free ebook, available from here. If you would like to place a bulk order for a print version of the ebook please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

'It is communists who think like Christians': free ebooks on Marxism and religion
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Monday, 19 February 2018 22:26

'It is communists who think like Christians': free ebooks on Marxism and religion

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Culture Matters has embarked on a bold new series of essays by the theologian and writer Professor Roland Boer, on Marxism and religion. They will explore the potential for religion to offer both reactionary and revolutionary political meanings, in all their complexity. Our aim with the topic of religious and spiritual life is the same as our aim across the arts and all other cultural activities - to unearth and mobilise the radical meanings in religious thought, teaching and practice. The essays will be published separately in instalments, and when completed they will be published as an ebook.

At Culture Matters, we believe the intersection of religion and progressive politics is a field which merits serious study, especially given the history of the English radical tradition and of Christian Socialism. It is also very topical as the intellectual bankruptcy of neoliberalism becomes increasingly obvious to people, reactionary politicians continue to hide behind a socially conservative interpretation of religion, and as recognition of the need for wide-reaching and progressive change in Britain grows.

Organised religion repels a lot of people these days, because of the perception that it is elitist, dogmatic and socially exclusive. But there is a radical strand in the modern Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths, based on helping the poor, promotion of the common good, respecting the dignity of labour, and practising solidarity with the socially excluded. This radical strand includes political campaigning against the structural causes of poverty and inequality in the name of social justice, as well as encouraging individual acts of charity.

To take a few examples, all of the main Christian groups - Anglicans, Methodists, Catholics, United Reformed Church, Baptists, Quakers, Church of Scotland - are supporters of Real Living Wage campaigns, which aim to improve the situation of workers in low-paid, precarious employment. Churches of a variety of denominations have come together to help the victims of recent tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower fire and the Manchester Arena bombing. And consider also the critical statements made by Pope Francis about capitalism such as, 'We cannot wait any longer to deal with the structural causes of poverty, in order to heal our society from an illness that can only lead to new crises.' The pope has repeatedly cited the pitfalls of capitalism, decrying global income inequality and equating low-wage labor to a form of slavery. He has even said, in that bitterly ironic tone characteristic of Jesus' voice in the Gospels: 'It is the communists who think like Christians'.

Combining a progressive political strand with a radical application of religion could make a useful contribution to the national conversation about the direction of a future Labour Government. It also could empower people to reclaim their spiritual and moral heritage, and help inspire, motivate and underpin local campaigning activity. Just like art, religion can be a tool of oppression, a means of legitimating unfair distributions of power and wealth – but it can also be a powerful tool for the radical liberation of humanity. 

We hope these essays stimulate critical discussion, and would welcome critical and creative responses to the issues they raise. We invite people to share the booklet via their networks, join us in the debate and contribute ideas about to how advance this agenda. They are being published and distributed widely by Culture Matters as part of our mission to promote a progressive approach to all cultural activities. We hope you find them enjoyable, educational and enlightening. 

In the first essay, Professor Boer discusses Marx's description of religion as 'the opium of the people'. He says:

Marx’s most well-known observation concerning religion is that it is ‘the opium of the people’. The meaning would seem to be clear: opium is a drug that dulls the senses and helps one forget the miseries of the present. So also with religion. The catch is that Marx’s use of ‘opium’ is not so straightforward, for it actually opens the door to what may be called a political ambivalence at the heart of religion.

Go to Religion: the opium of the people? for the first essay.

In the second essay, Professor Boer analyses the various relationships between religion and capitalism, especially Marx's use of the term 'fetish'. he says:

Marx was then able to distil the idea to locate the central fetishistic function of capitalism: money produces money, capital produces profit or interest in and of itself. Only a complex theory of fetishism can explain why ‘capital thus becomes a very mystic being’, especially ‘since all of labour’s social productive forces appear to be due to capital, rather than labour as such, and seem to issue from the womb of capital itself. In this sense can we say that capital becomes the ‘religion of everyday life’.

Go to Religion and capitalism for the second essay.

If you would like to place a bulk order for a (priced) printed version of the complete set when it is published later in the year, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The Mouse and the Milk
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Tuesday, 05 December 2017 10:51

The Mouse and the Milk

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The Mouse and the Milk – by Mike Quille, with illustrations by John Gordon

£8.00 (plus £1.50 p&p). ISBN978-1-907464-29-4

Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new version of a classic folk-tale from Sardinia, The Mouse and the Milk.

The story was written down in 1931 by Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist philosopher and political activist, in a letter to his children. The letter was smuggled out of one of Mussolini’s prisons, where Gramsci had been imprisoned ‘to stop his brain from functioning’. (In fact, as we know, his brain functioned all the more powerfully!) The story was later re-told by John Berger.

Mike Quille said, “Folk-tales are, by their very nature, metaphorical. They can be re-shaped for a contemporary audience and show the children of today how we can we make the world a better place by working collectively and respecting the environment.

“The Mouse and the Milk is a simple but very profound story. In just a few pages it expresses how practising natural human generosity and caring for the world around us leads not only to material abundance but a kinder, more just and peaceful society. At a time of growing child poverty and threats to the environment, this message could not be more relevant.”


On Fighting On - An Anthology of Poems from the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2017
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Tuesday, 07 November 2017 11:09

On Fighting On - An Anthology of Poems from the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2017

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On Fighting On - An Anthology of Poems from the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2017

£5 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN 978-1-907464-24-9.

Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new anthology of poems from the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2017, sponsored by Unite.

The purpose of the new Award is to encourage poets to focus on themes which are meaningful to workin g class people and communities and to encourage those communities to engage more with poetry. Entrants were given the opportunity to deal broadly with any aspect of working class life and culture and show commitment to the common people, the common good and the common music of poetry.

Mike Quille, the Editor of the anthology, said, “We wanted to encourage Unite members and working people more widely to engage with poetry and the arts generally. And encourage the mainstream poetry world to lift its eyes beyond the narrow poetry ‘bubble’ and be more attentive to the labour movement. The poems in this collection reflect a broad range of themes and moods. They show very clearly the collective strength of writing by working people.”

The Award was kindly supported by Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union. Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, said, “We sponsored the first Bread and Roses Poetry Award because we believe that our members, and working people generally, have an equal right to join in and enjoy all the arts, and other cultural activities. We believe we should be able to afford them, get to them, and enjoy them, and that art should seek to engage with all sections of the community. Working-class people face a continual cultural struggle to defend our cultural commons, to keep cultural activities open to the many, not the few.”

The booklet is priced at £5 (plus £1.50 p&p), and is available from manifestopress.org.uk, culturematters.org.uk and the usual outlets. ISBN 978-1-907464-24-9.


Muses and Bruises
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Monday, 06 November 2017 16:10

Muses and Bruises

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Muses and Bruises - Poems by Fran Lock, Collages by Steev Burgess

 £8 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN9781907464256.

Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new collection of poetry by Fran Lock. The poems are accompanied by collages by Steev Burgess.

Fran lock is an activist, writer and illustrator, and one of the finest political poets around. Like John Clare, Lock evokes the troubling, often agonising effects of capitalist society on personal and social identity. Her feminist and socialist poetry weaves psychological insight and social awareness into themes of poverty, mental health problems, sexual abuse, domestic violence and political struggle. Vivid, lavish and punchy, it combines a deep sense of anger and injustice with vulnerable empathy and compassion.

The poems in this collection revel in richness and in strangeness. They are about the unlikely places where working class women find beauty and meaning, and the unlikely materials from which they are composed. The fragmented yet coherent collages of Steev Burgess complement and enhance those meanings perfectly. The images dance with the poems, singing together about muses and bruises, fantasy and reality – grind and grime with a lick of glitter.


Mike Jenkins
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 17:24

Bring the Rising Home!

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Bring the Rising Home! Poems by Mike Jenkins, with paintings by Gustavius Payne

£9 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN 978-1-907464-22-5.

Culture Matters has published a new collection of poetry by the Welsh socialist poet Mike Jenkins. The poems are accompanied by full colour paintings by Gustavius Payne.

In May 1831, miners and others took to the streets of Merthyr Tydfil, protesting against wage cuts and unemployment generally. The protest spread and soon the whole area was in rebellion – the red flag was flown as a symbol of workers' revolt for the first time. The social and economic conditions which sparked the Merthyr Rising are never far from Mike Jenkins’s poetic imagination, but there are also poems here about drunks, jailbirds, footballers, a mining disaster, and Northern Ireland.

Weaving through both poems and images are themes of individual isolation and alienation, and the urgent need for collective action to change the conditions of working people. Mike Jenkins’s vivid, lyrical poems are accompanied by full colour paintings by the Welsh socialist painter Gustavius Payne, whose bold, striking, and deeply sympathetic paintings complement the poems perfectly.

The message is clear: isolated, people are powerless, but together they are strong. They need to organise into trade unions, join a socialist party and challenge the ruling class. Here is a poetic and painterly union of two socialist Welsh artists who, in their own brilliant, artistic way, are bringing the Rising home.


Thursday, 17 August 2017 06:27

Lugalbanda: Lover of the seed

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Lugalbanda: Lover of the seed

£4.99 (plus £1.00 p&p) ISBN978-1-907464-23-2 

A new version by Doug Nicholls, this book is a fundraiser for the Free Ocalan campaign. It brings to the attention of modern readers a poem written 5,000 years ago but still with incredible relevance to us today.

The imprisoned political leader Abdullah Ocalan draws attention to the first Sumerian civilisation built between the Tigris and Euphrates, in the troubled lands today covered by Iraq and Syria. This civilisation was forgotten for over 2,000 years, buried under sands, but when it was rediscovered it was realised that the Sumerians had brought to humanity agriculture, architecture, the first writing, the first schools, the first written poetry, the first laws and many other notable inventions.

This delightful and surprising story of the exploits of Lugalbanda and what powers he chooses as a reward for looking after the chick of a monstrous bird in the mountains is a joy to read, so distant yet so near. It also compels us to think about some profound truths in our own world.

A fantastic read for young and old and whether you have read poetry before or not. The author’s notes on the poem will surprise and challenge you as they extract layers of meaning from the poem.


The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed
Thursday, 22 December 2016 13:58

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed

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Poems by Kevin Higgins

£5.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) 48 pp ISBN 978 19074641889

The Minister for Poetry Has Decreed is political poetry of the highest order, telling truth to power and poking fun at it at the same time, artistically deploying a profoundly moral sense of justice and truth to expose lies, evasions, greed and sheer stupidity.
Kevin Higgins, like Bertolt Brecht, has a gift for exposing the hypocrisies and deceits which are inevitably generated by a political culture which ignores, denies or seeks to legitimise the legalised robbery that passes for capitalist economic arrangements. And like Brecht he does it in a wickedly simple, accessible, entertaining style.

“Ireland’s accomplished political poet and satirist”,
- Diarmaid Ferriter, The Irish Times

“I read this twice. Now, will make a coffee and read it again.”
- Gene Kerrigan, The Sunday Independent

“Likely the mostly widely read living poet in Ireland”,
- The Stinging Fly magazine.


The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand
Thursday, 22 December 2016 13:52

The Earth and the Stars in the Palm of Our Hand

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Poems by Fred Voss

£5.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) 48 pp ISBN 978 1907 464102


I want to change the world, I want to strike the spark or kick the pebble that will start the fire or the avalanche that will change the world a little.

- Fred Voss

Everyone can see the growing inequality, the precarious and low paid nature of employment, the housing crisis in our cities, the divisions and inequalities between social classes, the problems of obesity, drink and drugs, and the sheer everyday struggle to pay the bills for many working people. In this situation, Fred Voss is like a prophet. He is warning us of the consequences of the way we live, he is telling truth to power, and he is inspiring us with a positive vision of a possible – and desirable – socialist future.

- Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the Union