Culture Matters

Culture Matters

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

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.

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