Poetry on the Picket Line is an anthology of poetry by a group of activist poets. It sounds a bit unlikely, but it works. It’s a squad of writers prepared to turn up on picket lines and read poetry. Something a bit different, and it usually goes down pretty well.
The poets do what it says on the tin. They turn up at pickets and demos and read poems—with a mic, without a mic, through a bullhorn, whatever. Pickets are generally pretty pleased and surprised to see them. They appreciate the support, and some of them even appreciate the poetry!
Plus, it’s unusual. So pictures get taken and videos get made and shared on FB, Twitter and other social media. That helps raise the profile of the dispute. And it helps to raise the profile of the poets too. Then, when they do gigs the poets talk about the work, pass the hat round, sell T-shirts and badges, with the money going back into the various strike funds. It’s all about the solidarity, and it works. It matters because it brings poetry onto picket lines and picket lines into poetry. Real people connecting with real poetry in the real world. That’s got to be a good thing!
It is not merely the job of art to hold a mirror up to society from a distance, the best of it needs to engage with hearts and minds on the ground. Poetry on the Picket Line is a perfect manifestation of this.
- Phill Jupitus
Poetry with principles. Poetry with a point. Poetry on the picket line. That’s where it should be.
- Billy Bragg
The anthology is sponsored by PCS, RMT and the TUC London, East and South East Region. All proceeds of sale will go towards strike funds.