Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Two Good-Looking Events in the London Word Festival

by Chris McCabe
with Bleeding Heart Narrative and Jack Wake-Walker
Introduced by Iain Sinclair

The history of the Docklands is that of a city building upwards, from the monstrous bunkers of the docks themselves to the glass pillars at Canary Wharf. Whenever the means of profit-making have changed, Docklands has always been prescient and protean in its survival instincts. The success, and failure, of the current financial centre echo the creation of the original docks: control of local communities for global trading, the hegemony of private investors and monolithic architectural statements of presence.

Set in a pub that has stood on the site since the sixteenth century, Shad Thames, Broken Wharf eavesdrops on a conversation between three characters – Echo, a middle-aged woman who has lived her life in the area; Blaise, a northerner who finds resonances with the more familiar docks at Liverpool; and the gregarious landlord, a Londoner with ‘the knowledge’. Breaking into the dialogue, The Restructure is a sinister, all-knowing Public Service Announcement with ‘advice’ to share with anyone who’ll listen…

Shad Thames, Broken Wharf is a newly commissioned work by acclaimed poet Chris McCabe that spans centuries of changes across the Docklands, allowing past ghosts to be heard above the white noise of the polemical present. With accompanying tipsy folk melodies from Bleeding Heart Narrative’s Bartokian piano, strings, synths and sample set, and film from Jack Wake-Walker, Shad Thames, Broken Wharf resonates with what the Docklands might mean. Cult London author, poet and filmmaker Iain Sinclair introduces the performance with a special reading.

Performed by Tracey Wilkinson, Luke McEwen, Chris McCabe and Paul Henderson.

A London Word Festival Commission


Jamboree ⋅ £8 adv / £10 door ⋅ 8pm
Cable Street Studios | 566 Cable Street | Limehouse| E1W 3HB

+ Peter Finch + MacGillivray + Hannah Silva

“Brag, sweet tenor bull…”

Intrepidly inventive folk, jazz and electronic musical inventor Leafcutter John decodes epic Modernist poem Briggflatts for the digital century in a brand new commission.

Briggflatts Rewired takes Basil Bunting’s extraordinary and intensely musical poem as the starting point for a new, electronically-enhanced composition. In an event that explores the interplay between sound, voice and textuality, Leafcutter John is joined by acclaimed Welsh poet and performer Peter Finch, haunting Highland musician MacGillivray and startlingly effervescent wordsmith Hannah Silva.

Born in 1900, Basil Bunting was imprisoned as a conscientious objector, lived in Persia as a British spy in the 40s and later worked as a journalist in his native North East. Briggflatts, a poetic autobiography which celebrates the culture and language of Northumbria, was published in 1966 and belatedly announced Bunting as one of the great Modernist poets alongside T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

A member of Mercury-nominated avant-jazz collective Polar Bear, Leafcutter John is a multi-talented musician, songwriter, remixer and artist whose work marries the best cadences of folk with the expressive utility of samples, mixing and field recordings. He has released four albums, the latest of which is The Forest and the Sea (Staubgold Records), and builds many of his own electronic instruments from scratch.

Peter Finch is a Welsh writer and critic who is famed for his declamatory poetry performances. An expert on the arcane and obscure corners of twentieth-century poetry, dada and the history of the small press, in the 60s and 70s he toured with sound poet Bob Cobbing. More recently he is known for psychogeographic investigations of Cardiff. He has published more than twenty-five books of poetry.

MacGillivray sings haunting tales from the frontier, of wolves and hunters, love lost in the wilderness. A favourite on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and The Verb, her album Wolf is inspired by the strange lurch of Gaelic ‘lining out’, drawing on words by Robert Burns and Hugh MacDiarmid. MacGillivray has supported The Fall and performed alongside the writers Iain Sinclair, Brian Catling and Alan Moore.

Hannah Silva is a writer and performer whose distinctive style combines the physicality of theatre with energetic, fast-paced poetry. Her recent works include You Said/I Said with percussionist Alexis Kirke; Panopticon, a darkly humourous investigation of language, belonging and Britishness; and Boat on the Water, a poetry/dance/theatre performance set on a yacht in Plymouth.

Briggflatts Rewired is a London Word Festival Commission and is presented with the kind permission of The Basil Bunting Estate, Bloodaxe Books and Stream Records

Stoke Newington International Airport ⋅ £6.50 adv / £8.50 door ⋅ 7pm
Stoke Newington International Airport
Unit F | 1-15 Leswin Place | Stoke Newington | N16 7NJ

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Fresh Pistol Tree Poems. and Pistol Tree Poems Refreshed

The latest batch of the Pistol Tree Poems epistolary exchange between Peter Hughes and Simon Marsh are now online, numbers 82-85.

Note that the sequence is one of the range of pages I have been recoding from HTML to XHTML, which should make them more accessible to mobile phones and PDAs (and correcting a lot of earlier clumsinesses in coding). I would be very interested in any feedback from anyone who ever accesses the site from such devices rather than a PC or laptop.

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