Invites and mailing list

If you don’t already receive invites from me and/or my publishers and producers to my book and project launches, special gigs and events, but you would like to, then please consider signing up to my mailing list. It doesn’t cost a thing.

There are some exciting projects and titles coming up through 2016, so now might be a good time ;)

Tony White reading at Beaconsfield, London. Photo © Marianne Magnin, 2015

Tony White reading at Beaconsfield, London. Photo © Marianne Magnin, 2015

Hope to see you soon.


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House Watched

PWD_1453062771_crop_550x844I recently interviewed the poet Paul Hawkins for The Quietus about Place Waste Dissent, his new book for Influx Press. Place Waste Dissent is a fascinating and visually striking new book of poetry collage documenting the squat culture and M11 protests of the early 1990s that centred on Claremont Road in Leytonstone, East London. I knew several people who lived on Claremont Road. One such resident was the pioneering UK video artist and filmmaker Ian Bourn, who I knew through his friend and one-time collaborator the late Helen Chadwick who was a friend and neighbour of mine in Beck Road—another community of artists living in ‘Acme houses’, as they were known—where I lived at the time.

I loved Hawkins’ book. The lo-fi, analogue, cut and paste of word and image is richly redolent of that early ’90s squat and crusty culture. As I mention in the article, this was a scene that I also quickly turned around in my own fiction, writing a deliberately loose and libidinised version of the M11 protests in what became my debut novel, the ‘avant-pulp’ Road Rage! which was published in 1997. Paul Hawkins has taken rather longer in reporting from Claremont Road, but in doing so he has perhaps been truer to the troubled textures of the time, and both more generous and more critical than I had cared to be with my own more immediate fictional responses.

RoadRage_highresThe interview is now up. Here’s a taster:

TW: Among the extensive and very evocative contemporary documents and ephemera that you’ve used in PLACE WASTE DISSENT … is a very interesting photocopied who’s who, an updated list of occupants and state of repair of all the Claremont Road houses: ‘15: Mick, squatted … 32: Dolly’, etc. Some of the houses had evidently gone through this cycle of destruction several times. Number 16, for example, reads: ‘TRASHED SQUATTED TRASHED SQUATTED’. It’s only a matter of time, you get the feeling, before that would have been crossed out again. A lot of these papers are from your own collection. How on earth did you keep hold of all this stuff?

HW Wounded nat 4wPH: Whenever anybody got served legal papers, eviction papers, they would be photocopied and circulated. There was a solicitor involved who had people looking at these materials, and everyone passed the papers around. I started keeping a folder, a big ring-binder with all these plastic sleeves full of magazine articles, notes, posters from benefit gigs, letters, everything. It seems bizarre because at that time in my life things were getting a bit messy around the edges, but somehow whatever else happened I managed to keep it all safe.

Years later, when I was putting the book together, I was also able to refer to a huge archive of No M11 Campaign materials held at the Museum of London which included local, national and international newspaper coverage. A curator there called Beverley Cook was very helpful. I made an appointment to view this, taking copious notes. There were all these ’zines and magazines, a local broadsheet called The East Ender. Around the late ’80s and early ’90s there were a lot of crusty, traveller, eco-campaigners. There were squat bands, anarchist bands. This was the tail-end of the rave scene and the beginning of things like Reclaim the Streets.

Hw CinePed 85poster NB 4wTW: This really was a kind of front line at the time.

PH: Yes, and with other protest groups, other proposed motorways, at Newbury, the Dongas at Twyford Down, the M77 and Pollok Free State and the Anti-Criminal Justice Bill protests.These and other groups were not cohesive but there were means of contact, which grew in strength. The increasing media awareness both helped and hindered. [READ MORE …]

I was pleased to see my old friend the artist Ian Bourn making an appearance in Place Waste Dissent, too. At one point, Hawkins reports standing out in the cold one night to see HOUSEWATCH, a cinematic public art spectacular projected onto the windows of number 8 Claremont Road, from the inside:

‘we blink / stars around the sky / as window cine-film / loops the world … breath steaming to frost.’

This idea of projecting onto windows from the inside, for the benefit of passing pedestrians, has been taken up by new generations of artists and curators. A couple of years ago, for example, Peer and Animate Projects commissioned four animators to make works for Peer’s windows on Hoxton Street for the Out of Site project. (You can download a PDF pamphlet edition of my short story ‘Animate Me’—which was commissioned as part of Out of Site—here.) And I recently bumped into Ian Bourn and others on Essex Road in Islington, North London, where a crowd had gathered for a programme of film screenings called Essex Road II that also perhaps owed much to Housewatch. These screenings had been put on by the gallery Tintype, who had commissioned eight artists—Jordan Baseman, Helen Benigson, Sebastian Buerkner, Jem Cohen, Ruth Maclennan, Melanie Manchot, Uriel Orlow, John Smith—to make ‘short films in response to the mile-long road. The gallery’s large window becomes a public screen for six weeks over Christmas and New Year.’

Essex Road II - opening event 1, 2015. Photo: Tintype

Essex Road II – opening event 1, 2015. Photo: Tintype

Among the artists projecting new film works onto Tintype’s windows in December 2015 was John Smith, another Claremont Road veteran. On the Place Waste Dissent website, Paul Hawkins links to Smith’s film Blight, which was made in collaboration with composer Jocelyn Pook for a short-lived BBC2 commissioning strand called Sound on Film in 1997. Blight is an apt title, and like Hawkins’ book, Smith and Pook’s collaboration is another evocative document of the Claremont Road demolitions.


‘Pretty Messy, Fairly Trashed’, Paul Hawkins interviewed, The Quietus, 17 January 2016.

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Panel Beating #8—Reading and Being Read

20_feb_publishers_pressFollowing on from 2015’s The Contemporary Small Press: A Symposium at the University of Westminster, I am pleased to have been invited to speak at the British Library on 20 February at an event (also organised by Leigh Wilson and Georgina Colby of The Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture at the University of Westminster) that is described as a ‘symposium and workshop for hungry minds and creative readers, bringing together writers, readers and publishers from independent presses in the UK.’

Michael Moorcock, ‘A Twist in the Lines’, POPP.027I’ll be talking about Piece of Paper Press, the artists’ book project that I set up in 1994, and which was designed as a sustainable publishing platform for commissioning and publishing new works by artists and writers. Since 1994 I’ve published works by artists and writers including Michael Moorcock(left), Joanna Walsh, Liliane Lijn, Pavel Büchler, Peter Bunting, Barbara Campbell, Tim Etchells, Bruce Gilchrist, Halford+Beard, Elizabeth Magill, Penny McCarthy, James Pyman, Borivoj Radaković, Gordana Stanišić, Suzanne Treister, Alison Turnbull, and many more. The image below is of some of the design roughs, colour and print tests generated by Joanna Walsh’s ‘Shklovsky’s Zoo’, which was published by Piece of Paper Press in July 2015. The next title will be the 30th in the series, and is by the brilliant, LA-based artist Steven Hull.

Fellow speakers at the British Library on 20 February include Sam Jordison of the celebrated Galley Beggar Press and the Guardian, authors Susie Nott-Bower and Alex Pheby, and Lynn Michell of the Linen Press. It promises to be a really good day.

N.B. If you are interested in coming along, the advice from the British Library is to book early, as these events are marketed across their lists and tend to sell out rather quickly.



Christmas Castañeda

Dear friends,

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.48.50Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a brilliant new year 2016.

Here for the first time—as a seasonal, solstice gift—is my psychedelic short story ‘Apocryphal Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’, dubbed to Gibby Haynes’s musical accompaniment. This is a rough radio mix put together mainly to add to the documentation of Steven Hull’s Puppet Show project for Glow: Santa Monica 2013 (the ‘for-one-night-only’ triennial arts all-nighter on Santa Monica beach) for which both story and music were specially commissioned. Hull’s giant puppet show performance of the story on a revolving stage on Santa Monica beach is pictured right.


Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 11.57.34I’ve loved Gibby Haynes’s work with Butthole Surfers over the years, so I was thrilled to be involved in a project with him. The way that his music seems to synchronise with—even to illustrate—the text is all the more incredible since Gibby has said that he ‘intentionally did not read the story then was shocked to find out how much the writing inspired the sounds.’

The story vocal was recorded in one continuous take on an Edirol R09—here’s the high-tech set up ;)

‘Apocryphal Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ was first published in print and audio (with sounds by Steven Hull) on the gatefold vinyl LP A Puppet Show, by Steven Hull, together with an instrumental version of Haynes’s track, and music by the great Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff.

Steven Hull’s forthcoming book CARNEVIL will be the 30th title from Piece of Paper Press, and is due for publication in early 2016.

Have a great (non-ordinary) Christmas, and I look forward to seeing you in 2016.



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Scenario planning

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 15.18.29I love it when a plan comes together—as the, um, poets say. (There’s more about those poets below*).

But seriously, I am really thrilled that a conversation I have been involved in behind the scenes over the past year or so has resulted in three new and innovative—and well funded—artists’ residencies in the field of climate change, which have been announced this week at COP21.

Back in 2014 I published a provocation entitled ‘Wanted: A New Kind of War Artist’, building on the research I had undertaken in writing my climate change novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South, and the ongoing discussions with scientists and others that writing the novel had both required and engendered. Here is a short extract:

… right now, the climate science and policy communities actually need artists, writers, composers, film directors more than ever: people who know how to tell stories, and how to reach new audiences with new ideas. Models and expertise already exist for artistic intervention within the international scientific arena, models which might relatively simply be adapted and used to create not just ‘flying visits’, but deep and long-term engagements. One ready example is the artists’ residency programme at CERN. Why not artists and writers in residence at the IPCC (or across its operations)? … At the outbreak of WWII (following the work that had been done by artists including Eric Ravilious, Wyndham Lewis and many others during the First World War), a new War Artists’ Advisory Committee oversaw the appointment of artists who were charged not only with documenting the conflict at home and internationally, but—given its scale and complexity—with interpreting it too.

Could it be that the ‘climate crunch’ and the next phase of mobilisation against climate change demand the creation of a new kind of War Artist?

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 15.03.37A month or two later, a few of us gathered in a breakout session at TippingPoint Oxford called by the Culture and Climate Change programme of the OU’s Mediating Change partnership. I reprised the ‘War Artist’ analogy, and pointed out that the word ‘scenario’—so prevalent in climate change policy—comes from the arts, from the early days of opera, rather than from military planning. Quickly putting two and two together, Joe Smith and Renata Tyszczuk of Culture and Climate Change wondered whether scenarios might provide a useful focus for some new artists’ residencies. Judith Knight of Artsadmin, Rose Fenton of Free Word Centre and I pooled our knowledge and experience of residencies and—at the invitation of Culture and Climate Change—and together with Robert Butler of The Ashden Trust, we formed an advisory group in order to support them in developing such a programme.

Now, with generous support from the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, in addition to that provided by The Ashden Trust, The Open University and the University of Sheffield, this networked residency idea has been announced, to tie in with COP21. Here is the press release (opens as PDF) and here is the blurb:

We’re delighted to launch the Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios Project.

We are seeking three artists to take part in a new form of arts residency, offering access to a network of climate change researchers across the UK. Each residency includes an award of £10,000. We welcome applications from individuals and collectives from any artform to work on new creative projects engaging with scenarios of climate change. The closing date for applications is Monday 15 February, 5pm GMT. This project, sets out to test the GSxEvJqzgWbCu8kq61--96qVJm2uWaBVrWl0ptMYwLXT_BEpxhRuGN2MnK_742s-IjYd6Dpe5lk_HHz6rtKw-Vjhe3bWUgzu8KZNZGAGTvcDpM9WJjcfXl47pg=s0-d-e1-ftidea of ‘networked residencies’. Climate research has long relied on networked collaborations rather than individual, geographically-located centres. Through these residencies, you will be able to research the issue of climate and spend time exploring and developing your own artistic practice. In this way we hope you will introduce a new cultural depth to public conversations around future scenarios.

This project has been developed as part of the Culture and Climate Change programme of work which began in 2009 as a series of discussions, events, podcasts and publications organised by the Mediating Change group. The group is based in the Open University’s Open Space Research Centre, and is rooted in a partnership between the Open University Geography Department and the University of Sheffield School of Architecture.

Hold the date
We will be hosting an evening at ArtsAdmin on Wednesday 27 January, 2016. The event will explore why scenarios are such a key element of climate change research and politics, and also why it is important to invite a wider range of perspectives on these themes. It will also be an opportunity for those wishing to apply for the residency programme to find out more.

*Oh yes, and those poets:


Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios—Application deadline: Monday 15 February, 2016, 5pm. The residencies will take place between June 2016 and May 2017. Click through for full information and application form.

You can still download Shackleton’s Man Goes South free and DRM-free in all ebook formats

‘It’s not often that fiction, a novel, genuinely manages to shock’—Read David Gullen’s review of Shackleton’s Man Goes South on Arcfinity

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