My new short story ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’, published in a limited print edition by Piece of Paper Press, was written for and first performed as a live reading at ‘The Cenotaph Project & the public sphere’, an event that I did with Maya Balcioglu, Stuart Brisley, and Sanja Perovic (chaired by Johanna Malt) that took place in the King’s College Strand Campus chapel in London, on 24 October 2014.
Presented in the Swiftian tradition of a ‘modest proposal’, ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ frames a satirical proposition: that the current high-rise tower of Holborn Police Station be decommissioned and converted into ‘a new Holborn Cenotaph, a 50-metre high, networked memorial to those men and women who have lost their lives or who will die in contact with the police in the UK.’
‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ draws on conversations with Stuart Brisley et al that I have been conducting through 2013-14, through my residency and current Visiting Research Fellowship at King’s College London, in order to research a new work of prose fiction exploring aspects of Brisley’s work. ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ is one of two* stories that were intended as prototypes or test pieces for this larger project, after a method adopted by French poet Louis Aragon in the early stages of writing his novel about Henri Matisse, where he noted the need for:
a kind of trial approach to my theme, a marginal commentary on [his] method, in order to justify the liberty taken with my subject, my own variations, the sort of detachment I aimed at.
During planning for ‘The Cenotaph Project & the public sphere’ event, I recalled that Stuart Brisley had been a supporter of Piece of Paper Press in the early days of the project during the mid-1990s (donating the early publications that he had collected to the UCL Library’s Little Magazines Collection). We thought it might be apt to use the format for a publication that we could give away on the night. An uncorrected proof edition of ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ with variant text and limited to fifty numbered signed copies was distributed to the audience at the event itself.
This edition of ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ is published by Piece of Paper Press in a limited edition of 150 numbered copies. To obtain a free copy while stocks last please send a stamped and self-addressed envelope to:
FAO Patrick ffrench
c/o Department of French
King’s College London
Virginia Woolf Building
London WC2B 6NR
‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ was written for October’s event at the King’s College Strand campus chapel, London, but could be read in any public or civic space associated with ceremonial or displays of power. In addition to the updatable sections indicated within the text, the story could also be adapted for performance in any UK location, whether alongside Brisley and Balcioglu’s The Cenotaph Project or not, by substitution of Holborn Police Station and other London or location-specific detail with any UK police station building, town or city; MOPAC (the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime) for any local police authority, etc.
Download ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ press release (opens as PDF).
Piece of Paper Press was created by Tony White in 1994 as a lo-tech, sustainable publishing project used to publish new writings, visual and graphic works by artists and writers. Past contributors have included Michael Moorcock, Tim Etchells, Bruce Gilchrist, Liliane Lijn, Elizabeth Magill, James Pyman, Suzanne Treister, Alison Turnbull, Penny McCarthy and others. Each book is manufactured from a single A4 sheet that is printed on both sides using a photocopier or a domestic printer, and then folded, stapled and trimmed by hand to create the book. The edition is limited to 150 copies, which are usually distributed free by post. This is the 28th title from Piece of Paper Press.
*The other story written as a test piece for the larger project in this way is ‘High-Lands’, which was originally commissioned for radio by London Fieldworks as part of their Remote Performances project, broadcasting live from Outlandia on Resonance 104.4fm during August of this year. Listen to ‘High-Lands’ on my SoundCloud page.