Cover Gallery #3

The front of Ghost’s design for the paperback of Foxy-T—with its collage-effect street scene depiction of the E-Z Call—was never going to be quite as striking as Gray318’s stark wrap-around design for the jacketed demy paperback first edition, although it more or less picks up the yellow, red and black palette.FoxyTpbk_front
Of course the most important thing about this design is the Faber and Faber logo at bottom right, but between you and me, I’m not sure I was ever totally convinced by the two rather static figures standing with their backs to us. What are they doing there, and why are they standing in the road? I suppose it is pretty obvious that they are meant to be the novel’s main characters—who we know as Foxy-T and Ruji-babes—but it is probably also inevitable that I wouldn’t feel the pictures quite do the characters justice!

Nice typography though, and a great back cover!

Me and old Blakey and the Sarge

I’ve posted it before, but the death of actor Stephen Lewis, best known for his portrayal of the character Blakey in the 1969 British sitcom On the Buses, reminded me of this handwritten CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO tribute—in the style of On the Buses—by Billy Childish, which was written and performed by Billy at a launch event put on by publisher Codex Books at the Sussex Arts Club in Brighton in 1999.

Billy’s impromptu parody was prompted by the fact that one of the three coppers in my 1999 novel is also called Blakey.



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Book launched, reviewed


Thank you to the brilliant bookartbookshop for hosting the launch of “Shklovsky’s Zoo” by Joanna Walsh, the 29th title from my artists’ book imprint Piece of Paper Press, founded in 1994. (Click-through to see the panoramic photo in higher resolution.) “Shklovsky’s Zoo” is published in a limited, numbered edition of 150 copies, and many were given away at the launch event, on a first-come first-served basis. Titles from Piece of Paper Press are always given away, whether at a launch event or by post to a slowly evolving mailing list that includes past contributors.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 08.36.59“Shklovsky’s Zoo” is included in the summer reading round-up from Influx Press, and Richard Marshall’s review of “Shklovsky’s Zoo” is published on 3am Magazine.

It has a probing quality, pivoting without fumbling to strike its successive targets, moving at cantankerous pace. It has a low-key urgency in its tone, a sequence of discontinuities that assigns expressiveness to its inquisition. The very naturalness belies its vast metaphysical strangeness & all done in miniature of course.

“Shklovsky’s Zoo” by Joanna Walsh

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 08.36.59Piece of Paper Press and Joanna Walsh are delighted to invite you to the bookartbookshop to celebrate publication of “Shklovsky’s Zoo” by Joanna Walsh, the 29th title from Piece of Paper Press.

“Shklovsky’s Zoo” is published in a limited, numbered edition of 150 copies, and numbers 51-150 will be given away at the launch event.

bookartbookshop, 17 Pitfield Street, London N1 6HB
10 July 2015

No reservations. Strictly one copy per person, while stocks last.

Read the press release (opens as PDF).

Written on a residency during which the author was unable to find and read a copy of “Zoo” by Viktor Shklovsky—a novel based on real-life letters sent between the Russian critic and the unwilling object of his desire, Elsa Triolet—“Shklovsky’s Zoo” plays with the line between autobiography and fiction. What is the purpose of a letter? Is it a story, or an honest account (or both)? Does it depend on who is sending, who is receiving it? What happens when letters are made into books? Is there any truth in Shklovsky’s “Zoo”, or “Shklovsky’s Zoo” at all?

Find out more about Piece of Paper Press:



Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.06.52It was a great pleasure to join friends and colleagues both old and new at Beaconsfield’s 20th anniversary party last night. If you don’t already know them, Beaconsfield has been curating visual art, producing new sound, performance and interdisciplinary art projects for 20 years, providing

a critical space for creative enquiry. Founded to occupy a niche between the institution, the commercial and the ‘alternative’ the charity maintains a unique venue which has provided a laboratory and presentation space for contemporary art and artists since 1995. Set up in the former Lambeth Ragged School by artists with a track record for organising grass-roots events, Beaconsfield commissions, and is commissioned, nationally and internationally and has a long history of innovative collaboration with other organisations and individuals, on and off-site. The annual programme typically includes a range of exhibitions, residencies, talks and events as well as interventions in public space.

There was much to celebrate. Past projects include groundbreaking works by artists including London Fieldworks, Tomoko Takahashi, Hayley Newman, Pan Sonic, Iain Hinchliffe, Chris Marker, Franko B, Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Shane Cullen, Monica Ross, Rod Dickinson and Tom McCarthy, Bob and Roberta Smith, and many, many more. This incredible roll call of artists is testament to the curatorial vision and leadership of Beaconsfield founders David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin.

© Marianne Magnin, 2015

© Marianne Magnin, 2015

But last night’s event also marked a turning point in Beaconsfield’s history, since after two decades as a fixed-term client of Arts Council England Beaconsfield is now going it alone. The party also marked the launch of a new #SupportBeaconsfield campaign, with a ‘Friends, Best Friends and Patrons’ scheme, and a new edition of four specially commissioned prints by artist Thomas Yeomans that were launched and available to buy on the night.

Along with David Ball (Soft Cell) & Dave Chambers, Shiva Feshareki & Jack Jelfs, Russell Haswell, Lucky PDF, Boo Saville and Simon Tyszko I was part of the entertainment, and gave a couple of readings. Marianne Magnin of The Cornelius Foundation kindly sent through some wonderful photos, including this one of my second set of the night, in Beaconsfield’s courtyard, where I read from 1999 police satire CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO.

© Marianne Magnin, 2015

© Marianne Magnin, 2015

Here is more about the campaign:

NewDawnlogonew#SupportBeaconsfield is a fundraising campaign raising awareness of Beaconsfield’s groundbreaking role on the London art scene and the chance for lovers of contemporary art to sign up to #SupportBeaconsfield as a Friend, Best Friend or Patron at a discounted rate (available for a limited time only).


Download the #SupportBeaconsfield leaflet

Find out more about how to become a Friend, a Best Friend or a Patron of Beaconsfield.

Summertime Blues

NewDawnlogonewBeaconsfield, 25 June 2015

I am delighted to #supportbeaconsfield and to celebrate Beaconsfield’s 20th anniversary by reading as part of a bill that includes David Ball (Soft Cell) and Dave Chambers, Russell Haswell, Simon Tyszko, Shiva Feshareki and Jack Jelfs, Lucky PDF and Boo Saville. Founded as an educational charity in 1994 by artists with the desire to fill a niche between the institution, the commercial and ‘alternative’, Beaconsfield remains a unique, non-profit, politically engaged, artist-led entity, placing equal emphasis on audiences and artists. Beaconsfield has been curating visual art, producing new sound, performance and interdisciplinary art projects for 20 years. After two decades as a fixed-term client of Arts Council England, Beaconsfield is going it alone.

  • 7pm-Midnight, (press event 5-7), Beaconsfield, 22 Newport Street, London SE11 6AY
  • Free entry but RSVP essential (strictly guestlist), via Eventbrite or


Irish Museum of Modern Art, until 26 July 2015

Include Me Out of the Partisans Manifesto, artist Alan Phelan’s film of my short story ‘Include Me Out’ has been acquired by the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) for its permanent collection, and is being shown as a video installation as part of the new exhibition IMMA Collection: Fragments. Here is the blurb: ‘A suburban couple battle through the apparent obliteration of their shared experience as their DVD collection is painstakingly broken up and recycled. The film [which you can watch on Vimeo here] was based on a short story by Tony White written as a fictional representation of Alan Phelan’s art practice.’

Joanna Crawford and Brendan McCormack in Alan Phelan’s film, Include Me Out of the Partisans Manifesto (2012)

Joanna Crawford and Brendan McCormack in Alan Phelan’s film, Include Me Out of the Partisans Manifesto (2012)


Forthcoming from Piece of Paper Press

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 08.36.59Watch this space for news of the twenty-ninth publication from Piece of Paper Press. ‘Shklovsky’s Zoo’ by Joanna Walsh will be published in a limited, numbered edition of 150 copies, and numbers 51-150 will be given away at a launch event on 10 July 2015 (while stocks last). An invitation to this special event will be coming your way shortly. Piece of Paper Press is also included in the new, updated edition of Stephen Bury’s Artists’ books: the book as a work of art, 1963-2000, out now from Bernard Quaritch. Here is the blurb:

The history of artists’ involvement with the book format between 1963 and 2000 includes a fascinating range of artists and movements from Mallarmé to the Piece of Paper Press via Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Fluxus and conceptual art. This second edition includes updated text with new bibliographic descriptions of 600 key artists’ books and over 130 new, full-page, colour illustrations taken from the internationally renowned Chelsea College of Art & Design Library collection. It is an indispensable resource for the definition and classification of artists’ books by a renowned scholar in the field.


Remote Centres: Performances from Outlandia, from 30 July 2015

An architectural re-configuring of the Outlandia field-station, Remote Centres: Performances from Outlandia sees performance and sound works originally created at Outlandia by 20 artists, poets, writers, musicians and members of the Nevis community, contained within a sculptural environment inside the Tent Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Bruce outlandia thumbnailGilchrist and Jo Joelson (Outlandia / London Fieldworks) in association with Art Space & Nature (ECA), and includes performance works by Bram Thomas Arnold; Ruth Barker; Ed Baxter and Resonance Radio Orchestra with Tam Dean Burn; Johnny Brown with Band of Holy Joy; Clair Chinnery; Alec Finlay and Ken Coburn; Kirsteen Davidson-Kelly; Benedict Drew; Goodiepal; Sarah Kenchington; Lisa O’Brien; Lee Patterson; Michael Pedersen and Ziggy Campbell; Geoff Sample; Mark Vernon/Jo Joelson & Bruce Gilchrist; Tracey Warr; Tony White. The performances and sound works were originally commissioned for Remote Performances, a series of radio broadcasts from Outlandia, co-produced by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm, with support from Arts Council England, the Nevis Landscape Partnership, Oxford Brookes University and Forestry Commission Scotland.


DIY, not ‘me, me, me’

My review of the great Stand Up and Spit project exploring the ranting poetry scene of the early 1980s, featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson, Joolz, Attila the Stockbroker and many others at the Camden Centre, and ‘Talking Liberties’ at the British Library, is now up on the the Huffington Post entertainment blog:

…this was a fascinating and inspiring gig, and a rare opportunity to connect with a distinctive and influential literary scene long driven underground, but still no less relevant in today’s political and social landscape. Being reminded of the political fearlessness of the ranting scene, the confrontational and (mostly) left-ish, anti-sexist and anti-racist stances, the willingness to tackle challenging subject matter and social injustice, and to do so live and in the public sphere, was what made Stand Up and Spit refreshing, empowering even. But there was something else about it that had struck me at the British Library event back in May, and which is a little more subtle… READ MORE


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Agitate, educate

My review of the ranting poetry gig Stand Up and Spit: The Big One at the Camden Centre on 18 June 2015 is now up on Huffington Post. Here is a sample:

Although the Stand Up and Spit project is firmly focused on poetry and performance of the early 1980s, it is no mere exercise in nostalgia. The continued relevance of the often hard-hitting and politically acute literatures that the scene produced or adopted was demonstrated again and again at the Camden Centre. It was there in Janine Booth’s timeless crowd-pleaser ‘Mostly Hating Tories’, and in ‘Real Rape’, her compelling analysis of sexual violence and its many apologists. (I did say this material was hard-hitting.) We were privileged, too, to hear Linton Kwesi Johnson perform a rousing acapella version of ‘All Wi Doin is Defendin’. Although it was written over forty years ago, and the years have introduced a more fragile edge to LKJ’s voice, the poem felt no less vital or contemporary today. Johnson also brought a deeper sense of historical perspective and personal political engagement to the event, speaking movingly about being on the organising committee of the International Book Fair of Radical, Black and Third World Books, which had been held annually in this same hall from 1982-1995. This was where he had first seen the late Michael Smith perform–‘on this very stage’–and Johnson ended his set by reading Smith’s best known poem, ‘Mi Cyaan Believe It’, in tribute. [READ MORE…]

I’ve been following Tim Wells’s Stand Up and Spit project for a while, and for several reasons. Firstly because I saw some of this stuff first time around, and this work was part of the backdrop to a period that has proved to have been formative personally as well as socially, and which I have written about more than once (e.g. in my 2012 novella Dicky Star and the Garden Rule, or the short story ‘A Porky Prime Cut’, which I performed most recently at the October Gallery, with live accompaniment from UK acid house pioneer Richard Norris). But also because the spoken word scene of the late 1980s and the live literature scene that still existed when my fiction started getting published in the 1990s each still had something in common with the ranting scene—as indeed did some of my fiction—and because a few years later I was lucky enough to collaborate with the late Steven Wells (1960-2009) a.k.a. Swells—and no relation of Tim—who had invented the idea of ‘ranting verse’ in the first place.

I also went to an earlier event in the Stand Up and Spit season, a panel discussion at the British Library called ‘Talking Liberties’, where Tim Wells had been joined on stage by journalists Gary Bushell and Suzanne Moore, and the poet Salena Godden. That event had also highlighted for me a particular radical and pre-Thatcherite ethos that might also be associated with the ranting scene, and its inheritors. Something that I also explore in the Huffington Post piece.


Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 15.51.04

Read ‘DIY, not “me, me, me”’, my review of Stand Up and Spit, on the Huffington Post blog

Crossing Over: The Legacy of Ranting Poetry, A Tribute to Poet Michael Smith – a celebration with live poetry, film and audio, Black Cultural Archives, 25 June 2015, 19:00 to 22:30

Janine Booth, Mostly Hating Tories: Poems by Janine Booth, Hastings Press, £3.00

Joolz, Joolz (Recorded) 1983-1985 (MP3 album), Abstract Sounds, £7.99

Linton Kwesi Johnson, LKJ A Capella Live, (CD album), LKJ Records, £9.15 (plus £1.15 shipping) direct from LKJ Records

Find out more about Stand Up and Spit on Tim Wells’s Stand Up and Spit blog