On starry nights in December the jukebox was tendentious.
With the afterbirth arrived the text : no more drinking for you -
four weeks later the pram rolled on its own down the tube,
she took the can the drunk commuters offered her, alighted,
pointed towards Canary Wharf – which she hated – & said
“I fucking love this City”.
- from ‘Red’ by Chris McCabe
City State showcases the work of twenty-seven London writers between the ages of 16 and 36. From hyperlinked walks of Battersea bombsites and guerilla gardening projects to jagged urban lyrics and dark hymns to the East End, City State presents a confident, entertaining and truly diverse snapshot of the best new poetry from London.
Jay Bernard, Caroline Bird, Ben Borek, Siddhartha Bose, Tom Chivers, Swithun Cooper, Alex Davies, Inua Ellams, Laura Forman, Christopher Horton, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Kirsten Irving, Annie Katchinska, Amy Key, Chris McCabe, Marianne Munk, Holly Pester, Heather Phillipson, Nick Potamitis, Imogen Robertson, Jacob Sam La Rose, Ashna Sarkar, Jon Stone, Barnaby Tidman, Ahren Warner, James Wilkes, Steve Willey
‘We are offered London as a test case for a new diversity of means and manner, from sassy performance scripts to the solid blocks of densely disjunctive language characterised as innovative or avant-garde. [City State proposes] a central space that is also the meeting place of many edges.’
Philip Gross, Poetry London
‘City State is [a] journey across the metropolis in rush hour: a journey that by turns bewilders, delights and throws up unpalatable truths. The anthology showcases a real range of styles, from Jacob Sam-La Rose’s heartfelt verse, to Chris McCabe’s complex, darkly witty observations. Though diverse, the poets featured here often seem to riff around several themes that are associated with London itself: dislocation, escapism, breathlessness.’
Helen Mort, Pen Pusher
‘Performance poets are wedged side by side with the new crop of post-langpo practitioners and sculptors of sound; formalism and new narrative jostle for position with cut-ups, found poems and the inheritors of a confessional poetics [...] What seems to unit the best of the poets here is a quality of looking outward: they are aware of, and play with, the possibilities of language and form; they draw on a recognisable tradition but refresh it, linguistically and subjectively [...] There is a great deal of vitality and versatility among the younger generation of emerging poets in the country’s capital.’
Simon Turner, Under the Radar
‘Here is a good, deep shaft drilled into the poetry of the capital. [...] What I like about this anthology is its range. There are poets here who, I guess, could fit into the latest Bloodaxe catalogue with relative ease. There are others, like Nick Potamitis or Steve Wiley and Alex Davies, who are much more experimental and are carrying on the work of poets such as Allen Fisher and Iain Sinclair. And there are poets coming out of a more performance-oriented stream such as Jacob Sam-La Rose, whose wonderfully ironic ‘How to be Black’ is one of the many highlights of this collection.[...] A true anthology of what’s going on in poetry now.’
Steven Waling, Brandos Hat
‘[W]hat’s kept me coming back to City State are traits which, if not common to every single contributor, do give the anthology a certain atmosphere: a freshness of language and imagery, an openness to experimenting with form, an interest in lives on the periphery and the attempt to understand the complexities of modern urban experience.’
Tom Phillips, Eyewear
Jay Bernard was born in London in 1988. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry London, The Guardian and The Independent, and performed on Radio 4′s The Green Room and Radio 3′s The Verb as well as at Trafalgar Square and on the Culture Show. She won the London Respect Slam in 2004 and in 2005 was selected as a Foyle Young Poet of the Year. Her debut, Your Sign is Cuckoo, Girl (Tall Lighthouse, 2008), was selected as a PBS pamphlet choice.
Caroline Bird was born in London in 1986. She is the author of Looking Through Letterboxes and Trouble Came to the Turnip (both Carcanet). Caroline has won an Eric Gregory award and was a Foyle Young Poet Of the Year twice; her recent collection was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize 2008. She has read at the Royal Festival Hall and Manchester, Cheltenham and Ledbury literature festivals. She is currently studying English at Oxford University.
Ben Borek was born in Camberwell in 1980. He graduated from The University of East Anglia Creative Writing MA in 2004. His novel in verse, Donjong Heights, was published last year by Egg Box Publishing. His poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies and he has read his work all over Britain, in Europe and on BBC Radio. He lives in London and is currently working on his second book.
Siddhartha Bose was born in 1979, raised in Bombay and Calcutta, and lived for seven years in the United States. A trained actor and filmmaker, his poetry has appeared in The Wolf, Tears in the Fence, Fulcrum, Eclectica and Alhamra Literary Review, and is anthologized in Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century (Bloodaxe, 2009). He currently lives in London and is completing a PhD on the Grotesque at Queen Mary, University of London.
Tom Chivers was born in 1983 in South London. A writer, editor and promoter of poetry, his publications include The Terrors (Nine Arches Press, 2009) and How To Build A City (Salt Publishing, 2009). A winner of the inaugural Crashaw Prize, he is Associate Editor of Tears in the Fence, was Poet in Residence at The Bishopsgate Institute, London, and has appeared on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Tom is Director of Penned in the Margins and Co-Director of London Word Festival.
Swithun Cooper was born in 1983 and graduated from the Warwick Writing Programme. He lives in London. Swithun’s creative work has appeared in magazines including Acumen, The London Magazine and PN Review. In his spare time he puts on events with the feminist collective Manifesta.
Alex Davies was born in 1984 and lives in Wigan. He co-runs the Openned reading series and website in London and co-founded The Other Room series in Manchester. His work has been published in veer off (Veer Books, 2008) and Past Simple. Extracts of his work, including an audio performance of a section of his latest work LONDONSTONE, can be found at openned.com
Inua Ellams was born in 1984 in Nigeria and lives in London. He is a Word & Graphic Artist who constantly strives to merge the two disciplines. His work in both fields is known for its rich imagery and attention to detail. Inua is influenced equally by classic literature and hip-hop culture; his poetry fuses archaic language and sentence structure with contemporary diction, loose rhythm and rhyme. His pamphlet Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales was published by Flipped Eye in 2005.
Laura Forman was born in Basingstoke in 1979, educated at Cambridge and lives in South London. Her poetry has been published in various magazines and the anthology Generation Txt. She was recently commissioned by Galaxy Chocolate. Laura works as the writer at Elmwood London, a design agency based in Soho. The space is more like a bar than an office so Laura programmes and hosts a quarterly poetry night there called SoPo. She occasionally reviews pop music and fiction for The Financial Times.
Wayne Holloway-Smith was born in 1979. He is currently a student of creative writing at Brunel University. His poems have been published in The Wolf, Rising, Pen Pusher and Life Lines 2: Poets for Oxfam. His short story, Hyperpsychoreality Syndrome, was released as an audiobook by BBC New Writing. His pocket book of poetry is forthcoming from Donut Press.
Christopher Horton was born in 1978 and lives in London. His poems have been published (or are forthcoming) in Iota, Dream Catcher, Other Poetry, The Wolf, Magma, Fuselit, Ambit, Stand and City Lighthouse (Tall Lighthouse). Co-host of East Words at Museum in Docklands, Christopher was commended in the 2008 National Poetry Competition.
Kirsten Irving was born in 1983 in a Lincolnshire village so small it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia entry. She is the submissions editor of Fuselit magazine and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Rising, Shakespeare’s Monkeys, Toad in Mud and Mimesis. She is currently putting together her first pamphlet, maintaining the facade of naturally pillar box hair and doing her Rickenbacker justice.
Annie Katchinska was born in Moscow in 1990 and has lived in London for most of her life. She won a Foyle Young Poet of the Year award in 2006 and came second in the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition in 2007. Her poems have appeared in Magma and Mimesis and she has performed at New Blood at the Poetry Café. Annie is currently in the middle of a Classics degree at Cambridge.
Amy Key was born in Dover in 1978. She grew up in Kent and Tyneside and has lived and worked in London since 2001. She co-organises The Shuffle reading series and edited The Shuffle Anthology 2007-2008. Her poetry has been published in Magma, South Bank Poetry, Smiths Knoll and Rising. Her first pamphlet, instead of stars, was published by Tall Lighthouse in 2009 as part of their Pilot series.
Chris McCabe was born in Liverpool in 1977. His work has appeared in magazines including Magma and Poetry Review and he has published two collections with Salt – The Hutton Inquiry (2005) and Zeppelins (2009). He has discussed and read his poetry on BBC World Service, featured a poem on the Oxfam CD Lifelines and performs his work regularly. Chris works as Joint Librarian of The Poetry Library and lives in Dagenham with his wife and son.
Marianne Munk was born in 1982 and spent the early part of her life in South Africa. She’s lived in the UK since 1997, and London since 2004. Her pamphlets include Madam, I’m Damaged (Barque, 1998); Scrum in the Cum (yt communication, 2007); I Capture the Cold Sore (Critical Documents, 2007); and Beaten by Chastisement (Veer Books, 2008). A finance secretary by day, by night she just puts the “factotum” in fuck totem or whatevs.
Holly Pester was born in 1982. She uses the materiality of speech to compose performance-driven works that experiment playfully with semantic meaning and identity. She has recently completed a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing and is preparing a PhD in sound poetry and transmedia poetics. She has previously collaborated with poets James Wilkes and Abigail Oborne, and with a composer from Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Heather Phillipson was born in London in 1978. She works as a professional artist and regularly exhibits nationally and internationally. She was awarded the Michael Donaghy Poetry Prize in 2007, an Eric Gregory Award and a commendation in the Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2008, and a Faber New Poets Award in 2009. She has a pamphlet forthcoming from Faber and Faber.
Nick Potamitis was born in 1975 and grew up in North London. His poems have appeared in Shearsman and the Openned Anthology. ‘anti-gravity belt projects’ first appeared in Issue One of Axolotl. His collection N. was published by Perdika Press in 2006.
Imogen Robertson was born in Darlington in 1973. She is a TV, film and radio director and her first novel, Instruments of Darkness, is published by Headline in 2009. She was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2005. She has lived in London since 1997, staying as near to the Thames as possible at all times.
Jacob Sam-La Rose was born in 1976. His pamphlet Communion was selected for a Poetry Book Society award in 2006. He is Artistic Director of the London Teenage Poetry SLAM, Editor-in-Chief of Metaroar.com, and an editor for Flipped Eye Press. Jacob facilitates a range of literature-in-education, creative writing and spoken word programmes for schools, arts centres and other institutions around the world.
Ashna Sarkar was born in 1992 in London to two immanently divorcing social workers. A young writer with more eyeliner than sense, Ashna’s poetry takes you on a guided tour from Camden Lock to the Surrey Downs, charting the perils of adolescence. She was dubbed ‘Britain’s hippest young Asian poet’ by Roddy Lumsden.
Jon Stone was born in 1983. His writing has appeared in The Wolf, Mimesis, Nthposition and Rising. He is production editor of Fuselit. Jon lives in Whitechapel and works as a transcript editor in London’s courts and arbitration centres.
Barnaby Tidman was born in 1986 and lives in London. He is interested in demystification/mystification, sonic fiction, subconscious poetics, William Burroughs, and cinema. He is wrapping up the first issue of his new magazine Summer Scars, which will be available in print and download from April 2009 (summerscars.com).
Ahren Warner was born in 1986. His poems and the occasional review have appeared in Poetry Review, Magma, The Wolf and others. His work is forthcoming in the Bloodaxe anthologies Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century and Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets. Ahren recently received an Arts Council England Award and is working towards his first collection. He is currently studying for an MA in Critical Methodologies. He lives in Hackney.
James Wilkes was born in Poole, Dorset in 1980. He is in his first year of a PhD at the London Consortium. His poetry has been published in various places including Tears in the Fence, Intercapillary Space, The Archive of the Now, Great Works and Generation Txt. He reviews contemporary art, writes for radio and theatre, and is currently working on a radio drama project about brain imaging. See renscombepress.co.uk
Steve Willey was born in 1984. He lives in Whitechapel and co-runs Openned (openned.com). His work is published or forthcoming in veer off (Veer Books, 2008), Stimulus Respond, Onedit 11, Past Simple, Klatch and Axolotl 3. His hand-made accordion book Wave: (Histories of the Kursk) has been archived by the British Library; Venus & Other Noises is published by Yt Communication in 2009. He is undertaking a collaborative PhD at Queen Mary entitled ‘British Poetry and Performance 1960-2008′.