Talking Liberties: Ranting poets, 'zines and angry kids of the ’80s

Porky the Poet (drawn by Phill Jupitus)

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Working-class, protesting poets gave themselves a voice through verse, performance and 'zines

The 1980s: it was all about Maggie Thatcher, the growth of individualism, privatisation, breaking the unions ... or was it? Not according to the Ranting Poets — working-class, protesting poets inspired by punk and reggae who gave themselves a voice through brave new verse, performance and zines. These poets grabbed the notion of free speech for all and ran with it. Join music journalist Garry Bushell, poet and writer Salena Godden, columnist Suzanne Moore, Ranting Poet Tim Wells and cultural theorist Matthew Worley as they explore this energy-filled 80s phenomenon and its ongoing influence.

Garry Bushell is one of the best known columnists in UK popular journalism. His writing career started in 1977, when he produced his own ’zine, Napalm. In 1978 he joined rock weekly Sounds, where he wrote extensively about second generation punk bands (such as the Ruts, UK Subs and the Skids); and he was the first to write about 2-Tone, New Mod and Street-Punk. Since then Garry Bushell has appeared regularly on television and radio. He plays all over the world with his band The Gonads and has published novels, short stories and biographies.

Salena Godden has been described as ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’ by Kerrang! magazine. She has published the poetry pamphlet Under the Pier (2011), a poetry anthology Fishing In The Aftermath, Poems 1994-2014 (2014) and a childhood memoir Springfield Road (2014). She is known as The General of The Book Club Boutique held at Vout O’Reenee’s in east London and is the lead singer and lyricist of SaltPeter, alongside composer Peter Coyte. She has appeared on BBC Radio and has co-written and presented (with Rebecca Maxted) radio documentaries including Stir it Up! - 50 Years of Writing Jamaica.

Suzanne Moore is an award-winning columnist for The Guardian who has written extensively on politics, gender equality and cultural studies. During her career Moore has written for Marxism Today, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Independent and the New Statesman.

Tim Wells is the founding editor of poetry magazine Rising. He has performed all over the country and has worked as a guest poet on Radio London and as writer in residence with Tighten Up, the east London reggae sound system. His recent books include Keep the Faith (2013), Rougher Yet (2009) and Boys’ Night Out in the Afternoon (2006), which was shortlisted by the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. He lives in London.

Matthew Worley is Professor of Modern History at the University of Reading. Having written widely on interwar British politics, he is currently researching the connections between youth cultures, politics and social change in the 1970s and 1980s. A series of articles have been published in relation this, including a study of British fanzines (1976-84) in the History Workshop Journal 79 (2015). Worley also initiated the AHRC-funded Subcultures Network; a book - Anarchy in the UK? Punk, Politics and British Youth Culture - should be completed by the end of the decade.

Part of the London-wide Stand Up and Spit season. In association with Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions


Name: Talking Liberties: Ranting poets, 'zines and angry kids of the ’80s
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546