Continuing The Unfinished Conversation: Stuart Hall through the lens of John Akomfrah

The archive has been the space of intervention from the beginning. One of the few spaces, reservoirs of memory, for diasporic subjects is the archive.

John Akomfrah (2014)

Benjamin E.I. Lubbock

Edited by Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo and Rianna Walcott

Art by Maïa Walcott https://maiawalcott98.wixsite.com/mysite

Memory and the moving image are John Akomfrah’s materials. In The Unfinished Conversation, a three-screen video installation, his subject matter is the formation of identity, which, for individuals struggling to define themselves in their social contexts, is a matter of urgency. It is not easy to explain how identities are created, and there are few who have considered the matter in greater depth than Stuart Hall, around whom the film revolves. Born in Jamaica before immigrating to Oxford, Hall became editor-in-chief of the New Left Review and a founding figure of the New Left movement. He was an activist, regularly televised for his analyses of media reports, and co-authored seminal texts such as The Popular Arts (1964), which advanced the claim that film, media and pop culture should be taken seriously as objects of study. But what he was arguably most renowned for were his theories of identity: “Identity is formed at the intersection between the political and the personal” (Hall, 2013).

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Launch Night Excerpts

Art by Priyanka Meenakshi https://www.priyankameenakshi.com/

We celebrated Project Myopia with a beautiful launch event towards the end of semester 2. It was a night of music and poetry, as well as an opportunity for some of our contributors to elaborate on their essays and ideas. Our performers touched on a wide range of serious issues: from the exclusion of racial minorities’ contribution to the canon of literature, to the oppressive nature of zero-hour contracts that prevent tutors from being able to fully engage in helping all students get ahead, let alone those from a minority background who need assistance most. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who performed and shared their experiences, and we also have to thank everyone who attended and helped us drink the wine we provided! Project Myopia aims to bring marginalized people together and amplify their voices, and our launch felt like a perfect culmination of our semester’s work: people came together and shared their experiences of an academic world we need to change.

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On John Wieners

Dominic Hale

Edited by Avani Udgaonkar

Art by Figgy Guyver http://www.instagram.com/themineralfact/

In 2015, a new edition of John Wieners’ (1934-2002) selected poems was published by Seattle’s Wave Books in the US, and by Enitharmon Press in Europe. Supplication collects work from as far back as 1958 by one of the more inimitable, underrated, and devastating American poets of the last century, a writer who allies an almost anachronistic queer lyric abject to the hopeful projectivist experimentation of Charles Olson. Having studied at Black Mountain College and lived in Boston, New York, and San Francisco, Wieners is variously grouped with the Black Mountain, Beat and New York poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance, his writing often apparently overshadowed by better known figures such as Olson, Frank O’Hara, and Allen Ginsberg. This is a great shame. When set alongside a radical politics and praxis anathema to the neoliberal academy, and an experimentalism that repels classification, it’s evident why Wieners isn’t a widely taught writer. He ought to be, in my opinion, one of the most popular poets of the post-war period, and I’m profoundly grateful for his work’s courage, delicacy, and strength.

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Letters I Never Sent To You

Frederick Alexander

Edited by Toby Sharpe

Art: ‘Want and Need’ by Olivia Twist http://www.yesoliviatwist.com/

I would like to introduce Paula Varjack’s Letters I Never Sent To You as a text that may be used in an academic curriculum. During my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, I became involved with the Scottish and UK live literature performance network. Through this scene, I became aware of Varjack’s theatre work, in particular her solo performance ‘Show Me The Money,’ a piece of documentary theatre that explores the economics of artistry under austerity. I was excited for the release in 2015 of her debut collection, Letters I Never Sent To You, especially in the context of her previous work.

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Dennis Saddleman’s “Monster” and Erasure of Voices

Leslie Anne St. Amour
Editing by Rianna Walcott

Art: ‘Winter’ by Ernest Lawson

The first time I heard Dennis Saddleman’s poem Monster, I cried. The recording of Saddleman’s voice describes the trauma of his childhood as a ‘monster’, something all children fear, but his man-made by a government that should have protected him. It was an unexpected feature at volunteer training, which was designed to teach about current realities of oppression in Indigenous communities and the historical legacies that are to blame. It’s important to note that for many of these volunteers, including those who had attended Canadian educational institutions for their entire lives, this was the first time they were exposed to these realities.

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