A secular queer spirituality drenches Jarman’s memoirs, particularly ‘At Your Own Risk’ which I found epiphanic; I took it, in many ways, as a manifesto for the future possibilities of my own life. I must say, it did very much electrify my own poetic sensibilities and confirmed my suspicion that subversion is often an affirmingly human act.
Particularly the cultural studies tract ‘The Uses Of Literacy’ which illuminated in a most creative and accessibly academic way the whole historical shift of the masses into the clawing, enticing succour of the new mass culture. It documented the end of a particular pattern of working class life and the richness of its longstanding traditions which were in the process of being conquered, to a great extent, by the industrialisation of literature, music and image.
His ‘Selected Shorter Poems’ was a set text at English ‘A’ Level, I identified to the point of feeling embalmed by the poetic melancholy of the characters and landscapes he wrote about. Coming from Dorset myself, it simmered and chimed with with my own feelings of loss and disconnect in the face of an idealisation of people and places that had gone or changed beyond recognition.
His debut poetry collection, ‘Terry Street’ (1969), was a pivotal text for me in that I really feel a sense of lived in, autobiographically determined memoir in his verse of an age long gone. It’s one thing to read a social history textbook, but poetry like this lets you live, momentarily, all the complex interconnections and the morals, ethics and outlooks of a tightly knit community that is no more.
Paul E. Willis
A real hero writer of mine. I adore sociologists who practice ethnomethodology; a long word which means that the researcher reveals the social structures of the group being studied through the use of their own words; through ‘conversational analysis’. Paul E. Willis’s groundbreaking texts, ‘Learning To Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs’ and ‘Profane Culture’, in which he studied biker gangs and hippies in the mid 70’s, are like hermetically sealed time capsules and, in their niche way, every bit as vital and illuminating as the wartime ‘Mass Observation’ studies were in their documenting their age.
Barney Ashton-Bullock, is a ‘regular contributing poet’ to the Wellington Street Review and has had poems published in the New River Press Yearbook, the ‘Avalanches In Poetry’ tribute anthology to Leonard Cohen, SPAMzine and in the ‘Soho Nights II’ and ‘Soho Nights III’ anthologies published by The Society Club Press. He is the playwright/poet/librettist in the ‘Andy Bell is Torsten’ queer music-theatre collective and narrates his own verse on the current Downes Braide Association album ‘Skyscraper Souls’. A poetry pamphlet ‘Café Kaput!’ is forthcoming from Broken Sleep Books in May 2020.