Report WPM England

Andy C at T-junction 2018

London, 23-03-2023.

National Coordinator in England: Andy Croft.

At the moment the English section of the WMP is an informal network of poets attached to various institutions – the Morning Star newspaper, the poetry magazine Mistress Quickly’s Bed and independent poetry publishers Culture Matters, and Smokestack Books.


Each represents an attempt to resist the long-standing Quietist traditions of English poetry, currently exacerbated by the values of show business and big business, the neoliberal privatisation of feeling and Post-Modern identity poetics.


The Morning Star is the only UK newspaper that publishes a new poem every week, always with a radical or internationalist sensibility. Several Morning Star poets contributed to the WMP Poems for Peace project.


Culture Matters organises the annual ‘Bread and Roses’ awards for working-class poets, publishing an anthology of the best entries, as well as ground breaking radical collections from the four nations that constitute the United Kingdom.


Mistress Quickly’s Bed continues to publish a wide selection of radical poets in English and in translation, articulating a developing critique of neoliberalism and its effects on literary culture.


Last year Smokestack published several collections in translation, notably Farid Bitar’s Screaming Olives (about the struggle of the Palestinian people), Volker Braun’s Great Fugue (the politics of COVID) and Laura Fusco’s Nadir (the Refugee Crisis).


This year’s Smokestack list includes three titles which will be of interest to WPM members and which have been launched at events in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles.


Separated from the Sun is by the Kurdish poet Ilhan Sami Comak, imprisoned in Turkey since 1994 for the crime of ‘Separatism’. After 29 years in prison (the last 7 in solitary confinement) İlhan is one of Turkey’s longest serving political prisoners. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that his conviction was unlawful; he has always maintained his innocence.


We Are Here to Stay is a selection of poems by Tawfiq Zayyad (1929-1994), a Palestinian poet, a member of the Knesset and the elected mayor of Nazareth from 1975-1994. As a leader of the Israeli Communist Party, he represented both Jewish and Arab working-class communities, and was the spokesman for a secular and egalitarian political tradition opposed to both Zionism and Islamic fundamentalism. Many of his poems have been turned into well-known popular songs. Published to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba.


Julia Nemirovskaya (ed) Disbelief:100 Russian Anti-war Poems is a major collection about the war in Ukraine. But it is also a book about all the stupid and illegal wars of this century – most of which have involved the UK – the civilian deaths, the refugees, the dishonest justifications, the media manipulations, the silences, the white noise, and the absurd propaganda.