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Boscombe Revolution: All disempowered voices must be heard

Shocked at the levels of sexism and misogyny in the poetry world, Bournemouth poets Paul Hawkins and Simon McCormack set up Boscombe Revolution. Sarer Scotthorne and Paul Hawkins discuss their present and future plans

BOSCOMBE REVOLUTION is a themed poetry and flash fiction pamphlet now in its third issue, created by Bournemouth poets Paul Hawkins and Simon McCormack.

They wanted to start a dialogue about Boscombe while at the same time placing it firmly on the poetry map. The local music, poetry and art scene was vibrant and exciting.

It included the arts charity Vita Nova, of which Paul and Simon were associate artists, offering workshops on creative writing, performance, theatre, photography and music. At its peak in 2013 the work was plentiful, alternative and edgy.

Paul and Simon used the theme “provocations of revolution and place” for issue one, found funding to cover print costs and had over 300 submissions from poets and writers both locally and worldwide.

Paul shouldered the majority of the work and was supported by artist/poet Sarer Scotthorne with issue one. She provided a shoulder to cry on as well as advice on cover artwork, the launch and distribution. Paul’s dad John, a retired printer, did a fantastic job typesetting.

Right from the start the look of the pamphlet was important. Cover artwork was from Boscombe artist Mark Lloyd. We made it pocket-sized and affordable. A successful launch followed, with many poets performing and the screening of films from those who couldn’t make it. Within a few months we’d sold out of a limited edition print run of 150 copies.

Paul started Hesterglock Press to publish issue two, using money from sales of the first issue and a donation from a local art gallery. Simon pursued other projects and poet/activist Markie Burnhope came on board as co-editor.

Issue two continued the use of themes, this time “revolution and sound,” with cover art by Portuguese text artist Bruno Neiva.

Although it was fairly successful, we began to realise that they were perpetuating some of the inequalities within poetry and the wider publishing world and were keen to make some significant changes.

Markie and Paul began to develop a harder, more revolutionary line regarding the submission criteria, and this drew Sarer into becoming guest editor for issue three (revolution and gender).

The three of us decided that we wanted to actively seek submissions of work which interprets revolution from a feminist/women’s perspective, work from black women and other women from minority ethnic groups, work from poets and writers of all genders, sexual orientations and disabilities. We felt, and still feel, that all disempowered voices must be heard.

We have been shocked at the levels of sexism and misogyny in the poetry world. White, male, middle-class and able-bodied editors choose the subject matters that are to be published, and women are marginalised and dismissed as “emotional” or full of petty female angst.

Gay men, lesbians, disabled and non-cis individuals don’t get much of a voice either. Many of the writers we have spoken to said that their more radical writing was very difficult to find a publisher for.

Audiences have expressed to us that they want to read more radical work. Judging by the current sales of issue three, they are buying it too. The majority of mainstream publishers churn out the same old white, male, middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual product.

Issue three came out in January and has some hard-hitting, powerful work from predominantly female voices.  The stunning cover artwork was by Birgitte Van Moos Chalcraft. Following a packed-out launch in Bristol (Paul moved from Boscombe to Bristol last summer) along with another launch in Boscombe, we have our first London launch happening at 7pm today at the Brick Lane Bookshop.

Performing there will be Linda Mannheim, Rose Drew, Lucy Furlong, Kyra Hanson, Myriam San Marco, Gary Budden, Sarer and Paul.

Hesterglock Press publishes poetry and flash fiction pamphlets and zines, including Westside HERstory (featuring Bristolian women writers and edited by Sarer), the Hydrazine and Sarer’s own pamphlet collection The Blood House.

For issue four of Boscombe Revolution, Markie has handed on his co-editing seat to Sarer, and we’ll be open for submissions in March. The themes will be revolution and free speech. We have some exciting publications planned for 2015.

Get in touch with us through our website, Twitter @HesterglockP and Facebook.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter – [email protected]
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