Public Knowledge: the87press present Notes on Radical Inclusivity, Diaspora, and Poetry
Notes on Radical Inclusivity, Diaspora, and Poetry is a three episode series curated by the87press (Azad Ashim Sharma and Kashif Sharma-Patel) in partnership with Camden Art Centre and poet-scholars Nat Raha, Nisha Ramayya, Callie Gardner, James Goodwin, Sarona Abuaker, and Dom Hale. Over its course, we discuss the legacies of cross-cultural and intersectional anti-racist activisms, critical theory and how those legacies impact the future of publishing in the UK.
Through a combination of audiocasts, poetry recordings, and notes towards a draft manifesto, the87press advocate for an inclusive publishing model premised on the formal expression of radical difference and challenging existing neoliberal models in the publishing industry which focus on commodification of texts rather than pushing the bounds of what is possible. Instead, collaborative grassroots alliances and radical, experimental, or hybrid forms of cultural production are put at the forefront. New formations in contemporary art and queer textual practices provide impetus in particular.
This series traces the rise of the current crisis of representation in UK society to the development of identity politics in the 90s and the current institutionalisation of diversity initiatives at the cost of decolonisation. With an openness to advocate for large scale changes in the accepted way publishing happens in the UK through an awareness of what is happening under the commercial surface of the book industry, as well as an openness to encourage discussion about a 21st Century vanguardism in the arts and culture sectors more widely. The use of audio recordings aims to trace the breath back of various theoretical arguments whilst also affirming and asserting radical inclusivity as a philosophy that describes the leading edge of contemporary cultural productions in the UK which remain community-focused and intersectional.
In this first episode, Azad Ashim Sharma and Kashif Sharma-Patel write notes towards a draft manifesto for the87press. Informed and prompted by Azad’s recent paper The Cantona Editorial (the Hythe, the87press, 2021), these notes expand on the critique of the dovetailing of diversity initiatives and the new reactionary conservatism in the UK by tracing the longer history of these debates back to the origins of Cultural Studies in the 80s, alongside contemporary trends in queer experimental writing. Drawing on thinkers such as A. Sivanandan, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Stuart Hall, amongst others, Azad and Kashif bring a collaborative research project, collective reading practice, and on-going discussion into fruition through their advocacy of a radically inclusive publishing practice. By introducing readers to the work of the87press, their reflections on three years of consistent activity, and their hopes for the future, Azad and Kashif present a warm and informative analysis of the contemporary UK underground as well as a comprehensive critical analysis of the challenges that remain as concerns encouraging a politically committed arts praxis in the UK.
This experimental sequence of notes towards a manifesto introduces readers for the first time to a 2018 draft manifesto read at the inaugural 87press reading series which moved between prose, poetry, cut ups, and a more classic version of manifesto writing. In seeking to reinterrogate their past selves as much as refer back to their experiences along the way, this piece of work engages with three years of ‘on the ground’ publishing practice, cutting across the seminar room and the street, advocating for a radical inclusivity in grassroots publishing and a fairer economic practice within the publishing industry at large.
The second episode of the series will showcase poetry in the following order by Sarona Abuaker, Dom Hale, Callie Gardner, Nat Raha, Nisha Ramayya and James Goodwin.
The final episode of the series is a recorded roundtable discussion between Nat Raha, Callie Gardner, Nisha Ramayya, James Goodwin, Dom Hale, Sarona Abuaker, Azad Ashim Sharma, and Kashif Sharma-Patel. Weaving together threads of thought along the lines of radical publishing, critiques of neoliberalism, nuanced understandings of the necessity for representation but also its pitfalls, as well as exegeses on poetics, aesthetics, and the rubrics of experimental or innovative writing. This discussion brings together poet-intellectuals connected with the87press and practitioners of radical cultural production through a decentralised framework.
Kashif Sharma-Patel is a writer, poet and editor at the 87 press. They work at the interface of sonic, visual and written cultures with particular reference to queer and racialised experimental work. Kashif has published and performed poetry across a number of platforms with a full-length collection forthcoming on the 87 Press. They also write music, art and literary criticism for Artforum, The Quietus, AQNB, Poetry London and more.
Azad Ashim Sharma is a poet and essayist living in South London. He is the director of the87press. He is the author of Against the Frame (Barque Press, 2017) and Boiled Owls (forthcoming). His poems have been published recently by Stand Magazine, the Asian American Writers Workshop and Gutter Magazine. His prose has been published by SPAMzine, MIR Online, and is forthcoming in Magma Magazine.
Callie Gardner is a poet and critic from Glasgow. Their book-length poem naturally it is not. was published by The 87 Press in 2018, and their critical writing is found at secondmoon.substack.com.
Dom Hale wrote Firewall (Distance No Object) and Scammer (the87press). He helped to organise the Edinburgh reading series JUST NOT and is currently co-editing the magazine LUDD GANG at poetshardshipfunduk.com. Civilian Lyrics is out from Veer in 2021.
James Goodwin is a poet undertaking a PhD in English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London. His pamphlet, aspects caught in the headspace we’re in: composition for friends, was published by Face Press; and his debut book, Fleshed Out For All The Corners Of The Slip, is forthcoming with the87press.
Sarona Abuaker is a poet, artist, and educational outreach worker. Her mixed-media essay ‘Suture Fragmentations – A Note on Return’ is published with KOHL: A Journal for Body and Gender Research, and her poems are featured in Berfrois, MAP Magazine, and The 87 Press Digital Poetics series. She is currently writing her debut collection ‘Why So Few Women On The Street At Night’ (to be released by The 87 Press in 2021), a queer phenomenology of collective Palestinian futurisms and memory building layering visual cultures, essays and poems, to approach territories as different as Turtle Island, Brockley and Palestine. She is based in London.
Nisha Ramayya grew up in Glasgow and is currently based in London. Her collection States of the Body Produced by Love (2019) is published by Ignota Books. Recent publications include ‘A Basket Woven of One’s Own Hair’ in The Hythe; ‘Following Ten Million Dinner Parties’ in Flatness; a ‘Memo on Multiplicity’ inFrieze; and ‘Notes on a Means without End’ in Poetry Review. In Spring 2020, Ramayya was Poet in Residence for the group exhibition Many voices, all of them loved at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.
Dr Nat Raha is a poet and activist-scholar, based in Edinburgh. She is the author of three collections and numerous pamphlets of poetry, including of sirens, body & faultlines (Boiler House Press, 2018), countersonnets (Contraband Books, 2013), Octet (Veer Books, 2010) and ‘four dreams’ (Earthbound Press, 2020). Her creative and critical writing has appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly, Third Text, Poetry Review, Gutter, and The New Feminist Literary Studies; and in the 2020 anthologies ON CARE, The Weird Folds: Everyday Poems from the Anthropocene, What the Fire Sees: A Divided Reader and We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics. Nat is a Research Fellow on the project ‘Life Support: Forms of Care in Art and Activism’ at the University of St Andrews. She co-edits Radical Transfeminism Zine.