A Whistle-stop Tour of the Life of a Working-Class Hero: Five minutes with the editors of 'Ten Years on the Parish'.

Posted on April 28, 2017 by Heather Gallagher

We sat down with Co-Director of Writing on the Wall Festival Mike Morris, Tony Wailey and Andrew Davies, editors of Ten Years on the Parish to learn more about working-class hero George Garrett ahead of the May Day parade in celebration of his life.


Can you tell us a bit more about George Garrett and give a quick overview of his life?

TW: Essentially, you can divide Garrett’s life into five periods; 1896-1926, 1926-1936, 1936-1946 and 1946-1961, which was when he retired.  For the first thirty years he was a seaman and traveller all over the world during the first world war, but mainly in the United States.  So that’s where he got his radical ideas. Between 1926-1936 was his most creative literary period, when he was actually writing his short stories and the autobiography.  Between 1936-1946 he set up the Unity theatre and was involved in radical dramatisations all across Merseyside and then between 1946-1961 he was periodically writing for the Liverpool Echo but most of his time he was working on a tug on the river Mersey and on Manchester Ship Canal.


What is it about Ten Years on the Parish that makes a valuable contribution to the history of Liverpool?

AD: I guess it’s not just the history but it’s the geography of Garrett for me. He’s really an important figure in bringing together a whole host of different traditions, particularly with regards to his understanding of internationalist perspectives from his travel around the Atlantic. He brings all of that through a very particular lens of understanding what was going on in Liverpool at the time and writing about things he was seeing on a day to day basis. Things like poverty, inequality, injustice, and writing about that from a perspective that was not just about a local idea of what was going on. It was about challenging bigger systems, about the nature of inequality, and the nature of capitalism which he sees as this thing that drives a lot of inequality, and, how that feeds through into wider systemic things which, for me as a geographer and a historian of empire, shows he was drawing out some of those connections about the inequality of imperialism at a time when racial inequality was rife within the city. He brings together a whole host of different theoretical topics in a way that a lot of people at the time weren’t doing, people weren’t thinking across those divides in the way that he was. 


Could you tell us about Garrett’s encounter with George Orwell and the influence this had on the work of Orwell?

MM:  Well, he was recommended to George Garrett by a friend, who was more part of a literary scene, to show him around Liverpool and show him the conditions and various aspects of Liverpool’s life. He met George Garrett in February 1936 and he takes him down to the docks and he shows him the hiring stands and people queuing and bustling for work and then they stayed up all night talking about literature and radical activities. Then the next day he showed George Orwell around Liverpool’s housing. Council housing was being built in Liverpool at that point, it had a big effect upon Orwell, who wasn’t the Orwell we know now in many senses, he wasn’t the literary giant, it was early days for him. He was seen as a bit of a poverty tourist from the point of view of working class writers who lived what they wrote about. Orwell throughout his life made strenuous efforts to get very close to that, for example in Down and Out in Paris and London, and The Road to Wigan Pier. But Garrett’s editor notes how Orwell’s nose almost turned up at the smell, with those encounters of working class life whereas Garrett was part and parcel of the life and understood and experienced it on a daily basis. When Orwell brought out The Road to Wigan Pier which was based upon his encounters with Garrett and many other people throughout the country, Garrett’s response was that it was like one long sneer, particularly the second part, in his opinion.  He said he thought he caught some of the conditions well but said that one of his responses to The Road to Wigan Pier was that he wanted to write a book about unemployment that really showed how it was. So, interestingly, there were two sides to the encounter between them. What’s interesting is that Orwell was a very educated man, and Garrett wasn’t phased by him. He was extremely educated in himself and was able to sit up all night and debate literature and radical ideas with him. He was then published alongside Orwell in various magazines of the day.

TW: I think that the most important point there was the very fact that Garrett wanted to write his own version of events and this is what we’ve got before us.


Ahead of the May Day parade, could you tell us the significance of having George Garrett as the figure head? We believe there’s going to be a five metre model.

MM:  In 1921 and 1922, Garrett led the unemployed marches around Liverpool which led to reforms in terms of welfare benefits and payments and the benefits system over all. He then led the hunger march from Liverpool to London in 1922 which also forced changes from the point of view of welfare payments and how the unemployed were treated. So, we thought it would be a fitting launch for our festival which is themed ‘Revolution’ and for Garrett’s Ten Years on the Parish to be launched with a May Day parade. We wanted to include George in that and we wanted to recognise George’s varied interest and how he welded together and integrated his radicalism, his writing and drama. On the hunger march to London in 1922, he organised a mock funeral for what was called ‘bully beef’. This was beef fed to soldiers in the trenches at war, which they hated. On the march, they went to Rugby and they were given bully beef so they protested against it, a prop- theatrical protest. They did this funeral march and he made a speech dressed as a priest and they buried the bully beef. So, we decided that we would like to recreate that and have George within the march itself. We commissioned Brian Hanlon, an experienced model maker from Liverpool to build a five-metre-high model of George based upon the hunger march. The suit he’s wearing is pinstriped and the volunteers included in the project have written on those pinstripes texts from Ten Years on the Parish. It’s a very political statement and embodies everything that Garrett’s done for us. It’s grown out from there and captured the imagination of people, we’ve got theatre taking place throughout the march, we’ve got dancers, drummers, LIPA’s cast of Made in Dagenham are performing as well as a young hip-hop artist Blue Saint and his spoken word artist Dorcas Seb. They are creating their own version of two songs that Garrett wrote for the unemployed demonstrations back in 1922.

What we’re doing with the parade is recognising the historical importance of Garrett, and the notion that work and his writing is very contemporary and addresses issues that people are suffering with today such as unemployment, austerity, the way people are being treated in the benefit system. So the whole idea of it is to bring together people from diverse communities in Liverpool, from the trade union movement, cultural organisations, the universities, to both highlight these issues and have a celebration of the life of one of Liverpool’s most significant figures and certainly, as John Lucas the professor at Trent University said, one of the most significant working class writers of his generation. 


Writing on the Wall Festival will see the launch of Ten Years on the Parish at the May Day parade - 1st of May, 12:30pm outside Toxteth Library. Follow #WoWFest2017 on twitter to find out more on local events throughout the month of May. 

For more information on Ten Years on the Parish please visit our website.


Follow us for more updates and sign up to our mailing list

Continue reading →

Journal of Romance Studies: Editor's Choice

Posted on April 25, 2017 by Megan Ainsworth
The Journal of Romance Studies, published in association with the Institute of Modern Languages Research, will be published by Liverpool University Press from 2017.

To celebrate, the editor has chosen a selection of some of the most notable and influential articles from the journal’s history, which Liverpool University Press is delighted to make available free of charge online for a limited time.

Please click on the article title below to download your free PDF.

‘Forgetting Africa’
Johannes Fabian
Volume 1, Issue 3, 2001

‘Acceptable hospitality: from Rousseau’s Levite to the strangers in our midst today’
Judith Still
Volume 3, Issue 2, 2003

‘High anxiety: Abre los ojos/Vanilla Sky’
Paul Julian Smith
Volume 4, Issue 1, 2004

‘Historical trauma and literary testimony: writing and repetition in the Buchenwald memoirs of Jorge Semprun’
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Volume 4, Issue 2, 2004

‘Women in dialogue and in solitude’
Michèle Le Doeuff
Volume 5, Issue 2, 2005

‘Psychoanalysis and the aesthetic subject’
Leo Bersani
Volume 6, Issue 3, 2006

‘Cinematic city: the Spanish avant-garde, modernity and mass culture’
Jo Labanyi
Volume 8, Issue 2, 2008

‘Antinomies of citizenship’
Étienne Balibar
Volume 10, Issue 2, 2010

‘Shifting borders’
Paulo de Medeiros
Volume 11, Issue 1, 2011

‘Representations of the Islamic community in Italy 2001–2011’
Charles Burdett
Volume 13, Issue 1, 2013

Continue reading →

In conversation with Nuar Alsadir on 'Fourth Person Singular'

Posted on April 21, 2017 by Heather Gallagher

To celebrate the release of Pavilion Poetry's three new collections for 2017, and in the run up to the official launch, we have a series of exciting interviews to share with you. This week, Natalie Bolderston is in conversation with poet, writer, and psychoanalyst Nuar Alsadir, on her brand new collection Fourth Person Singular

 Fourth Person Singular


1) Could you explain the title of your collection, Fourth Person Singular?

There was a period during which I was trying to figure out what kind of speaker to use in my poems. I was grappling with the recognition that even though I’d developed an aversion to confessional poetry, the poems I found moving, which served as my measure of a poem’s value, were invariably lyric, written in the first person and addressed—as is all speech—to a second person, whether circumscribed or implied. I spent the bulk of my waking hours trying to work out this problem until one night, during sleep, my dream voice said, “The fourth person singular exists in the fourth dimension.” I woke up and immediately began attempting to decode that fragment by researching the fourth dimension (I have a background in neuroscience, so the task was not as daunting as it may have otherwise been). Amazingly, through the lens of four-dimensional space-time, it is possible to grasp the meaning of the fourth person singular. There’s a lyric essay in my book that explains what I came up with.


2) In that essay, you discuss physics, with particular focus on four-dimensional space-time. What are the challenges of this?

I suppose the biggest challenge would be that the ideas might seem too difficult, alien, causing the reader to disconnect. But that’s always a concern with science and math, which are often shrouded with so many associations of impenetrability that it can be difficult to step back and allow the beauty to come through—as one might be more able or willing to do with a complex piece of music. 


3) Can you tell us a bit about how your background as a psychoanalyst feeds into your writing?

I am endlessly fascinated by the mind, how it draws associations, redacts, displaces, represses, moves. The most useful sessions occur when the analysand does not have an agenda or subject and allows themselves to simply free-associate. In doing so, the mind will invariably come upon something significant that the analyst will ideally recognize, point out, so that it can be explored. That free association is similar to improvisation in dance. The improvisation is necessary to figure out how the body is organized and moves, but eventually certain gestures will stand out, demand interrogation, and become the basis of the choreography of a piece. The choreography may appear improvised because of where it originated, but is, in fact, carefully crafted.  I hope my writing similarly retains that free associative, improvisational impulse even as the choreography of the book is consciously set.


4) Throughout the book, you make use of a range of poetic forms and intertextual references. As a writer, do you have any particular influences – literary or otherwise?

The poetic forms reflect the shape of the gestures or thoughts propelled by that free associative, improvisational impulse I just mentioned. As for influences, I’m really more of a thinker than a reader. When I read, I like reading poetry, aphorisms, philosophy, theory—texts that I can read very little of and then think about, off-page, for hours. As I turn over phrases, images or ideas in my mind, I invariably alter them. In the book, I’ve used the altered forms—representing my Franz Kafka, or my André Breton—and have then provided the correct version in the notes. All of the texts I reference in my book are important to me, but I’d have to say the greatest influence on my writing is quotidian experience. I’m probably as inspired by what happens on the subway as I am by what happens within texts. There’s a great line in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, “I’ve been around the world several times and now only banality still interests me… I’ve tracked it with the relentlessness of a bounty hunter.” Virginia Woolf has that relentlessness, as does Larry David, Tracey Emin. I can think of many contemporary poets whom I’d consider bounty hunters in that same way.


5) In one of your lyric essays, you reveal the process behind creating your 'night fragments': waking up at 3:15 a.m. each night, and writing down whatever was at the top of your mind. Do you have any other processes or rituals that help you to write?

Marianne Moore once wrote, “We must have the courage of our peculiarities.” That precept guides my process. I’m open to letting my peculiarities reveal themselves, and to exploring whatever sense of shame that revelation might evoke. In psychoanalysis, there’s no subject matter or material that is higher or lower than any other. I approach poetry in a similar way. 


6) The collection features striking illustrations, photographs and references to visual artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and Marlene Dumas. How do you think poetry relates to or complements visual art?

I’ve always wished my poems could be experienced as art installations, so that the reader could enter and experience them without the linear unfolding created by reading across and down the page. I’ve tried to disrupt that linear unfolding somewhat with simultaneous texts, but the dimensional limitations of the page are unavoidable. The mind doesn’t have thoughts, see images, hear, smell, perceive in tidy succession—that cacophonous chaos, which visual arts often capture so vividly, is exciting to me.


Click here to read an excerpt from Fourth Person Singular featured in Granta 


Nuar Alsadir Photo by Grace Yu (c)

Nuar Alsadir is a poet, writer and psychoanalyst. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Granta, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Grand Street, the Kenyon Review, tender, Poetry London and Poetry Review; and a collection of her poems, More Shadow Than Bird, was published by Salt in 2012. She is on the faculty at New York University, and works as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York. Her latest collection Fourth Person Singular can be found here



    Follow us on twitter, and sign up to our mailing list for updates on Pavilion Poetry 

    Continue reading →

    OLH and Liverpool University Press join to flip subscription journal open access

    Posted on April 20, 2017 by Clare Hooper

    We are extremely pleased to announce that the Open Library of Humanities has entered into a partnership with Liverpool University Press to convert the journal Quaker Studies from a subscription journal into a full, gold open-access journal.

    Quaker Studies is a highly respected inter- and multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal that has, according to one reviewer of the journal’s OLH application, “set the standard for this emergent field of scholarship” since its foundation in 1992. Quaker Studies is the official journal of the international Quaker Studies Research Association (QSRA), which is the umbrella organisation for all those studying, teaching, researching or connected with research into one of the areas of Quaker Studies. Since 2016, the journal has been published by Liverpool University Press (LUP) on behalf of the QSRA and it is also co-sponsored by the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies at Woodbrooke and the American Academy of Religion Quaker Studies Group.

    Independent peer review of the journal’s application to join the OLH platform reported that Quaker Studies “attracts contributions from highly respected influential scholars of Quakerism” and has published “consistently high quality” articles that have supported a “lively, diverse... forum for establishing and testing new developments in the field.” As one reviewer put it: “Reading Quaker Studies is far and away the best way to keep up with the scholarly literature on Quakerism.”

    Dr Caroline Edwards, co-founder and Editorial Director of the OLH, said of the new publishing partnership: “We’re so pleased to be able to partner with Liverpool University Press in opening up access to Quaker Studies. The journal has a prestigious history and is an essential publication within the international and highly interdisciplinary field of Quakerism. As such, the journal is of interest to a wide range of scholars working in the subject areas of aesthetics, anthropology, architecture, art, cultural studies, history, literature, peace studies, philosophy, research methodology, sociology, theology, and women’s studies.”

    Professor Martin Paul Eve, a co-founder and CEO of the OLH, added: “Quaker Studies joins the International Journal of Welsh Writing in English as the second subscription journal that the Open Library of Humanities has flipped to open access via a publishing partnership with a respected UK University Press. At OLH we’re proud to be working with like-minded publishers in securing an open access future for important humanities journals that have been restricted to subscription models until now. Liverpool UP already has a fantastic track record in working towards open access and it is great to be able to play a role in the furtherance of this goal.”

    Anthony Cond, Director of Liverpool University Press, said “The Open Library of the Humanities is a charitable organisation seeking to maximise access to peer-reviewed scholarship, as such it is an obvious partner for university presses worldwide.  Liverpool University Press is delighted to partner with OLH in extending the reach of Quaker Studies on behalf of the Quaker Studies Research Association, a move which reflects the Press’s commitment to supporting a range of models for dissemination and a tailored approach for every individual scholarly society LUP serves.”

    Professor 'Ben' Pink Dandelion, Editor of Quaker Studies, said “This is a very exciting moment for the journal and for Quaker studies as a whole. The new arrangement will be of great benefit to scholars worldwide, in Quaker studies and in the wider humanities. It is a reflection of the quality of the journal but also the innovative thinking of Liverpool University Press and the Open Library of Humanities and their commitment to academic publishing as a means to enhance top quality scholarship.”

    Liverpool University Press (LUP) is the UK’s third oldest university press, with a distinguished history of publishing exceptional research since 1899, including the work of Nobel prize winners. LUP has rapidly expanded in recent years, winning academic publisher of the year awards from both The Bookseller and the Independent Publishers Guild.  The Press now publishes 100 books a year and 28 journals, specialising in modern languages, history, classics and literary studies.

    The Open Library of Humanities is an academic-led, gold open-access publisher with no author-facing charges. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the platform covers its costs by payments from an international library consortium, rather than any kind of author fee.


    Follow us for more updates and sign up to our mailing list

    Continue reading →

    Town Planning Review 88.2: Featured Article

    Posted on April 11, 2017 by Megan Ainsworth

    The editors of TPR have selected 'The EU referendum, planning and the environment: where now for the UK?' by Richard Cowell as the Featured Article for the latest issue. It will be free to access for three months. You can access the article here.

    When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, the author stated the following:

    The UK’s departure from the European Union, or ‘Brexit’, is held up as a process with profound consequences for British society, the economy and the environment and so, by implication, for the world in which planning operates. Specifying those consequences is immensely difficult, however, given that factual information is limited; opinion is abundant but conflictual, often heatedly so. This article seeks to outline the likely effects on planning in the UK arising from Brexit, especially through the interface with environmental policy, drawing on the viewpoints of planning practitioners but also wider evidence of where, how, and how far planning British has been ‘Europeanised’.

    One key argument is that, actually some future scenarios for UK planning post-Brexit may be extrapolations of trends already powerfully at work, notably the prospect of further erosion of environmental constraints and procedural rights and the intensification of pro-growth policies. Other issues spotlighted by the EU referendum raise new questions. How will a surge in concerns about immigration, sovereignty and identity shape planning and environmental policy? As well as wrestling with the legal minutiae of the EU policy inheritance, UK planning and environmental bodies must figure out how to negotiate a world in which elites are mistrusted, the benefits of international collaboration are questioned, and ‘putting Britain first’ is a narrative with increased power.

    Continue reading →

    Scroll to top