Working-class artists continue to be hugely underrepresented in the arts industries, though they make up a third of the British population. These professions are already notoriously hard to get into, but working class artists face extra challenges, from unpaid work reinforcing social disparity, to prejudice. How do we break this cycle of inequality in the arts? In Smashing It, leading musicians, playwrights, visual artists, filmmakers and writers share how they overcame obstacles, from the financial to the philosophical, to make it in the arts.

Edited by acclaimed poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, it celebrates the achievements of working class artists in Britain, from the … More

Marking Stephanie Gaunt’s 70th Birthday, this collection of her poems evokes memories of an unusual childhood and explores a full and eventful life. Raised by eccentric parents in a household of dogs, Stephanie lived and worked in London & Birmingham before moving to Hastings. As well as writing poetry & exploring Hastings, she is an active member of the W.I., & is kept busy with her popular on-line blog alter-ego The Hastings Battleaxe.

Sales of the book will benefit three charities: The Sara Lee Trust, Riding for the Disabled (RDA), and Queen Alexandra … More

Born OTD in 1952, Jamaican dub poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson. What is the relationship between poetry and social change? Standing at the forefront of political poetry since the 1970s, Linton Kwesi Johnson has been fighting neo-fascism, police violence and promoting socialism while putting pen to paper to refute W.H. Auden’s claim that ‘poetry makes nothing happen’. For Johnson, only the second living poet to have been published in the Penguin Modern Classics series, writing has always been ‘a political act’ and poetry ‘a cultural weapon’.

In Dread Poetry and Freedom – the first book dedicated to the work of this ‘political poet par excellence’ – … More

Born OTD in 1920, German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer, Charles Bukowski. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambiance of his home city of Los Angeles. A nicely produced edition bringing together the collected wisdom of the legendary Charles Bukowski, illustrated with photographs and line drawings and containing a free CD of the man himself speaking in New Orleans in 1970. Each page features Buk’s take on a variety of different aspects of modern life, including women, cats, & loneliness, with each accompanied by a mix of photographs, sketches and cool international book covers. While short, every page is golden and there’s enough quotable material in here to satiate even the most diehard Bukowski fan. Also included is an bootleg audio CD, ‘Happy Hour’, which is a live poetry reading from a New Orleans appearance in 1970.

ZIne & CD combo available in store and online £7.99.

Happy Birthday to the fantastic Salena Godden!! Springfield Road is a journey into childhood in the late 1970s, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish n chips in newspaper, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers. Set in the dawn of Thatcher’s Britain, it’s a salute to every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid with NHS glasses, free school dinners & hand-me- downs, as told by the daughter of an Irish jazz musician and a Jamaican go-go dancer. It’s about discovering that life is unfair, that there are bullies out there, and that parents die; yet it is the very antithesis of a misery memoir.

It’s a vivid, uplifting tale that seeks out the humour, colour and tenderness in the world, and when you read … More

Born OTD in 1926, American poet, philosopher and writer, Allen Ginsberg. He is considered to be one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation during the 1950s and the counterculture that soon followed. Ginsberg is best known for his poem “Howl”, in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. In 1956, “Howl” was seized by San Francisco police and US Customs. In 1957, it attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it described heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every U.S. state.

Visionary poet Allen Ginsberg was one of the most influential cultural and literary figures of the 20th century, his face … More

Available now in paperback, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah. Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art & his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 80s when punks & Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness & the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations & on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, & to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books.

His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the … More

Born OTD in 1939, Irish poet, playwright and translator, Seamus Heaney. The poems in Seamus Heaney’s collection The Spirit Level keep discovering the possibilities of ‘a new beginning’ in all kinds of subjects and circumstances. What is at stake, in poem after poem, is the chance of buoyancy and balance, physical, spiritual and political. Private memories, classical scenes, humble domestic objects – a whitewash brush, a sofa, a swing – are endowed with talismanic significance, while friends and relatives are invoked for their promise and steadfastness.

Throughout the collection, Heaney addresses his concerns, which inevitably include the political situation in his native Northern Ireland, in a … More

Pre-order Benjamin Zephaniah’s autobiography out soon in paperback, here. Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art & his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness & the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations & on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, & to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books.

His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the … More