Militant Thistles

polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"

atos Poor Doors Sheriff Stars spikes

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle bedroom tax Disrupt and Upset


By Alan Morrison, Sep 5 2015 01:57PM

About Militant Thistles

Since The Recusant/Caparison’s pioneering anti-austerity poetry anthologies, Emergency Verse – Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State (2010/11), and The Robin Hood Book – Verse Versus Austerity (2011/2012), there has been something of a sustained and mushrooming depth-charge of political-polemical poetry in the UK.

Fitting, since we are in a decade effectively twinned with the 1930s, a decade during which there was an explosion of political poetry (from the likes of Auden, Spender, Day Lewis, MacNeice, Wintringham, Cornford, Lindsay, Caudwell etc.) –and, indeed, prose polemic, through Victor Gollancz’ Left Book Club (recently and fittingly revived by Pluto Press; as has been that other Thirties-born bastion of erudite publishing for the masses, Pelican). Surprising, since, in spite of today’s toxic politics, we are nevertheless at the tail-end of a two-decade-long apolitical postmodernist hegemony in mainstream poetry.

Since the flag was raised with Emergency Verse in direct response to Chancellor Osborne’s epoch-crushing ‘Emergency Budget’, back in June 2010, there’s been a steady rupture of more openly political poetry: through the Morning Star’s ‘Well Versed’ columns; Mike Quille's 'Soul Food' columns in the Communist Review; a number of ‘high profile’ poetry collections at least ostensibly addressing contemporary socio-political issues, as well as many more authentic publications (through such presses as Smokestack Books, Waterloo Press, The Penniless Press, Red Squirrel et al); and many other political poetry anthologies and online campaigns, such as Poems for Freedom, Fit for Work: Poets Against Atos, Campaign in Poetry, and, more recently, the post-election poetry blogsite, New Boots and Pantisocracies, and the promptly ‘on-the-pulse’ Poets for Corbyn.

Contrapuntal to this upsurge in polemical poetry, permanent ports of such output, such as The Penniless Press, The International Times, and our own The Recusant, have continued to incrementally chip away at the disingenuous and specious politics and rhetoric of established right-wing hegemonies.

Militant Thistles is The Recusant/Caparison’s latest venture, which is essentially an online continuation of the outpouring of polemical poetry which our two previous e- and print anthologies brought to a significant readership. It is our intention to continue to publish polemical poems –and, if they are submitted, monographs– on a regular basis through the next five years of solo Tory rule.

We aim to remain thistles in the consciences (if they have any!) of our current Etonian rulers at Westminster for the duration of what will undoubtedly prove to be a socially corrosive reign of the blue torch (or torched oak).

We hope all sympathetic poets and polemicists will contribute to our campaign to keep oppositional poetry up on a public platform –or portal– for as long as we have to suffer the deeply divisive and discriminatory policies of unreconstructed Toryism.

Alan Morrison

September 2015

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