This article explores the reception and transformation of William Blake’s countercultural legacy by focusing on the neo-Romantic resurgences within maelstrÖm reEvolution, an experimental performance and arts collective based in Brussels but with heavy transnational affiliations. In relation to the company’s neo-shamanic and therapeutic conception of poiesis, Blake is an inspirational figure amongst a broader family of mentors ranging from Beat Generation writers to Arthur Rimbaud and Alexandro Jodorowsky. The Blake–maelstrÖm connection is here examined for the first time. Blending classical reception studies with a broader interest in the intersections between poiesis and the ‘sacred’, this article approaches countercultural Blake as the archetypal embodiment of the shamanic poet. More specifically, it reflects on how, as the poet of ‘double-edged madness’ and ‘Spiritual Strife’, Blake’s subversion of alienation into ecstasy feeds maelstrÖm’s own ‘therapoetic’ experimentalism and psycho-aesthetic endeavours to restore the lines of communication between the ‘visible’ and the ‘invisible’.
Celebrated as a leader of London’s ‘Underground’ in the 1960–70s, and a leading British poet and performance artist of his time, Jeff Nuttall found fame through his critique of post-nuclear culture, Bomb Culture, which provided an influential rationale for artistic practice through absurdism but lost that recognition a decade or so later. Less well recognised, and with greater influence, is the distinctively visceral sensibility underlying much of his creative work, notably his poetry that draws on Dylan Thomas and the Beat Movement, his graphic drawing and luscious painting styles, and his pioneering performance art. This article argues that it is through these artistic expressions of visceral intelligence that Jeff Nuttall’s art and its long-term influence can now best be understood. It is intended to complement the Jeff Nuttall Papers in the Special Collections of The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, University of Manchester, deposited by the gallerist and poetry publisher Robert Bank (1941–2015), to whose memory this article is dedicated. Further papers have been added by Nuttall’s friends and relatives.