This chapter considers the prospects for the next generation of British black and British Asian poets in the light of significant changes that are affecting the publishing industry. These changes affecting the publishing industry are the rise of social media, the development of new technologies and, less hearteningly, significantly diminished publishing opportunities for such poets. The chapter aims to understand the politics of literary approbation and to gain insights into the extent to which this approbation relates to the cultural politics of belonging to multiracial Britain. The chapter provides some insight, with a particular focus on the challenges faced by Manchester's black and Asian poets, into the role played by Manchester's independent publishing houses. It also provides an insight to the city's complementary tradition of 'live literature' and proud history of self-publishing in creating and sustaining the city's distinctive literary scene.
Manchester’s poetry in performance (1960s to the present)
This chapter focuses on poetry's 'infinite delivery' in the form of landmark poems on Manchester's buildings, pavements and walkways. It examines what Manchester's poetry in performance tells us about the dominant critical pretexts for literary approbation in Britain. Manchester's poetry in performance is often informal and neighbourly in tone and it frequently engages with local history and politics. The chapter considers the wider significance of such expression, exploring what the devolved aesthetics and poetics of the city's poetry reveal about the cultural politics of belonging and exclusion in multiracial Britain. The chapter evokes the figure of 'the neighbour' as a compelling metaphor to describe black poets' relationship with contemporary English poetry. The focus on the neighbour allows the chapter to concentrate both on the cultural politics of belonging and on the extent to which black Mancunian poets and their white counterparts may be considered as 'compatriots in craft'.
Manchester and the devolution of British literary culture
Corinne Fowler and Lynne Pearce
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book outlines a devolved model of English literature, and its associated cultural practices, in more detail. It features an unusually broad demographic of authors and texts emanating from the various diasporic communities and representing a wide range of religious affiliations. Close attention to both diasporic and devolved literary cultures can add to our existing understanding of, in Susheila Nasta's words, 'the extent to which our visions of the national have been built on migrant and diasporic, colonial and postcolonial identities'. The book explores Manchester writers' imaginative, and often critical, engagements with the 'external geography' of one of Britain's great northern cities. It focuses on writers' collective exploration of the ways in which the city's refugees and immigrants have, together, integrated Manchester into the world. Such an exploration is strikingly apparent in much of Lemn Sissay's poetry.
In 2008, the 'Moving Manchester' project received an enquiry from a local radio producer in connection with a programme about Eastern European migration to Manchester. A nineteenth-century suburb of Manchester, was transformed by immigrant Asian restauranteurs into nearly a mile of neon-lit restaurants, thereby utilizing old Victorian housing to counter the economic malaise of post-industrial Manchester. However, nothing counters the nation's obsession with the supposed newness of immigration as much as Manchester's graveyards. Manchester's graveyards have inspired several of the city's writers to consider the significance of place to the interment of skulls, ribs and femurs in local soil. With regards to Manchester's future as Europe's flagship 'migrant' city, immigration policies are already having a negative impact on the daily lives of the city's diasporic communities in terms of increased personal and institutional racism and obstructions to international travel.
Postcolonial Manchester offers a radical new perspective on Britain's devolved literary cultures by focusing on Manchester's vibrant, multicultural literary scene. This book presents the North West of England as quintessential 'diaspora space' and contributes to a better understanding of the region in social, cultural and aesthetic terms. It examines the way in which stories, poems and plays set in locales such as 'the Curry Mile' and Moss Side, have attempted to reshape Manchester's collective visions. The book features a broad demographic of authors and texts emanating from different diasporic communities and representing a wide range of religious affiliations. Manchester's black and Asian writers have struggled to achieve recognition within the literary mainstream, partly as a result of exclusion from London-centric, transnational publishing houses. Manchester's unfortunate reputation as one of Britain's 'crime capitals' is analysed by the use of fiction to stretch and complicate more popular explanations. A historical overview of Manchester's literary anthologies is presented through a transition from a writing that paid tribute to political resistance to more complex political statements, and focuses on the short story as a literary mode. The book combines close readings of some of the city's best-known performance poets such as Lemn Sissay and SuAndi with analysis of the literary cultures that have both facilitated and challenged their art. The book affords readers the opportunity to hear many of the chapter authors 'in their own words' by reflecting on how they themselves in terms of the literary mainstream and their identities.