Monday, May 16, 2011

BIRMINGHAM STREETPOEMS (1972)

(BIRMINGHAM) STREETPOEMS


Streetpoems was another initiative by Streetpress and a fine looking magazine it was, produced at the Birmingham Arts Lab and printed by Moss Side Press in Manchester.

After initial contact with the Birminham Streetpress in 1972 I got a letter from Streetpress to say they had developed a new magazine specialising in poetry, called STREETPOEMS. I hitched down the M6 to Moseley only to find they guys that ran it lived the other side of Brum in Bearwood. Not to worry, they would give me a lift.Scared stiff as I am of motorbikes, I found myself clinging for life to the seat as we rushed along the ringroads of Brum.

In their own words...
"Streetpoems was started with the idea that there's a little bit of poetry in everyone. You don't always see it and if you're in the publishing business sometimes you have to coax it out of people. Not everything we've put into print so far has been 'excellent' poetry, destined for the halls of fame, but that's not the point of our magazine. Streetpoems is interested in a whle range  of styles and scribblings which tend to be ignored by more established and sophisticated publications. In other words , a lot of what we've published so far has been written by people who wouldn't call themselves poets or writers, but they still have something to say in their own way. Our intention is to provide them with an audience."

The layouts were out of this world too and I still rate them even in this digital age with cool 'Spot Graphics' by Tony Viney and, like Streetpress itself, had the Large Cow Comix by Hunt Emerson.  Streetpoems continued up to, I think, 1977. The Arts Lab would float the magazine until enough copies were sold to pay for the printing. It was put together by Derek Kitchen, John Keetley, Mick d'Pembroke, Roland and Sue, Paul Fischer and Martin Reading (although that list may not be relevant for every issue.)

Roland and Sue were very supportive of our developing Coventry activities and I took copies of Streetpoems around the Coventry. With the demise of Broadgate Gnome in 1971 there was a need for another Coventry magazine that would act as a central focus and promote events and creativity. As I went around selling Streetpress and Streetpoems I knew we had to create one in Coventry even though money and resources weren't as easily available as in Birmingham. Also at that stage I'd never produced a magazine before and to learn new skills.

Meanwhile Roland was also a musicians and like my poems. I never had any in Streetpoems but Roland worked on one of my lyrics - All the Hell of the Fair which I'd written after going to the fair on Hearsall Common in Coventry.

Extract - "Shoot your blues away on a sixpenny shotgun
               Win a coconut and blow your mind.
               I wander by in my helter-skelter confusion.
               Ponder at the scenes life puts me through.

              All the pain of the fair
              All the hell of the fair...."

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