Rewiring History

I’m excited (and mildly daunted) that next week we’ll be opening submissions for Other Countries, the anthology that Claire Trévien and I are co-editing as part of the Rewiring History project.

It’s also coming up for a year since I started this blog, without which I wouldn’t have got involved with the anthology or the project. I didn’t know Claire when I reviewed her collection The Shipwrecked House, but she liked the review and let me twist her arm into taking part in last year’s Jericho Tavern reading. Several conversations later Claire shared her idea for an anthology – one of those rare, genuine gaps in the market – and the rest is soon to be (rewired) history.

We’re putting together an anthology where the best of today’s poets engage with and re-present the past. Other books have already done a good job with contemporaneous historical poems (history written by those who lived through/alongside it) or asking today’s poets to respond to a narrow slice of the past (with at least some of them not about WW1). But we’re interested in how today’s poets respond to any version of history: any period, any theme, any viewpoint, any style. Poets engage with the past in endlessly creative ways (it’s somewhere between a necessity and an occupational hazard) and we want to showcase the best of this in fresh and challenging ways. In particular we want the voices that got lost or silenced; the truths the official version left out; alternative viewpoints that challenge and rewire all our yesterdays.

The project inspires me for lots of reasons: because I enjoy smashing up crusted orthodoxies to see the glints of treasure underneath; because I’m an incurable modernist who believes with Eliot that true poets feel the presence of the past as much as its “pastness”; because Claire has done some seriously innovative stuff and it’s exciting to be part of one of her projects; because I can’t wait to see the variety of great work that’s out there; because I know that however this unfolds it will be different from what I expect. Because it hasn’t been done before and is crying out to be done.

So: submissions will be open from the 1st May until 30th June. You can find out more on the project’s website. Please spread the word, and please submit your poems.

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