Ambit Magazine reviews Place Waste Dissent

Place Waste Dissent is poetry, collage, artist’s book, historical document, political tract. It draws a straight line of folk art from the ‘green man’ of pagan mythology to the DIY zine culture that it emerges from. The book-as-object tells you that it’s different the moment you see it, with heavy black edged pages, thick to cope with the weight of ink poured into each sheet. Strips of cut-out text are pasted over photographs of the protest. The result is an absolute mass of information coming at you.’

George Jackson reviewed my new book Place Waste Dissent for Ambit Magazine. Read it in full here.

Place Waste Dissent live at #sanctumbristol

Andrew Neil Hayes filmed me reading from Place Waste Dissent at #Sanctumbristol on Friday November 6th. Sanctum hosts a continuous programme of sound over 552 hours, sustained by performers, musicians and bands in a temporary structure within the shell of Temple Church, Bristol. Sanctum is Theaster Gates’ first public project in the UK, produced by Situations, as part of Bristol 2015 European Green Capital. Big thanks to Sanctum and Andrew Neil Hayes.

Place Waste Dissent is available from Influx Press price £9.99 + p&p worldwide here

There are more on the VIDEO page.


Blight by John Smith

Blight was made in collaboration with composer Jocelyn Pook. It revolves around the building of the M11 Link Road in East London, which provoked a long and bitter campaign by local residents to protect their homes from demolition. Until 1994, when our houses were destroyed, both the composer and I lived on the route of this road. The images in the film are a selective record of some of the changes which occurred in the area over a two-year period, from the demolition of houses through to the start of motorway building work. The soundtrack incorporates natural sounds associated with these events together with speech fragments taken from recorded conversations with local people. Although the film is entirely constructed from records of real events, Blight is not a straightforward documentary. The film constructs stories from unconnected fragments of sound and image, bringing disparate reminiscences and contemporary events together. Like much of my earlier work, Blight exploits the ambiguities of its material to produce new meanings and metaphors, fictionalizing reality through framing and editing strategies. The emotive power of music is used in the film to overtly aid this invention, investing mundane images with artificial importance. A specific ‘real’ context for the depicted events only becomes apparent at the end of the film. What is presented is simultaneously fact and fiction.”

—John Smith

Place Waste Dissent – pantomime horse accused of direct action

I’ve been looking through the archive of photographs of film maker/photographer Julia Guest in Bristol last week. Julia has kindly given me access to a real treasure trove of images from life in Claremont Road, and the No M11 Link Road campaign; there are many stunning images that I will be using in Place Waste Dissent, with her kind permission.

In fact the next phase of the book is about to start. I’m awaiting feedback and input from my Influx Press editor, Gary Budden, before making any final edits on the manuscript, before starting the process of putting text/image together for typesetting. I’ve a huge archive of images to work with, as well as upwards of 120 pages of text. The next phase in the project is going to be challenging and exciting.

I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been able to read from the manuscript at a number of venues in London and Bristol, as well as take part in some Q & A sessions with other Influx Press writers/poets afterwards. This has been invaluable in gauging how the poems feel when read; how they roll around the head and out of my mouth is so very different to reading them at home to myself, or to my partner Sarer. There’s plenty of work stiil to do . . . and, I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to the books publication October time this year. Gary & Kit Caless at Influx have been amazing to work with; their boundless energy, enthusiasm and resourcefulness has been inspiring to the shaping of the book. We have some exciting plans for launchiing Place Waste Dissent this autumn.

Here’s a  photo from Julia’s archive from 1996 involving a pantomime horse.

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20 years today – The Munstonia eviction 20/6/94

Twenty years ago today. The eviction of Munstonia, the last house of hundreds in the path of the M11 Link Road through Leyton, Leytonstone and Wanstead. Here are the unedited rushes from the day from Neil Goodwin, with special thanks to photographer and film-maker Julia Guest for her crucial input in making this.

Here’s the story from Danny Penman from 21st June 1994 in The Independent newspaper.

“More than 150 police, bailiffs and security guards pitted themselves against 60 protesters who had barricaded themselves into a derelict house to protest against the new road. The house had been completely gutted and walls and windows reinforced with wood and steel in anticipation of the siege.
When police arrived yesterday morning they had to battle through a quarter mile traffic jam. Spotters had warned the protesters that a convoy of 14 police vans was en route to evict them. They responded by setting up a road block made from rubbish, shopping trolleys and kitchen units.
The traffic quickly built up, giving the activists time to man their defences. They first pulled up a drawbridge which formed the only link to the three-storey house over a shallow moat. The staircase behind the door was then filled with tons of rubble, giving bailiffs little chance of entering.
Bailiffs were also faced with sheer 30ft boarded-up walls and windows. The pinnacle of their defences was the 30ft tower perched precariously atop the house. The bailiffs spent several hours trying to dig through the rubble-filled staircase and finally gained entry to the first floor only to find that the defenders had fled to the second floor and sealed themselves in. Another hour was wasted while the bailiffs attempted to reach the second floor.
Eventually a hydraulic digger was brought in to rip open a window. After the second floor of the house was taken the protesters fled to the roof and tower where about 10 chained their arms to steel hooks embedded in concrete as police and bailiffs scaled the back of the house.
Simultaneously two “cherry picking” platforms were brought in to pluck protesters from the rooftop. Generators and pneumatic drills were then brought up to cut free the protesters who had locked their arms to the steel loops. The tower was then quickly fell to the bailiffs. The protesters regard Munstonia, as the house was dubbed because of its creepy appearance, as a bonus. The main battle to stop the road was fought at Claremont Road last November. But the anti-M11 campaigners retook the house, which sits on a stretch of wasteland about a mile from Claremont Road, in April following a security lapse. The Department of Transport was granted a possession order in May. The Metropolitan Police pronounced the eviction a success. ‘There’s been no animosity at all and it’s all gone according to plan with everything happening the way we expected it,’ said a spokeswoman.
The protesters vowed to continue their campaign against the road by occupying stretches of the construction site and chaining themselves to machinery.
‘Now we can go on the offensive because we have nothing left to defend,’ one protester said.”

Place Waste Dissent on Resonance FM

Paul was special guest on Jude Cowan-Montague’s Resonance FM show The News Agents yesterday with poet Sarer Scotthorne (they co-run Hesterglock Press). Paul talked exclusively about road protesting, Dolly Watson, the No M11 Link Road campaign, Place Waste Dissent and also read a new poem from the book, due to be published in October, this henry ford model. Jude played three poems from his last collection Contumacy that were specially recorded for her show. You can listen below.

The News Agents - 21st March 2015 by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

New photos of Claremont Road from Steve Ryan

All photos of Claremont Road ©Steve Ryan – Steve is a very old friend of mine who I met in Claremont Road in 1990. We’ve been good mates ever since. He has shared a whole bunch of his own photos from back then, as well as stories, which I’ll no doubt draw upon in the book.

Claremont street party. Stilts

Our old mini and children's mural

doorstep at 26


Studio@22 a

Paying tribute to Claremont Road, E11, the State of the Art, 20 years on.

Paying tribute to Claremont Road, E11, the State of the Art, 20 years on. To all who were born, died and lived there. To those who fought to save it from roadbuilding madness. Back in 1994 this quiet East London backstreet played host to one of the longest and most expensive, and certainly the most ecclectic and colourful evictions in British history.

Published on YouTube on 3 Dec 2014 by Neil Goodwin, co-director of the documentary film Life in the Fast Lane – The No M11 Story, artist & activist

Tribute to Old Mick – Winter Mist by Jay Terrestrial & Firepit Collective

Winter Mist is the first track from Jay Terrestrial & Firepit Collective’s debut studio album, To The Lost. Winter Mist is a tribute to the environmental protesters of the 1990’s and beyond. Also to the memory of an inspirational man known as Old Mick, who squatted in Claremont Road… thanks to my editor at Influx Press, Gary Budden for the heads up…