Poetry Tour with Book London Undercurrents (Holland Park Press) by Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire

      What a lovely day in London! On Sunday, May 2019, I made a poetry tour to Holloway, Islington with a Londoner poet Joolz whose debut poetry collection written with Hilaire was out last March. As the subtitle The hidden histories of London’s unsung heroines, north and south of the river would suggest, the hidden women’s history appears in the book. The collection explores the presences and absences, the interplay of the present and the past – both visible and imagined based on her precise research on, sometimes, handwritten manuscripts in historical archives. She read aloud poems in the book relating to places for me.

(1) A poem ‘Hollywood Comes to Holloway’
      Our tour started from Holloway station (Piccadilly line). Along Holloway Road, we strolled. First, Joolz read the poem in front of the building the Holloway Odeon with her nostalgia to the architecture having an art deco outline. Around there, there had been a lot of theatres. However, very few remained, the street changed. I recall a film theatre Waseda Shochiku in Tokyo. ( http://wasedashochiku.co.jp/about ) 

(2) A poem ‘Permitted to Play’
      I first went to a football stadium in my life: Arsenal Football Stadium. I knew only the club name, sometimes only saw it on the Internet. In the short poem, a girl told her father about her desire to actually play football. Joolz’s words became a girl’s voice for begging her play in the wide field, “On telly, they only show the men’s./ Dad, when can I play for Arsenal? When?”, for women were permitted to play ‘on occasion’.

 (3) A poem ‘Regular Service’
      Hearing the short poem, in front of the building of the previous Jones Brothers department store, I imagined that a lot of working women and listened to the people’s hum rising up near the ceiling. Joolz’s abiding love for the architecture and shop staffs and customers passing through there.

      In addition, I could enjoy Joolz’s reading of poems ‘On the Way to See the Sex Pistols Play at the Hope and Anchor’ and ‘Paying for the Poor House’ at individual places. Also my favourite was Hilaire’s ‘On the Marriage of Catherine Boucher to William Blake’. The collection rounds off with two thoroughly touching poems.

      Finally, at a pub The Albion near the previous home of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, we kept our conversation on process for editing and finishing the book. And she encouraged my writing as usual (I met her in the 2013 ARVON workshop). Her interest has been, particularly, spoken words, different from 'poems on page'. I agreed with her idea that some poems in the book match reading performance. She introduced a poet Raymond Antrobus to me.

      Back and forth in old and current days is a virtue in poetics as much as life. For me, precious hours for immersing myself in unknown, lost or forgotten voices in the London local history, discovered by the two poets. Many thanks, Joolz.