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Screening (via Cytube, 7pm, link here)) and discussion (via Zoom, 8pm)

To celebrate Mayday 2021 and launch our online exhibition looking back at Wapping 35 years on, MayDay Rooms will be hosting a screening of Despite the Sun (1986) and a discussion with invited guests Roger Evans (Picket), Siôn Whellens (Picket), Cath Booth (NGA/Lesbians and Gays Support the Printworkers), Mark Saunders (Spectacle) and Kiran (Angry Workers).

Throughout May 2021 MayDay Rooms will host an online exhibition looking back at the Wapping Print Dispute 35 years on. The exhibition focuses on print as a medium and militant worker’s self-activity subverting print, to organise, build their own power and resources and communicate with workers in other branches of industry. Drawing on the tradition of worker correspondence, Picket Bulletin, provides a central example of how print was used to coordinate and circulate autonomous activity by striking workers. The exhibition will showcase new documents recently added to MayDay Rooms collections, featuring audio, film, posters, zines, journals and other printed matter.

 

The Zoom link will be emailed to you a day before the event. Please register here.

After the successes of last month’s conversation on Blake and Césaire, the second instalment of our monthly poetry reading group is here. The group is intended to create a social space to talk about work from the full breadth of historical and contemporary dissident, heretical, non-conformist and revolutionary poetries, from Futurists to social realists to feminists to concrete poetry to dialect to dub poetry to the most recent stuff being produced in small press publications outside the networks of corporate coffee table ‘Poetry’. We’ll see where the spirit takes us. At each session we’ll take a couple of poems to read alongside one another, by two different poets, not necessarily contemporaries. A different person each month will choose the works we’re going to read and give a brief presentation about why it’s worth reading them together, followed by a discussion that might lead us to collective conclusions on the work

The sessions will be a social space for anyone who wants to think carefully about the poetry we’re reading, so no prior ‘expertise’ required, and no future expertise expected. All the poems will be circulated beforehand but we’ll also read them together at the beginning of each session.

The second session (and there’s no need to have attended the first), which will take place 7pm, Monday 29th March. We’ll look at some poems prose poems by Baudelaire, and some verses by Francois Villon! If you want to come along, please sign up for the eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mayday-radical-poetry-reading-group-2-tickets-144665433205 – and we will circulate the poems a week before we meet!

We have really missed welcoming people to the archive since the lockdown so we wanted to give people the opportunity to take a virtual tour of our digital collections and recent accessions. We will be showing you highlights from the collections and guiding you through our ever growing digital collection on https://leftove.rs.

Register for the tour here

This month we’re reading a second book recommended by Shola – Irenosen Okojie’s short story collection, Nudibranch (2019).
This is what Shola has to say:
“I feel like Okojie’s work is hugely important in and of itself, but also when taking stock of British experimental/innovative writing – I’m interested in how when it comes to the contemplation of such spaces, Black women in Britain continue to be neglected, despite not only having always made work which is innovative, but also influencing the white work which comes to be categorised as such… I suspect this has a lot to do with the policing of the ‘brows’ and the long history of divesting Black art of intentionality, consciousness, self-consciousness, whilst conversely overinvesting, overdetermining even the most tedious white mark-making with the promise of limitless unplumbed cognitive vistas!”

Please read the collection if possible! No prior knowledge is necessary and all are welcome to join.

Email slackpuss.rg@gmail.com to book a place

Anyone who has ever written poetry knows it is communal practice: shared experience, collective metaphors, communal transmission of ideas, memories, and forms. Valuable poetry is written by individuals coming out of intense shared spaces of expression and valuable readings of poetry happen when the love and solidarity we feel for each other are directed towards words on a page. Isolation is lethal to poetry; there has never been a great ‘individual lyric poet’ without a massive collective revolt happening somewhere in the background – or in a future into which the poem draws the crowd.

The MayDay monthly reading group will create a social space to talk about work from the full breadth of historical and contemporary dissident, heretical, non-conformist and revolutionary poetries, from Futurists to social realists to feminists to concrete poetry to dialect to dub poetry to the most recent stuff being produced in small press publications outside the networks of corporate coffee table ‘Poetry’. We’ll see where the spirit takes us. At each session we’ll take a couple of poems to read alongside one another, by two different poets, not necessarily contemporaries. A different person each month will choose the works we’re going to read and give a brief presentation about why it’s worth reading them together, followed by a discussion that might lead us to collective conclusions on the work

The sessions will be a social space for anyone who wants to think carefully about the poetry we’re reading, so no prior ‘expertise’ required, and no future expertise expected. All the poems will be circulated beforehand but we’ll also read them together at the beginning of each session.

The first session, which will take place on Thursday 25th February. We’ll look at some poems from William Blake’s Songs of Experience, and some prose poems by Aimé Césaire. If you want to come along, please sign up for the eventbrite, and we will circulate the poems a week before we meet!

Please sign up here

The coalition government came to power in May 2010. By November the windows of Conservative Party HQ at Millbank had been smashed in, by a crowd furious at the proposed tripling of university fees, and the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. A movement formed, leading to further protests, often violently repressed by the police; occupations sprang up at universities across the country. Out of that movement grew legal defence groups like Green and Black Cross, activist groups like UK Uncut, and media organisations like Novara. Some people formed crews to make squats and social centres; others started organising for better wages and conditions for precarious workers. The movement ultimately failed: the government’s legislation was passed into law. But the student movement in these years set the scene for the struggles against the first years of austerity.

On 20th February we will be holding a session offering a chance for people who were involved in the student movement to come together and reflect on their experiences, and to talk about how the student movement a decade ago relates to radical politics today. This session will be open to all people who were involved in the student movement – however peripherally and briefly! The event will be split into three parts: in the first a number of people will be asked to give short (3 minute) reflections on one aspect of the student movement. The next part will open up into an open discussion. And finally we will discuss the idea of building an archive of this movement. Right now MayDay Rooms has a small archive of mainly printed material from the time, but we would love to expand it, and we know lots of you are sitting on some documents from those bitter old days! If you want to come along and please enter your details into the eventbrite here.

If you want to give a 3 minute talk on one bit of your involvement in the movement then drop an email to jacob@maydayrooms.org. We will do our best to hear from as diverse a set of people as possible! 

We are happy to be teaming up with the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest to bring you this event of Newsletter, past and present! 

Newsletters, the stuff of steady curiosity,  bureaucracy or just some local groups’ ephemera. MayDay Rooms archive is full of historic examples, and the recent 11th issue of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest is primarily a compendium of contemporary, locally situated anti-fascist or avantgarde newsletters. Join us for a discussion led by the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest on autonomous and radical cultural work and sociality through the lens of the newsletter. We will be hearing contributions from Woodbine in Queens NYC, the Center for Enchantment from Albany NY, and Five Years (London) together with material presented from the MDR Archive. There will be a discussion led by Nick Thoburn, author of the Anti-book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing.

Sign up here to receive the Zoom link for the event 

‘We Have the Right To Be Here’ is an oral history and analysis of some of the black and anti-racist movements of post-war Britain, told by three activists in an interview conducted by poet and educator, Sam Berkson. Suresh Grover, Frances Webber and Colin Prescod talk of their first-hand involvement in groundbreaking events of the British anti-racist and anti-fascist struggle. From the response to the racist murder of Kelso Cochrane in Notting Hill 1959, to Asian Youth Movements in Southall in the 1970s, the case of the ‘Bradford 12’ in 1981, to the Stephen Lawrence justice campaign in the 1990s, the activists tell how successful movements came together to challenge the state and the far-right. Talking from their personal experience at the heart of the struggle, Grover, Webber and Prescod analyse the dynamics of state racism and people’s resistance to it. They reflect on how victories have been won and how much more work there is to do.’The interview was conducted at the Institute of Race Relations in summer 2019, and contains footage, photographs and archive material from many of the struggles mentioned.
Running time: 1 hour 21 mins
Join us after the screening for a discussion with Frances, Suresh and Sam! 
https://cytu.be/r/we_have_the_right_to_be_here

A few of years ago we held an open meeting to discuss with the wider MDR community how we could develop the space, archive and program in more collective, inclusive and interesting ways. Since then we have tried to cultivate a building and the organisation as a non-sectarian space, where groups and individuals come together to collectively work on archives, document their struggles and organise against the current state of things. This has up to now relied on our building on 88 Fleet street, but since the health crisis started we can’t do that anymore.

We want to think through what the ongoing Covid19 pandemic means for MDR, when access to the building and the archives are severely limited. Since the start of the pandemic we have been thinking of ways to work collaboratively on archives and the different ways of distributing content. However as corona changes the ways we interact, collaborate and support each other for a long time to come, we want to discuss how to move forward with the wider MDR community.

In order to have this conversation we will be having a public open meeting at 6pm on 9th December. Please come along if you’ve previously been involved at MDR, used the archive, have come to a meeting or a social, or would just like to get involved. Bring ideas, creativity and fighting spirit!

Sign up here to receive the zoom link

Join us for a series of workshops where we will be pooling our collective knowledge around current and historical abolitionist struggles. Led by Hajera Begum and Azfar Shafi (Abolitionist Futures) the first workshop will provide an insight into recent abolitionist organising and outline what abolition could look like in the British context. The workshop will cover struggles against police, prisons and immigration policing, and the work of building and rooting abolitionist and emancipatory politics – with organisers from the Reclaim Holloway campaign and campaigners against immigration policing.

Recently we have been developing a collection around prison abolition and police abolition. This is in it’s early stages but we are inviting those attending the workshop to bring contribution that you think might be relevant to this collection or speaks to your own work. We mean material in the broadest sense of the world – could be a poster, meme, note, flyer, audio recording, pamphlet etc, gif etc.

During the second half of the workshop we will be showing you the archival material we have been gathering as part of our online archive Leftove.rs. Then we will be discussing how this and the material that you bring can be turned into an online resource about abolitionist struggles past and present. A second session on Saturday 21 November 1-4pm BST will involve delving into our personal archives and May Day Rooms online collections to generate an online scrapbook together.

If you would like to send any documents in advance please send them to anthony@maydayrooms.org and we can share them on the screen during the session.

To sign up click here