Work in Progress by Matthew Couper


Matthew Couper

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The Spirit of William Blake Kicks the Developers Out of Bunhill Fields


Christopher Twigg

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Urizen Heights 5

Dear Historic England

I’m writing to express my disappointment at your decision to support the development of more tower-blocks around Bunhill Fields.

It was a striking pose that you would not join other groups such as the Ancient Monuments Society, Blake Society, Georgian Group, Victorian Society, Blake Society, and John Wesley’s House in an outright condemnation of the plans.

I have read the Historic England statement in which you “acknowledge the increase in height but do not believe that this is excessive or harmful to the setting of the registered open space.” You also claim the current buildings will be replaced with “buildings of much higher quality”.

This is spin. Offices are being replaced with offices. Mediocre architecture is being replaced by mediocre architecture. The most important difference is that sky is being replaced by skyscraper, 10-storey and 11-storey towers. You write of “perceived harm resulting from the increase in height” and yet you cannot perceive the harm yourself.

Watching the film Selling an Icon, I was doubly surprised to see a man from Historic England again taking a different view from campaigners by arguing the case that the iconic white chimneys of Battersea Power Station should be demolished.

What kind of association is a Historic England that argues for skyscrapers to go up by a Grade 1 Listed Park and Garden and for the most distinguishing features of a Grade II Listed Building to be destroyed?

How much longer do you think the public will have any trust in a heritage organisation that keeps taking the side of construction companies rather than the public?

A petition has been started to ask Greg Clark to call off the development. So far 3000+ members of the public disagree with Historic England.

Yours sincerely,

Niall McDevitt

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The buildings of Kensington Modernism are covered in a thin 2cm layer
of glass and sunlight
Sunday the 28th of February 2016
The sun is held up in an optimistic high for February
2 til 5pm mimicking May
All the buildings whitewashed in neck sun

In Pound’s cul-de-sac we notice
The blue plaque itself includes glass
Alexis gestures up, across and to diagonals
Points to
Cartesian pockets
Remembering the 45 degree options of
The Blue Ensign

[the flag the British forced colonised ships to carry]
Like a sulk in the corner of their flags
And I wonder why Niall has brought us here
To this such England
Then he gives us Pound as The Hyacinth Girl
[“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;”]

Here, bell-annoyed Pound found
A bunch of put away or dropped violets
And he took them with his wrist like
Alex Hurricane Higgins and
Lifted them to the church fence
Highed them up slightly

I’ve watched for sun in windows behind them
[that might reflect angels]
When Niall and Alex have stopped at houses
And usually found them
Nothing though on Pound’s window
It’s cul-de-sac lowness

The wind unbreathed now tho and
A lower middle-class loveliness
To the dimensions
The room he received DH Lawrence
Touchable from where he might have
Parked the Rover 200

No Angels however
At Pound’s last London house
No sun-comprehending glass
McDevitt notes that
This is a 21st Century blue plaque
Just put, faraway enough from Pound’s 20th Century scandals

And THEN I notice the plaque is not ceramic
Like the others
Pound’s plaque is cast glass or cast with some glass in it
The comprehending window is inside of it
Not above it
Alexis, explains Pounds anti-semitism as madness
And corrects my Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin
[kindly, and correctly]

And I realise I don’t really care if Pound and Eliot had bad politics
They protected English against the ordinarisation of English
And protected magic in English
They are nothing
To apologise for
The Englishness of the brackets of the rhetoric
Are all that

England has to apologise for
Joyce, Pound, Eliot and Virginia Woolf protected the English language from
The English for a century
And 2 of them were American.
Niall has to filter this through a psychogeography the English would understand
Which means respecting the architecture

I don’t give a fuck
Joyce, Pound, Eliot and Virginia Woolf
Saved and preserved a sense of Magic in English
Strong enough to survive Modernism,
When Modernism came back on them like a bad joke
In the popular culture, 1980 approximately
[When we accepted Thatcher as Modernism,
instead of Michael Heseltine (who would have been much less disastrous I now think- thought I hated him at the time and wanted Kinnock like everybody)

At least Heseltine was a pro-European and a moderate Tory
In retrospect he would have been a blessing
Keith Joseph was an anti-intellectual
[the Nigel Farage of his day]
Looking for a Patsy
Thatcher was a grocer’s daughter from Norfolk
Any old-Harrovian who talked to her she would
Cream in her pants

This is the history of how Britain
Adopted the Reaganomics that would
Fail and collapse our
Consumer banks
The “de-regulation”
That collapsed Lloyds and RBS in 2008
28 years after it destroyed
All the industry of the North

Wastelanded the North
I gulp at all this and ask David what
We can do to encourage the burst of
The property bubble that makes doctors now
Unable to afford to buy houses in London
As well as and after teachers, nurses, pyschotherapists, policeman, rubbish collectors
Postman and priests

Sullen quiet and cherry lip shoulder boned
Fruit cup rise of things
Velvet denim ghost rush
I realise this is
A Yeats Hulk Resurrection

pushing cold drank wind
always someway else abandoned
the embrace of the fading
never more than a silvered taxi passing

this is why we lose the horses of our dreams
they crawl up into themselves
and never the howl haunts
the howl haunts of west london

the foxes that were once wolves
and the bone-remember of the wolf in the skull of the fox
a warehouse domain
crumbing out of control
all shinbone and reddened

let me go and white up the moon
white up the nascent night
if this were only something we could say
and not be more than the word fading

If this was only something we could just say
and not have to be
Forza to earthly Paradise
Forza to Italianate pretention
and all the blood of the priest
and all the blood of the family
Insolent, abject and unapologetic
Lightning cuffs
And all whirled Europe
Keys to fairies and
before-renaissance Italies
framing the pavements of thieves
not anything like they imagined
just sleeping and fading
downing the roads like waterfalls

I give you tears
And an idiotic 20th Century
\and this is only the 21st
and there is lots of reused rehearsed
ratting and ashed-up rain
which never ends like the maps of flowers
that are just like clunching families, always
Slunting like tired Christs
Towards anything

Trying verse,
noting the smiles
regaining peace
lying to each dream
gracing all the light which fades
gracing all the slag lands
sunbathed insolents

These days are grassed up
there have been so many
all slooped things
There have been so many assaults against us
Our children remain unkillable
We are the poor intellectuals who want the King
of England guillotined constanly
And until then our children will not rest

stars like dishes
serving out more lighter
and do not let the dust pour further inwards
giving only Stonehenge visits
forever the done given day

This is a poem
In support of Ezra Pound by
Robert Montgomery and Greta Bellamacina

Forza the crosses in things or their violet ghosts
Forza the trees
Forza weed lined ambition
Forza sons of women


Poetry: Robert Montgomery and Greta Bellamacina

Photo at St Marys Church, Kensington: Julie Goldsmith

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Dear Greg Clark

We the undersigned are writing to you with an emergency appeal for cultural protection of a Grade 1 Listed Park and Garden.

Bunhill Fields on City Road, London EC1Y, is one of only ten parks in London to attain this status. Its legacy as the most famous Non-Conformists’ cemetery in Britain – if not the world – marks it out as a unique site, but what makes it truly iconic is that it is the final resting place of three of English literature’s most enduring writers.

John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrims’ Progress, was buried there in 1688. Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was buried there in 1731. William Blake, author of the unofficial English national anthem ‘Jerusalem’, was buried there in 1827. Their stone monuments form an isosceles shape which writer Iain Sinclair has memorably dubbed ‘the triangle of concentration’.

As well as being a public park and green space in one of the most congested areas in the City of London, and a sacred site for latter-day ‘Dissenters’, it is an international magnet for people all over the world who have enjoyed the classics written by the great triumvirate.

Sadly, its natural beauty and cultural heritage have become a target for developers. On Feb 9 Boris Johnson approved a massive development which will see two 11 and 10-storey office blocks and two 5-storey office blocks going up around the north-east corner, on what developers call ‘The Site’. Existing offices will be demolished. The unobtrusive mediocrity of Monmouth House will be replaced by the monolithic mediocrity of what campaigners are calling ‘Mammon House’.

Urizen Heights

Islington Council opposed the move saying it would “substantially harm the setting of the Grade 1 Listed Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, the Conservation Area, and the streetscape”. Boris Johnson ignored Islington and the objections of the Ancient Monuments Society, Georgian Group, Victorian Society, Twentieth Century Society, Blake Society, John Wesley House, among others. Instead, he ‘called in’ the proposal and personally approved it. This is the third time in two years that Islington has been undermined by the Mayor’s planning powers, leaving the Council divided and demoralised in the extreme and seemingly unable to protect the jewel in its crown.

City Hall maintains the need for office space is ‘critical’ but there is already a gigantic office development going up metres away, the humongous White Collar Factory. Across the road is the 40-storey Atlas House. Four skyscrapers, therefore, will overwhelm Bunhill Fields, blocking light, and marring the skyline. They will set a dangerous precedent in an area that is “not designated for tall buildings”. If Mammon House is built, more high-rise developments will follow.

Furthermore, another huge residential complex called Bunhill Courts is about to be built by the north-west side of the Fields, (on the site of the cruelly closed-down Moorfields Primary School). An Inspector rejecting the appeal against approval of the Bunhill Courts development still agreed “that the proposed 5 to 7-storey elements would threaten the sense of seclusion and tranquility by altering the balance from one of harmony to one where the surrounding buildings would be oppressive and dominant”. Three seperate developments in various stages of progress will mean years of disruption and disturbance. With the completion of each new construction, Bunhill Fields will become colder and darker.

Office spaces are everywhere in London, Bunhill Fields is rare… a natural, historic and spiritual oasis. We are asking you, Secretary of State, to be our culture hero and call off this construction, thus protecting Bunhill Fields from the orgy of development that is sure to ensue. As Will Self warns: “The eradication of genuinely public space in London is like unto the tight fist of corporatisation choking off the city’s life-blood…..”

Thousands of people have signed a petition and will continue to do so. One signer, a young lady called Jet Payne, has ancestors buried there. Our target is 120,000 signatures, one for every dissenter buried in the cemetery. But this will take a while, and we only have until March 8 to act.

While Boris Johnson will be remembered in the capital as ‘The Mayor Who Sold London’s Skyline’, we are hopeful you might step in and save our beloved Bunhill Fields from these overbearing and overweening plans. What is the point of having a Grade 1 designation, if the Listed Park and Garden in question is used as a bait for high-rise property development, and its protected status so easily violated?

Yours sincerely,

Will Self, novelist
David Graeber, anthropologist
Michael Horovitz, poet-painter-musician
Vanessa Vie, poet-painter-musician
Heathcote Williams, poet
Lindsay Clarke, novelist
Robert Montgomery, poet-artist
Tom Raworth, poet
Julie Goldsmith MRBS, artist
Jody Porter, poet
Jet Payne, descendant of non-Conformists buried in Bunhill Fields
Jeremy Reed, poet,
Christopher Twigg, poet-artist
Sandeep Parmar, poet, BBC New Generation Thinker
John Kinsella, poet-environmentalist
Max Reeves, photographer
Neil Oram, poet-playwright
Jay Ramsay, poet
Claire Palmer, artist, International Times
Niall McDevitt, poet


P.S. The petition began as a petition to Boris Johnson but is now addressed to you, Greg Clark. We have suspended our appeal to the Mayor as he seems to be too busy and as he never listens anyway. You’ll also see about 3000 signatures backing up the shortlist of poets and artists sending you this open letter. We are hoping to gather 120,000 signatures by the time the work is due to commence in May. Please halt it if you can.

Photo of Marlowe Chan Reeves, former student of Moorfields Primary School: Max Reeves

Photo of Niall McDevitt standing on the actual spot of Blake’s burial: Julie Goldsmith

I ROSE up at the dawn of day—
‘Get thee away! get thee away!
Pray’st thou for riches? Away! away!
This is the Throne of Mammon grey.’

Urizen Heights 5

Art: Claire Palmer

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Poetry: Robert Montgomery


(Robert Montgomery is the second poet/artist – after Tom Raworth – to make a metaphysical contribution to the petition).

Please sign and share:

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A unique literary walk in Kensington is set to debate the vexed question of whether or not the giants of literary modernism in England were anti-semitic.

Since their heyday in the 10’s, 20’s and 30’s, and especially following WWII, various accusations have been hurled at poets Ezra Pound and TS Eliot and at novelist and essayist Wyndham Lewis. Even Virginia Woolf has faced criticism despite her successful marriage to a Jewish husband.

Eliot was criticised for republishing poems ‘after Auschwitz’ that seemed less than flattering to Jewry.

Was James Joyce antisemitic or philosemitic in his characterisation of Leopold

All this and more will be discussed along the ‘Modernist Mile’ of Kensington where
all of the major figures of the movement lived at different points in their lives.

Poets Niall McDevitt and Alexis Thompson will share their knowledge on the subject
and invite all participants to have their say (in a friendly and constructive manner).

Niall McDevitt is the author of poetry collections b/w and Porterloo.
Alexis Thompson is author of the essay Suburban Prejudice: Pound, Eliot and the Culture of Anti-Semitism.

Sun 28 February meeting at Queens Gate, Kensington Gardens at 2pm.
(High St Kensington or Gloucester Road tubes) £5

Further info: 07722163823

(Lewis’s book-title shocks modern sensibilities who condemn the book unread, but it is a detournement of the title below, as The Modernists: Were They Anti-Semites? is a detournement of Lewis’s title. It’s worth bearing in mind that Lewis’s book was praised by The Jewish Chronicle. )




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