Guerrilla Poetry: the university years

During the second year of my BA at Royal Holloway (University of London), I used my role as president of the university’s Writing Society to instigate a number of guerrilla poetry missions – missions that I would continue into my final year, and which would sow the seeds for projects like Dawn Killing Darkness and Cafe Poetry.

Some of the highlights of these missions were:


A Line of Poetry (2009)

On National Poetry Day 2009, myself and three others woke up before the sun. Dressed all in black and with our hoods pulled up (metaphorically, at least), we set about tying a string between the trees outside the university’s International Department (housing the English and Foreign Languages departments), and hanging poems from it.

The poems we used were a combination of established poets’ work and pieces by emerging writers at the university.


Remembrance Day Poems (2009)

As an act of commemoration, on November 11th 2009, I led a group from the Writing Society along London’s Southbank, to the Millennium Bridge. We read war poetry aloud, and distributed copies of the poems to passers-by. The idea was not to make any kind of political comment about war, but to simply commemorate the war by engaging with the some of the poetry that had come out of it. To this end, we deliberately included pre-Somme and post-Somme poems, including some of the pro- and anti-war pieces of the time.

Photography by Martin Bayer:


Launch! at Deptford Lounge (2012)

In 2012, I created the [insert text here] project, through which went on to create Dawn Killing Darkness, Cafe Poetry and Beneath The Boughs. Working with poet Dominique Dunne, I launched both the [insert text here] project and the Dawn Killing Darkness zine at a pop-up poetry reading at Deptford Lounge.

While some people did come specifically for the reading, many of our audience heard the poetry by accident: a couple of women who’d come in to borrow a book; a man in the cafe, who watched us over the top of his coffee; even the library staff, who sidled out from behind their desk to listen.

Poets who read at the launch were: Alice Anokhina, Dominique Dunne, Katie Hale, Alex Knox, and Harry Wilson,