Anna Mendelssohn – “Shell form: Conch tent. (for John Barker)”
John Barker is a political activist, writer and novelist. His impressive and compelling collected writings include Bending the Bars: Prison Stories(2007), Futures: A Novel (2014), Criminal Justice Acts: Short Stories (2017), and Radio Signals: A Novel (2021). Drawing upon his own experience with political activism since the 70s, prison and the criminal justice system, Barker is a fascinating and captivating novelist and story writer. In this session, Sara Crangle will be joined by John Barker to discuss his life, writings, activism and friendship with Anna Mendelssohn.
Anna Mendelssohn was an avant-garde poet and political activist, whose bold writings provided a litany of historical references and linguistic devices. Developing an “amplified Dadaist technique”, as Sara Crangle notes, “Mendelssohn’s late modernist poetics are awash with foreign turns of phrase, neologisms, nonce words, archaic diction, onomatopoeia, listing, deliberate excess, parodic rhymes, and clashing juxtopositions.” Working at the edges of communicability, Menselssohn’s poetry is “Lost in and by language, only more language will satiate”(Crangle). Like Dadaists and surrealists before her, her compelling and inventive use of language evidences a radical modernist belief in the transformational power of aesthetic form.
In contrast to her vanguardist aesthetics, Mendelssohn’s biographical details and political activism reveal a complicated and fraught relationship with political vanguardism. Alongside her friend and co-defendant, John Barker, Anna Mendelssohn was one of eight to stand trial on charges of possession of armaments and conspiracy to cause explosions for her involvement in the Angry Brigade in the early 1970s in what became, for its time, one of the longest legal trials in British criminal history. In this session, we will be discussing the works of both John Barker and Anna Mendelssohn, their lives, trial, and friendship.
Further reading, as well as the opportunity to purchase John Barker’s books, can be found on Barker’s website athttps://www.theharrier.net/.
This session will be led by Sara Crangle, who is Professor of Modernism and the Avant-Garde at the University of Sussex, and Editor of I’m Working Here: The Collected Poems of Anna Mendelssohn.
This session will take place both online via Zoom and in person at The Artist Residence, Brighton, UK. The Artists Residence can be found on 33 Regency Square, Brighton, BN1 2GG. Join us in Venue from 6:30pm and online from 7:00pm (UK time). Note to regulars: this session will be half an hour earlier than usual. To book a free place in the venue, click here. For any questions please message me at email@example.com
This session will be run by Bradley Tuck and take place on the 9th August 2022 from 19:00 – 22:00 (UK time). If you have any questions please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org