Call for papers for Sean Bonney (1969-2019) special issue Call for papers for Sean Bonney (1969-2019) special issue
Posted by Scott Thurston on 2020-06-05

We are seeking papers for a special issue dedicated to the work of Sean Bonney (1969-2019).


The author of numerous pamphlets and full-length collections, including Our Death (2019), Letters against the Firmament (2015), Happiness (2011), The Commons (2011), Document (2008), Baudelaire in English (2007) and Blade Pitch Control Unit (2005), Bonney was a crucial part of contemporary poetry communities in the UK and internationally. Formatively shaped by the influences of Maggie O’Sullivan and Anna Mendelssohn and by Bob Cobbing’s Writers Forum workshops, Bonney’s work drew from the aesthetic practices of the ‘British Poetry Revival’, and from Left-wing political and aesthetic radicalism, including the Angry Brigade, the Black Radical Tradition, Punk, the Situationists, Surrealism and Revolutionary Marxism and Anarchism. Predominantly based in London, but also in Liverpool and Nottingham and, in his final years, Berlin, Bonney’s work was in dialogue with a much wider range of international poetries past and present. With Frances Kruk, Bonney ran the small press yt communication, and he was an active publisher and organiser, committed to an aesthetic drawn from Punk and DIY traditions, as well as the legacy of the Mimeo revolution, samizdat publishing and radical pamphleteering. A critic and scholar as well as a poet, his critical work challenged the boundaries of academic writing, as he aimed at conceptualising what he called a ‘militant poetics’, in doctoral work on Amiri Baraka and in essays on Blanqui and Sun Ra among others. His work in poetry, poetics and critical prose was extraordinarily wide-ranging in its field of influences, and in turn exerted a powerful influence on those poets around him. We hope that this feature will give a sense of the full richness of his career in poetry in its many different phases and dimensions, as well as taking into account Bonney’s unswerving commitment to political activism and to thinking through the relation of politics and aesthetics.


Some potential topics include:


·         Anarchism

·         Bonney as teacher; Bonney as scholar

·         The Black Radical Tradition: Amiri Baraka, Afro-Futurism, Afro-Pessimism, Négritude, Frantz Fanon, Édouard Glissant

·         The British Poetry Revival: Bob Cobbing, Bill Griffiths, Anna Mendelssohn, Barry MacSweeney, Maggie O’Sullivan

·        European Modernisms: especially Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Rimbaud, Dadaism, Russian Futurism, the Paris Commune, Surrealism, Brecht, Anita Berber, Georg Trakl, Peter Weiss, Jean Genet; questions of bohemianism

·         Film: Fassbinder, Pasolini, B-movies and trash cinema

·         Internationalism and anti-imperialism; contemporary border discourse; racialisation; national identity

·         Marx and Marxism

·         Millenarian traditions, mysticism, radical religious movements: Abiezer Coppe, the Ranters, the work of Diane di Prima, Gerrit Lansing, histories of heresy

·         Music: ‘Free Jazz’ (especially John Coltrane), Bob Dylan, folk practice, punk, post-punk & anarcho-punk (The Fall, Crass, etc), Britpop as enemy

·         The New American Poetry: Charles Olson, Diane di Prima, John Wieners, Stephen Jonas, Allen Ginsberg & The Beats, Lenore Kandel, David Rattray.

·         Performance, Sound Poetry (i.e. Khlebnikov, Kruchenykh and Zaum), poetry off the page

·         The Politics of Protest: Anti-War Movement, Occupy, ACAB, Antifa, Riot and Revolution.

·         Publishing: small press poetry, the samizdat tradition, DIY aesthetics, Yt Communication, Abandoned Buildings (Bonney’s blog)

·         Questions of form: prose poetry, the sonnet, visual poetry, the diagram, collage, asemic writing, letters, notes on militant poetics

·         Romanticism: Blake, Shelley and others

·         Situationism and its influence

·         Translation: Baudelaire, Gogou and others

·         Urban space and critical geographies; radical cities (London, Paris, Berlin, Athens); pastoral and anti-pastoral (The Commons); gentrification; insurrectionary action (especially 2011 UK riots)

·         Visual Art: Jay de Feo, Niki de St Phalle, Valie Export, Stephen Rodefer.


This list is partial, and essays on any aspect of Sean’s work are welcome. The word limit for articles is 8-10,000 words, in MHRA format. (Please see the journal’s submission guidelines here: Contributions will be peer reviewed. Expressions of interest and abstracts of up to 250 words should be submitted by 31 July 2020. Article submissions will be due on 20 March 2021 with final publication in the Autumn.


Submissions and prior enquiries should be directed to Jeff Hilson ( and David Grundy ( Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, and please feel share to circulate this CFP widely.


Jeff Hilson (University of Roehampton, UK)

David Grundy (University of Warwick, UK)