John Challis Launch Readings
'In John Challis’s superb first collection, the past has not finished with us. It pursues and provokes and questions what we’re about. Entire vanished or vanishing worlds of work – on the East End docks, at Smithfield, in the pre-Murdoch print, at the wheel of a black cab – reveal vivid traffic between the living and the dead.’ – Sean O’Brien
John Challis's first full-length collection The Resurrectionists will be published by Bloodaxe Books on 24 June 2021. It will be launched with online events hosted by Bloodaxe Books and by Ledbury Poetry Festival on 22 June and 4 July. The book is available now direct from Bloodaxe ahead of our joint launch event.
The living and the dead are working side by side in John Challis’s dramatic debut collection, The Resurrectionists. Whether in London’s veg and meat markets, far below the Dartford Crossing, or on the edge of the Western world, these poems journey into a buried and sometimes violent landscape to locate the traces of ourselves that remain. Amidst the political disquiet rising from the groundwater, or the unearthing of the class divide at the gravesides of plague victims, the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest when a child is born, and something close to hope for the future is resurrected.
John Challis was born in London in 1984. He won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2012. He was a poet-in-residence with the Northern Poetry Library in 2015 and was chosen as one of the Poetry Trust’s Aldeburgh Eight. His pamphlet, The Black Cab (Poetry Salzburg, 2017), was a 2019 New Writing North Read Regional title. He works at Newcastle University as a Research Associate, and lives in Whitley Bay.
'In his debut collection, The Resurrectionists, John Challis reminds us how both personal and collective histories remain a part of our present.... this is poetry as archaeology, though with a lyric alchemy that can conjure “a heap / of gangrenous bodies” at a plague-pit excavation in modern London. Challis commemorates the lives of working London people – butchers in Smithfield market, a cabbie father, “barrow boys and cockle pickers” – in poems that reflect on class politics while generally avoiding nostalgia.... The Resurrectionists is alive to both the individual moment and the long perspective.' - Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian, best recent poetry
Read two poems from the collection on Wild Court here.
FORTHCOMING LAUNCH READINGS
Tuesday 22 June 2021, 7pm BST, Joint live-streamed launch event
Live-streamed launch reading by Penelope Shuttle, A.B. Jackson and John Challis celebrating the publication of their new poetry collections.
Hosted by Bloodaxe Books editor Neil Astley, this free launch event will be streamed on YouTube Live. If you register to attend on Eventbrite you will receive an event link reminder by email by noon on the day before the event. For those who can't make it live, the reading will be available on YouTube afterwards. If you miss the registration deadline, you can still watch live via the Bloodaxe YouTube channel here.
Click here to register via Eventbrite. Free online event.
Sunday 4 July 2021, Ledbury Poetry Festival - reading and workshop with John Challis
10am – 12noon, via Zoom
John Challis workshop: Appearances and Excavations
For some, the weight of the past is felt the moment they leave their door. For others, it is most acute in the architecture of cities, or felt through our impact upon the land, or visible inside the home, symbolised by the objects collected or inherited. The past, whether good or bad, finds its way to everything. Even the form a poem takes, becomes a layering of histories. By looking at poems by Ken Smith, Claudia Emerson, Terrance Hayes, and James Dickey, among others, this workshop, for anyone, offers practical exercises to explore and harness tensions created when the past is resurrected within the present moment.
Click here to book.
4pm – 5pm, via Zoom, John Challis Reading with Sean Hewitt
John Challis and Seán Hewitt, hosted by Andrew McMillan
In partnership with The Poetry Book Society
Tongues of Fire is a debut collection by Seán Hewitt, containing poems of a rare musicality and grace. Concerned with the matter of the world, its physicality, but also attuned to the proximity of each moment, each thing, to the spiritual. There is always the sense of fragility allied with strength, a violence harnessed and unleashed.
John Challis’s debut, The Resurrectionists, journeys into a buried and sometimes violent landscape to locate the traces of ourselves that remain. Amidst the political disquiet rising from the groundwater, or the unearthing of the class divide at the gravesides of plague victims, the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest when a child is born, and something close to hope for the future is resurrected.
‘These poems throw a great arc of light out of the city’s storeyed past into the present, place, trades, family, vulnerable fatherhood…John Challis shines his words into the workings of the heart and of nature, with all their unpredictable transformations’ (Imtiaz Dharker).
John Challis will be reading at both Durham Book Festival and the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts in October 2021 (details to be announced).
[01 June 2021]