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Nottingham Castle

Wayne Burrows

8 November 10 words: James Walker
“I never knew there were so many people in Notts who wanted to hear Czechoslovakian Psychedelia”
Wayne will be performing at Hatch's It's about time on Wednesday 10th November

Wayne Burrows: Poet. Editor of Staple magazine. Journalist. Vinyl obsessive. And soon, the first ever writer-in-residence at Nottingham Contemporary. Despite having a CV that would put Melvyn Bragg to shame, there’s one thing in particular that has stood out for him during his various forays into the world of arts and culture, and that’s how many people in Notts like Czechoslovakian Psychedelia… 

When does your residency start, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
I’ll be there from January until March next year, running workshops with older people, poking about the exhibitions and writing about whatever I find there. The two artists showing after the British Art Show are Jack Goldstein and Ann Collier, and they both work with vinyl records, so I’ll be able to indulge three obsessions in one. You’ll always find me rummaging through boxes of LPs and 45s at the Cattle Market on a Saturday morning, and Rob’s Record Mart on Hurt’s Yard is like an art installation in itself.

Galleries having in-house writers - that sounds pretty unique…
Not quite – Pascale Petit’s been running a brilliant series of workshops at Tate Modern, and others have done things elsewhere, but it’s the only one working with contemporary art in the region, out of the fifteen or so residencies Writing East Midlands are running. They’ve got Jean Binta Breeze at New Walk in Leicester, Mark Goodwin out in the Landscape, and Jo Bell in Derby Hospital, so we might be doing some exchange visits. Each residency mentors a new writer as well, so there’ll be a brilliant young writer called Aimee Wilkinson who you may have seen with the Hello Hubmarine crew there as well.

'Tempreh has pretty much become your second home, hasn’t it?
I was going before it even opened - they had a run of exhibitions at places like Newstead while it was still being built. The Gert & Uwe Tobias show that was on with Diane Arbus this summer was fantastic. Hadn’t seen any of their work before; I had to keep picking my jaw up off the floor.

And you’ve worked with them before…
I did a night of Communist Bloc Rock’n’Roll, where we talked about and played 60s and 70s Eastern European records in the Café Bar during the Star City exhibition. I never knew there were so many people in Notts who wanted to hear Polish rock and Czech psychedelia - I thought we’d have three blokes and a dog, but the place was rammed.

When Wayne is not writing poetry, editing, playing records or working on his four books, he likes to pretend he's Spiderman.  

You’re also editing a book bringing artists and writers together…
That’s an anthology I’m editing for Staple, called 24 - because there are twelve writers and twelve artists in it. The contributors are mainly from the East Midlands, so the writers include Damien G Walter, Michael Pinchbeck, Fatima al Matar, CJ Allen and Emma Lannie, while the artists are people like Mik Godley, Denise Weston, Candice Jacobs, Yelena Popova and Victoria Siddle. The idea is to bring the art and writing worlds together, which we try to do in the magazine anyway, so this is just our usual thing on a bigger scale and it’ll be out around Christmas if all goes to plan.

Any advice on surviving in the arts, given the imminent cuts?
I’ve been freelance for years, and it’s always a bit precarious, but the trick is just to find ways of keeping afloat. If you can do that, then you become a bit like a cockroach – you’ll have sod-all money through the boom, and then the same in the busts. That said, being freelance is probably no more insecure than being in a full time job at the moment, so as far as advice goes it’s back to Arthur Seaton – don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Tell us about the commissioned poem on this page…
It was written for an event where five poets responded to David Hockney and Frances Stark’s work at Nottingham Contemporary last November – we saw the exhibitions a week before we had to perform the finished poems. I liked Stark’s way of taking bits of printed material and tearing them up, rearranging them, and all her references were related to Los Angeles, so I decided to rip up her world and shuffle it in with some Nottingham as well. It had to be in LeftLion because nobody who doesn’t know Notts fairly well could ever work out what’s going on in it.

What else are you up to?
There’s some texts I wrote in collaboration with the artist Neville Gabie which are going into the paving when Sneinton Market is redeveloped, a book about money I started in 1998 that I’m still fiddling about with, and a novel called Albany 6 that’s a sort of Philip K Dick remix of the history of pop music between 1964 and today. One of the characters in that is an artist named Robert Holcombe, so I’ve made seventy odd collages in character as him, and they might be shown somewhere one day, too. Geoff Dyer once said you should always have lots of things on the go so when you bunk off one you’re doing another instead of nothing, and that’s what seems to work for me as well.

By Way of Digression (or: Tearing Maps of Nottingham and Los Angeles into Small Squares of Roughly Equal Size, I Tape Them Back Together in Random Order, as a Single Mosaic Featuring Equal Parts of Both, and Try to Find a Way Back Home…)

At the junction of Clumber Street and Market Square
I watch the ice-rink emerge from its scaffolding
as a cold fog clears. The sky’s pale grey seems turquoise blue
as the dusk comes in, and the lights turn on,
as Wilshire Boulevard becomes Woodborough Road,
Hollywood moves to Hollowstone and the paving slabs in Wellington Square
map a grid like the view of freeway lights
from Griffith Park, inverted under their own steel moon.
Outside the Grauman’s just off Heathcoat Street
I find marks on pavements, yellow paint,
angles and arrows, numerals, words,
lines from the Whitmans, Spillanes and Kerouacs
who rode the Big Wheel, went where they would
on City Rider cards, to the outlands of Glendale and Warser Gate,
the deserts of Orange and Carlton Hill,
the all-night garages and cheap motels
of Long Beach, The Ropewalk and Spaniel Row.
Broad Street is Venice, where bamboo flourishes outside Kayal
and waitress-starlets take Chinese tea
in the street-facing windows of each café.
The billboards on Sepulveda Boulevard give us realtors,
Donuts, the Panto at Mansfield Palace Theatre,
a Berlin Wall of commercial print that runs from Radford to Rodeo Drive
as gutters freeze and the night grows deep. I keep moving,
take in the windmill at Watts, the Downtown dragon
with its stainless teeth, the Bath Street overlap with Beverley Hills
and crowded strip-lit Santa Monica bus
that stops at Victoria and Derby Road.
Pasadena nestles in a bend of the Trent,
its pueblos and semis, Aztec Hotels,
overlooked by the Clough Stand at Elysian Park.
Around Embankment and the County Hall,
deckchairs, rip-tides, the leaking heat
waxed into surfboards, stale bread broken for moorhens, swans.
I walk faster, from Echo Park to Wilford Bridge,
see pale moonlit sheets and lines of shirts
hung out on the cold. Somewhere between Hermosa Beach
and the lowered night barriers of Colwick Park
headlamps slice red-sandstone cliffs, throw long night-shadows
on the arterial roads linking Daleside
to the Pacific Coast. Pigeons are seabirds, insects swarm,
disperse in the glittering depths of space
where constellations sharpen, letters and punctuation-marks
pricked through indigo carbon sheets
as first rays of sunlight float through cloud
like this idle thought: that I will find myself lost, or maybe
find myself, in Burbank, San Pedro or Lady Bay,
cross Euclid Avenue and Mulholland Drive,
the junction of Thoresby Street and St Stephen’s Road,
my fingers like popsicles, and both eyes closed.

Commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary to read at Frances Stark’s exhibition ‘But what of Frances Stark, standing by itself, a naked name…’
on 25 November 2009.

Wednesday 10 November 2010
Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery 6pm – 9pm
Followed by The Castle Pub opposite 9pm until late
Nottingham-based performance and live art platform, Hatch, has invited sixteen artists to respond to notions of time. One of which is Wayne. For one night only, they storm Nottingham Castle and the Castle Pub as part of Sideshow, the official fringe to the British Art Show 2010.

Wayne Burrows' website
Hatch website
James Walker’s website

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