2019 © Division of Labour - 4 Edgar Street, Worcester, WR1 2LR UK

Worcester, London

Migrant Press (Revisited) 

Migrant Press (Revisited) explores and revivifies the creative output and style of maverick California and Worcestershire-based mid-twentieth century poetry producers, Migrant Press. Echoing the working methods of Migrant, this exhibition has been developed to give a platform to new artistic production from a base in Worcester. It takes Migrant’s socially motivated creativity as its cue, developing relationships between curator, artist and writer to generate new artwork and text that reboot Migrant's sociability, and reassert its lost history within cultural consciousness. In response to geographical location, literary content, methodology and its title Migrant Press, David Blackmore, Sonia Boyce and S Mark Gubb's newly commissioned works address concepts of nationhood and globalism, interconnectedness, communication and distribution. ˜MIGRANT Press (Revisited) is accompanied by a limited-edition catalogue printed in collaboration with Rope Press, Birmingham, including a specially written essay by Michael Hampton, samples of poetry by Migrant former editors Gael Turnbull & Michael Shayer and colour plates showcasing Blackmore, Boyce and Gubb. ˜MIGRANT Press (Revisited) is an Arts Council England funded project. 


The Hive, Sawmill Walk, The Butts, Worcester, WR1 3PD 
Division of Labour, 13-189 Herald Street, Bethnal Green, E2 6JT


A SHORT HISTORY  - The little poetry magazine Migrant, co-edited by Gael Turnbull and Michael Shayer from 1959-1960 was a creative writing venture that generated a critical context for itself without ever becoming a local platform (hence the absence of ephemera in the Worcester City Archives), as it was short-lived, ahead of its time but also obscure. Zine-like Migrant was mimeographed on a Sears Roebuck duplicator by Turnbull in his garage in Ventura, California, and co-edited by Shayer from an address in Worcester. Run on a voluntary subscription basis, Migrant hosted a range of modernist poems and short prose. It could be argued that the aims and distribution method of Migrant were a form of early mail art, enabling like-minded writers to get to know each other and their work through contributing material, and being part of a postal network. After the magazine's discontinuation, Migrant Press was established, leading to a series of titles such as Birmingham born Roy Fisher's protopunkish City (1960) and Michael Shayer's unjustly neglected Worcester ode Persephone (1961). Retooled as Migrant Press, Turnbull and Shayer concentrated on the distribution of American imported material, a think-tank for new poetics as much as a label, with an emphasis on performance too, resulting in the Live New Departures gig at the ICA in 1975 featuring voices associated with Migrant Press. 

According to Roy Fisher, Turnbull liked to "roam free in the floating world of little magazines and quixotic publications.'  As such Migrant could be said to represent a third way: a hybrid of Objectivism, Black Mountain College aesthetics, with a nod to English provincial vernaculars, a groundbreaking part of what Geraldine Monk has called a poetry insurgence located away from London in provincial towns. 

For more images and information, contact emaleebeddoes@gmail.com