The Argotist Online
John Seed lives in London and has published four collections of poetry since the 1970s. His work was also featured in the seminal anthology A Various Art (ed. Crozier & Longville, Carcanet 1987).
THAT BARRIKIN: PICTURES FROM MAYHEW LONDON 1850 II
5-part section is from the unpublished and still developing Pictures From
Mayhew II., a sequel to the published volume Pictures
from Mayhew. London 1850.
Every word in this collection is drawn from Henry Mayhew's writings on London,
published in the Morning Chronicle from 1849 to 1850, then in 63
editions of his own weekly paper, London Labour and the London Poor
between December 1850 and February 1852, and then again in the four-volume work
of the same title.
the thousands of pages of Mayhew's investigations, John Seed has selected a few
hundred extracts from those passages where he attempted to record the voices of
London's working people. He has cut and rearranged the source texts, and has
re-set them as poetry, splitting the lines in such a way as to make them both
more easily readable and less easily, or quickly read, in an attempt to get
closer to the original voices. The author likens this process to a sound
engineer editing a tape to try to get rid of interference or distortion.
The final shape of the poem-sequence, and the form of the poems themselves, show
the influence of American models such as Charles Reznikoff and William Carlos
Williams, who both attempted to record common speech.)