An indie publisher has been forced to find a new venue to launch its anti-Brexit poetry anthology Bollocks to Brexit: An Anthology of Poems and Short Fiction after the church where it was due to be held refused to host the event, citing issues with political balance.
Publisher CivicLeicester had booked a space at Bishop Street Methodist Church on 29th June for its collection Bollocks to Brexit, but four days after making the booking, editor Ambrose Musiyiwa was contacted by the church, who said it had to cancel because it “wanted to strike a balance between being prophetic and a place of reconciliation”.
Musiyiwa told The Bookseller he was clear when placing the booking what the title of the book was and no one had raised any complaints at the time until the minister got in contact.
He said: “She said she understood the anger expressed in the title of the collection and she believed that, in the congregation, most of them voted Remain, but there were also others who voted Leave so she took the decision for the sake of reconciliation.
“It was unexpected and I’m hoping that either we can find another venue or they change their minds. We’ve used that space in the past for other book launches and other events. We have that relationship with them.”
He is now attempting to find a new venue for the launch, which will see featured poets read from their work and share reflections on the effects of Brexit.
The Reverend Fran Rhys told The Bookseller: "In the past, Bishop Street Methodist Church has been pleased to host poetry workshops by Ambrose Musiyiwa and hopes that we might do so again in the future. However, the church may only host events that are politically balanced, or neutral, and so we are unable to host this particular event at the present time.”
The book came about after a call for submissions, asking writers to submit poems and short fiction on the theme. Musiyiwa said the response was “phenomenal”, with 100 writers from as far afield as South Africa, Kenya and Canada wanting to get involved.
Musiyiwa said: “There’s nothing super angry or aggressive about the anthology. What we were doing is encouraging people to give another view on Brexit. It seems the only views that are being expressed at the moment are those who are supporting Brexit or from politicians. Voices from the community aren’t being heard, they’re being marginalised.”
Bollocks to Brexit includes a preface from Neil Fulwood, a poet based in Nottingham, who gives an overview on protest poems and the literature of resistance from World War 1 till now. itis followed by an introduction from Dr Corinne Fowler, associate professor of postcolonial literature at the University of Leicester, who looks at protest poems and the literature of resistance from sites like Peterloo, Manchester, Grenfell Tower, and Leicester
The Leicester launch was due to be followed by similar launch events in villages, towns and cities around the UK.
Musiyiwa has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to send a copy of the book to every MP and member of the Lords.