Interview with Lumpen: a new journal for poor and working class writing

Can you introduce yourself?

We are the editors of Lumpen, a Journal for poor and working class writing. We ourselves are working class writers and editors, and at least one of us likes making things look nice.

One of us is D. Hunter, who wrote Chav Solidarity. During the recent book tour that followed the CS release, Hunter met comrades from poor and working class backgrounds who connected with him over their own experiences. He also spoke with many others from more economically secure backgrounds who engaged with him as though he had the singular working class truth to pass on. He did not like this, and felt that there was a serious need for a publication that focused on expanding and amplifying voices from all working class and poor identities and histories. He was inspired by the journal The Blizzard which publishes long-form writing about football that doesn’t quite fit into your usual sports rag – it’s one of his favourite things. He’s now working on the sequel to Chav Solidarity, which should be called Chav Solidarity 2 –The Claret Revolution. Before Chav Solidarity he did some other things, read his book to find out more.

Another one of us is Hannah, who has a habit of jumping in and out of collaborative writing projects, they are excellent at finding ways of avoiding writing themselves by getting others to write instead. It’s a very productive process. Whilst their procrastination towards their own writing has not improved, they have become very good at pulling projects together, through editing and curating other people’s thoughts.

The third of us is Dorothy, a committed reader and somewhat undisciplined writer with a chaotic number of notebooks. Can be found laughing or crying at the new poetry section in Waterstones because of the sheer dross of some of it. Through working in mental health service and day centres has seen an amazing amount of mad good writing usually only ever published under a ‘this is the work of mental people as part of a project with (plug charity here)’. Involved in Lumpen on a serious mission to help change that.

So what is Lumpen?

It’s a quarterly journal for writers from poor and working class backgrounds. Lumpen aims to explore the contradictions and reproductions of class and other intersecting oppressions by tackling the opinions, actions, and lifestyles within political organising, activism, and subculture. We also look beyond the self defined Left, allowing Lumpen to take on forms lead by those who self determine as working class or poor by exploring themes and issues that are important to them.

As a side bit of fun, we will explore the pressures and conditions of writing, who gets to write, why writing is important and so on. We are also keen to use different collaborative approaches to producing language and insight through playing with different platforms, especially as writing isn’t the only way of forming and presenting ideas… so podcasts anyone?

Various definitions of Lumpen:

Used to describe people who are not clever or well educated, and who are not interested in changing or improving their situation. the lumpen proletariat = unskilled working people.

Generally unemployable people who make no positive contribution to an economy. Sometimes described as the bottom layer of a capitalist society. May include criminal and mentally unstable people. Some activists consider them “most radical” because they are “most exploited,” but they are un-organizable and more likely to act as paid agents than to have any progressive role in class struggle.

Essentially parasitical group was largely the remains of older, obsolete stages of social development, and that it could not normally play a progressive role in history. Indeed, because it acted only out of socially ignorant self-interest, the lumpenproletariat was easily bribed by reactionary forces and could be used to combat the true proletariat in its efforts to bring about the end of bourgeois society. Without a clear class-consciousness, the lumpenproletariat could not play a positive role in society. Instead, it exploited society for its own ends, and was in turn exploited as a tool of destruction and reaction.

As the name Lumpen might suggest to you, we want to address what is considered a waste of potential or easily exploitable. Rather than pulling some of us away from the margins to tokenise and chat about inclusivity, accessibility, and success against all odds, we want the margins to be the centre point from which everything grows.

Will it be a printed or online publication?

Each issue will be printed and available online.

Why do you think there is a need for such a journal?

The publishing industry, even the left leaning end of it, is the citadel of those rich in social, cultural, and economic capital. The few writers from poor and working class backgrounds, quickly become viewed as the authoritative voices of our communities, this hides the variety of ideas that exist within them.

In order to build revolutionary social movements within the UK it is necessary to hear from those who have been at the coal face of neo-liberal aggression. Lumpen is just one way in which those voices are projected. We’re aiming to give a space for writers to develop their craft and their political ideas, we hope to have writers return with follow up pieces. We also want to make sure they get paid, at least a little, for their labour.

What is your take on intersectionality?

It’s a good thing, often badly used.


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