Smith, Erica

Erica Smith
1 October 2021Feature

Erica Smith reviews a new book from Four Corners

The eighth of Four Corners’ picture-rich ‘Irregulars’ publications celebrates the powerful heritage of banners produced for and at Greenham Common Peace Camp between late summer 1981 and when the camps were finally disbanded in 2000.

Banners made by one of the Peace Camp founders, Thalia Campbell, often with the help of her husband, Ian, her children, friends and others, are well-represented in this book. Thalia was one of the women on the inaugural march from Cardiff to Greenham…

4 July 2021Review

Unbound, 2019; 312pp; £10.99

A couple of years ago, I picked up a flyer promoting this (then forthcoming) book from Unbound. During lockdown, I finally tracked down a copy. You may wonder whether a book about wrestling deserves space in Peace News. I hope I will persuade you that it does.

The author was an awkward schoolgirl with no more than a passing interest in wrestling, who discovered the underground punk movement, Riot Grrrl and feminism. 

Wrestling seems an unlikely saviour, but at 21, as…

11 December 2020Review

Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company, 2020; 228 pp; £12.99

I’ve reviewed two other Greenham-related memoirs for PN: Juley Howard’s Righteous Anger (PN 2616 – 2617) and Charlie Kiss’s A New Man (PN 2636 – 2637). Both of those authors literally ‘grew up’ at Greenham Common – arriving there aged 16, soon after the camp formed in September 1981.

By contrast, Stephanie Davies grew up in an idyllic Hampshire village, and was in her early twenties before she decided to end a conventional heterosexual life and join…

9 December 2020Review

Myriad, 2019; 320pp; £17.99

This chunky 320-page graphic memoir is an absolute treasure trove of LGBTQ+ history.

Kate Charlesworth was born in 1950 and her autobiography reminds us how much has changed over the last seven decades. If anyone is looking for an introduction to queer history, this is the perfect place to start.

The artwork throughout the book is totally engaging. Charlesworth varies her drawing style to suit each ‘chapter’ of her life story and the different graphic techniques convey both the…

1 December 2019Review

Matador, 2017; 210pp; £13.99

The sub-title of this book condenses a complex life into a compact haiku.

The author was born in London in 1965 to a Colombian mother and a father with Hungarian heritage. Charlie Kiss is his real name, but when he was born, his birth certificate identified him as female. He lived as a lesbian until his early 30s when he realised that he was transgender. It took until 2007 for him to complete his transition.

The early part of Charlie’s life saw him growing up playing…

1 October 2019Review

Zed, 2019; 256pp; £20

This book was first published 25 years ago as Gay Pride to commemorate what was then the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This edition has lost the word ‘Gay’ (embracing the wider range of contemporary ‘Pride’) and has gained some additional photographs.

Introductory texts by Peter Tatchell and Hilton Als have been added to essays by Allen Ginsberg and Jill Johnston.

In Tatchell’s foreword, he reminds us of the massive strides made in the last 50 years. ‘Back…

1 October 2018Review

Four Corners Books, 2018; 152pp; £12

In 1979, the trade unionist and communist Richard Scott founded Leeds Postcards, which he named after the city where he lived and worked. The first postcard, beautifully illustrated by Peter Smith, was sponsored by the occupational health and safety magazine, Hazards Bulletin and warned of the dangers posed by ‘visual display units’ – the name given to computer screens when they began to be used in the workplace. Forty years later, despite computers taking over our lives and social…

1 August 2018Review

Four Corners Books, 2018; 128pp; £10

In the summer of 1968, a young man named Sam Lord combined forces with Peter Dukes and Jean Lou Msika (a French Tunisian expelled from France because of his involvement in the May uprisings in Paris) to set up a low-cost/no-cost screenprint workshop in a damp basement on London’s Camden Road.

Over the next three years, the Poster Workshop printed thousands of revolutionary/protest posters from hundreds of designs. Peter Dukes kept a copy of every poster that was printed.

1 August 2018Review

OR Books, rev ed 2018; 388 pp; £10.99; ebook £7. Purchase online here

Alex Nunn’s engaging style makes Corbyn’s journey from jam-making backbencher to leader of the opposition seem both exciting and totally rational.

Last year, The Candidate won the Bread and Roses award for radical publishing. That first edition traced Corbyn’s rise up to the attempted coup by right-wing Labour MPs in mid-2016.

This new edition includes a 100-page(!) chapter covering last June’s snap general election and the incredible surge of support for…

1 August 2018Review

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Lodge Hill Lane, Ditchling, East Sussex BN6 8SP until 14 October (Tues – Sat: 10.30am–5pm; Sundays & bank holidays: 11am – 5pm; £6.50 / £5.50, under-16s free)

emergency use soft shoulder (1966). Photo: Josh White, courtesy Corite Art Centre, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles

Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft may seem an unlikely place to host an exhibition of 1960s Warhol-inspired socially-engaged prints from California, but these brightly-coloured, life-affirming texts by Corita Kent make for an exciting dialogue with artworks by members of the Roman Catholic local artistic community in the permanent collection.

In 1921,…

1 April 2018Review, 2017; 372pp; £8.99

This book is a singular account of a community of action which didn’t just witness history, but was instrumental in changing it: Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. 25 years on, life experiences can be forgotten, so I am grateful to Howard and Moulin for collecting these reminiscences for posterity.

Like the film Pulp Fiction, this book begins at the end – with an action in 1993 where 16 women climbed into the grounds of Buckingham Palace to condemn nuclear testing in the…

1 December 2017Review

Verso, 2017; 176pp; £16.99

Kate Evans has created beautiful, radical comic strips since the 1990s. She has drawn and written about her experience as a tree protester at the Newbury Bypass, climate change, pregnancy and breastfeeding and the life of Rosa Luxemburg.

Threads came about as the result of a trip to volunteer at the Jungle refugee camp in Calais in October 2015, followed by two further trips in January and February 2016. The graphic novel documents Evans’ experiences in the camp, and the…

1 October 2017Review

Women’s Pirate Press, 2015; 148pp; €12.95

If there was ever a book that should be reviewed in Peace News this is it. Not only is 83-year old Margaretta D’Arcy a lifelong campaigner for peace but it was Peace News that drove her, at 79, to climb the fence at Shannon airport and protest on the runway – not once, but twice:

‘On the whole in the anti-war movement there was no real support for non-violent direct action. But then Peace News carried an article about an international week of protest…

1 December 2016Review

Zed Books, 2016; 384pp; £12.99

Hsiao-Hung Pai is a Taiwanese writer who has lived in London’s East End since 1991. Over three years she spent many hours interviewing far-right extremists and campaigners, often maintaining contact with them.

’Their faces on the TV screens and the front pages of newspapers show such deep anger, hatred and, above all, alienation, yet no explanation is ever given’, she writes. ‘Surely, I thought to myself, no one’s born a bigot. So what are the circumstances that have driven them…

1 August 2016Review

Verso, 2016; 228pp; £9.99

There can’t be many books reviewed in PN that have been compared to the writings of James Joyce and also need the help of to explain their vocabulary. But please don’t let either of these facts put you off reading this beautifully-written coming of age story!

The book opens with a map of Baltimore in the 1980s, annotated with the contemporary version of ‘Here be Dragons’ (‘Leakin Park – body…