I’m really enjoying working with Hannah on a new book, and have asked her to say a bit about what she is doing. Hannah writes:
My research broadly hinges around scatological humor, doggerel, doom and post-punk, so it was not long before my path crossed with Michael, who is somewhat of a torchbearer on such matters.
Our correspondence and my excavation of his archive is motored by an interest in his involvement with Manchester’s underground literature scene, which he participated in as a writer, an editor, and a publisher. His archive holds a mind-boggling profusion of material from a moment in the mid-to-late seventies and on through the eighties – a moment during which the UK counterculture was moving away from the utopian psychedelics of the sixties, and beginning to collage together different eras, past and future, in a turn towards somethings new. A footloose post-war economy, new communication technologies and the looming shadow of Thatcher all generated fodder for a wide variety of little forms of fiction, poetry and text art, part paranoid, adolescent, deranged, all notably experimental. The compilation I am planning focuses on Michael’s place in all of this – specifically on his early writing (speculative fiction, poetry, conceptual word art) for the new wave sci-fi publication New Worlds, as well as his involvement in a variety of post-punk zines and publishing operations. Also important to note: his archive, and his writing within it, portrait a specific post-industrial moment in Manchester, and thus part of my task is forensic. What parts are science fiction, and which are historical depictions of Northern England’s post-industrial atomic-war-fearing populace?
My research is Russian dolled, let’s say, insofar as its approaches Michael’s texts as self-enclosed worlds, but also as traveling chunks of work that were re-mixed and re-appropriated in a variety of ways over several decades, and then again also as constituent pieces of their larger containers: the print underground of Manchester in the late seventies and onward.
Hannah is a London based writer, editor, researcher and academic.