Street poetry celebrates Brixton’s legacy of defiance

15 August 2023

Written by: Lambeth Council

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Poems celebrating Brixton’s activism are now literally “the word on the street” in Lambeth.

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Street poetry celebrates Brixton’s legacy of defiance

Railton Road is becoming a unique heritage trail with poems by renowned local poets Ty, Bries and Malika Booker being turned into public realm installations on the Shakespeare Road and Railton Road traffic filters. The first poem is now in place on Shakespeare Road.

Ghost poetry

Lambeth Council is working with 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance (funded by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Funding) and the Brixton Project to celebrate Brixton activism with these ghost poetry installations in the Railton Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN).

Word from the Cabinet

Cllr Rezina Chowdhury, deputy leader of Lambeth Council, said: “We hope that putting this poetry out there on the streets in public will inspire young people to learn about the history it reflects, older people to remember, and help bring Brixton’s history alive in an accessible and permanent way.”

“Instead of marking local history with traditional statues, building in poetry to the roads where people walk will include people who are too often excluded from arts, culture and education. The trail will also be accessible to differently abled members of the community. “

Words in a landscape

This project has also involved Evelyn Grace School (located on Shakespeare Road) in collaboration with local artists and poets.  The poems will become part of the landscape and provide a path through the area, taking people on a walking journey marking sites of importance to Brixton’s historic Uprising. To connect the works together, a digital artist will bring the story behind the project to life on the 81 Acts website.

Ghost walking

poem on the road in Shakespeare Road - part of a new heritage trail commemorating the Brixton Uprising of 1981

poem on Shakespeare Road commemorating the Brixton Uprising of 1981

The area has long been called ‘Poets Corner’ from the names of Shakespeare and Chaucer, and the original idea was to place the poems in murals on the streets. The idea changed after consultation with residents and businesses, and the poems will be installed into the tarmac of our streets, using the methodology established for ‘Colourful Crossings’ for placemaking installations in the public realm.

More information

For more about the 1981 Brixton Uprising and its London-wide impact, please see the 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance Website