Plague Songs by Martin Rowson

7.30pm – 9.00pm

Plague Songs by Martin Rowson (Music by Jon Tregenna)

In May 2020 the award-winning cartoonist Martin Rowson (best known for his cartoons in the Guardian) set himself the challenge of writing a Lockdown Diary in verse. The result is Plague Songs, a unique cycle of furious, bleakly comic, and often offensive poems about COVID-19, fiercely inventive and desperately funny. Rowson, who recovered from the virus at the start of the year (‘sweating in freezing fits, embalmed in bed/ In sulphurous miasmata, my joints like broken walnuts,/ With hogtied eyeballs and less energy than dissipating smoke’) records in manic verse the long lockdown Summer of 2020 – coughs and sneezes, lockdown-haircuts, funerals and furloughs, hangovers and hauntings, track and trace, when Death and Pestilence were playing on the swings and visiting the elderly in their Care Homes.

Plague Songs is also a book about living in Banarnia – a nightmarish world of jingoism and xenophobia, hierarchy and inequality, government incompetence, Boris Johnson’s world-beating wet dreams, and the deadly twin viruses of stupidity and selfishness. What rhymes with COVID except bovid? Is Matt Hancock the Tory Party’s answer to Fred West? Does every shroud have a silver lining?

Joseph Healy from Anti*Capitalist Resistance will be engaging in dialogue with Martin Rowson about the book and hearing some of the poems as well as hearing the Plague Songs themselves which deal with the twin evils of Brexit and Covid and the results of both on living on this island which some now call Plague Island. The poems were set to music by Jon Tregenna.

For anyone interested in cartoons, politics, poetry, or satirical songs this is an event not to be missed.

Organised by ACR