Writing and the working class ‘I didn’t know I was ‘working class’ you know until somebody called me a working class poet.’

As heard on arena

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“I was a bit thrown by it the first time I heard it, to be honest,” said poet and writer Colm Keegan of the title ‘working class’ in relation to his own identity as a writer.  Colm will be hosting ‘This Voice’, an event at the Red Line Book Festival on Wednesday 10th October which explores the relationship between writing and the working class and he and writer Frankie Gaffney joined Sean Rocks on Arena to tell him more.

“I didn’t know I was ‘working class’ you know until somebody called me a working-class poet and then I was like, hang on a sec, ok, that’s what I am and then I started to understand that I was part of a system and a hierarchy as some people would see it,” explained Colm.

“Then you start to understand that you are seen and judged based on your position in society and your accent and stuff like that…  Your class is your identity and I always owned that, I was always proud of that and I kind of stood up for it so it can be a stick used to beat you but it’s something to be proud of too, where you’re from.  There’s a certain strength in that cultural capital as well.”

“I think politically the definition of working class needs to be radically expanded,” said Frankie who says the term should pertain to anyone who sells their labour for a living, not just someone with a certain accent or background.

“I think that’s happening now.  Class politics are back on the agenda and you see over in England with the rise of Corbyn, 60% of English people now would consider themselves ‘working class’…  There is a working-class Dublin dialect that is definite by class.  It’s not geographical, it’s people from a certain socioeconomic background talking a certain way and I think also there is a literature then embodies that and embodies class values…  It is something that’s been neglected in literary terms.”

Click here to listen to Arena and you can click here to find out more about the event.

© The Listener 2018

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