Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds


Stephen Watts

Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds is the first book-length prose text by poet and translator Stephen Watts. The text was written on a typewriter in the late 1980s, then mislaid and lost. Found again in 2012 it was typed onto a laptop with minimal editing.

The narrative moves between London’s Isle of Dogs and Scotland’s Western Isles, where Watts lived and worked as a shepherd. It is both a topographical journey through two landscapes and a highly personal meditation on the history and memory of these locations. Watts is interested in the changing landscape of London’s East End: the destruction of working-class culture and its collective memory and the pace of urban development and regeneration. The writing is itself a form of activism, memorialising a lost culture through its physical traces and the stories and voices of its inhabitants.

Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds is a vital and significant text by one of the most astute and sensitive writers of the relationship between landscape and memory. Stephen Watts’s distinct and illuminating poetic sensibility combines a fierce honesty, rooted in reality, with a beautiful and imaginative lyricism.

‘I am moved and fascinated by Stephen Watts’s poetry in ways I find hard to explain and extraordinarily powerful to experience. He is among the most fine and subtle writers I know on the relations of landscape and mind.’ Robert MacFarlane

‘Such free play of voice against finely calibrated shifts of light and atmosphere is intoxicating. Stephen Watts shapes a prose of rare integrity and grace. There is no estranged otherness, no prussic scorn even for the despoilers and exploiters of place. The poet’s generosity catches us off-balance, as we sift the local tideline and the deep time-line of the islands, acknowledging hermits and passerines. And joining cause with the least visible and most valued citizens of this republic of words. A rescued text that has found its moment. And its position alongside others jewels of the secret city: The Stumbling Block by Brian Catling, Cable Street by Lee Harwood, and Whitechapel by Bill Griffiths.’ Iain Sinclair

‘For four decades, poet, translator and activist Stephen Watts has been the quietly urgent, profoundly committed voice of the underseen, the marginalised and the overlooked. He understands that the centre which matters lies at the edge, whether that be in the pull of ancient islands or the common ground of migrant streets. His tools are perennial witness and precise resistance through poem or prose, anchored in lyric anger for justice and praise song to the loved but fragile things. Like benign mercury, the language he deploys is one of dark illumination, earned and epiphanic. This is fiercely engaged internationalist writing invaluable both to our understanding of the Crisis, and to our ability to resist the abuses of the age. His time is now, crafting an enduring present, tense with solidarity, resonance and grace.’ Gareth Evans

£12 | £25 + p&p. 190 x 127mm. 96pp. Offset printed, signature sewn, with dust jacket, single colour throughout.
500 copies, 15 of which are signed and numbered and contain additional holograph material (now sold out).
Printed by Artquarters Press
Designed by Traven T. Croves
ISBN: 978-0-9926858-8-1

Out of stock

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Stephen Watts


Special Edition, Standard Edition