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Outsiders and rioters find a place in poet’s modern patron saints
Thursday, 01 November 2012
Maggie Butt has come up with a peculiarly modern hagiography
LIARS, looters and the uncool all make up a north London poet’s list of patron saints for the modern age.
Illustrations of the 21st-century patron saints, the creation of Southgate poet Maggie Butt, will be exhibited alongside the poems in Covent Garden.
“My intrigue started when I discovered there is a saint for disappointing children,” explained Mrs Butt, who is deputy dean of art and design at Middlesex University.
“When I researched this, I found there were all kinds of patron saints – saints for lumberjacks, wax-melters and even Florentine cheese merchants. I wanted to invent ones for our new age so I came up with modern patron saints for groups such as liars and rank outsiders.
“Some of the poems are about trying to take a different slant on things. The poem about liars, for example, is about someone who lies to protect their loved ones and the one about looters is asking whether our society is to blame. Does our consumerist culture encourage this type of behaviour?”
The exhibition, running this week until November 16, is a collaboration between the poet and staff and students at Middlesex University. The artists drew their own impressions of the poet’s saints, taken from her forthcoming book Sancti Clandestini – Undercover Saints.
Reflecting on her first encounter with the illustrations, Mrs Butt said: “When I first saw the visualisations, I was quite taken aback. Some were exactly how I had envisaged the saint, but others were so far removed from what I imagined.
“I like it because people who come to the exhibition will get to read my poetry but also experience how someone else visualises the poems’ characters.”
Mrs Butt said that she hopes religious visitors will not be offended by what they read but instead connect to the poems through their different viewpoints.
“I think religious people will appreciate the tone of the poems. There are personal and political pieces and hopefully there will be something in them that everyone can connect to,” she added.
The exhibition is taking place at The Poetry Café in 22 Betterton Street, in Bloomsbury, and entry is free. Maggie Butt’s Sancti Clandestini – Undercover Saints will be released on November 7.
All content © of North London Press unless stated otherwise.
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Sir Ray Tindle
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