That’s Brutal!

Adelle Stripe is an up and coming journalist, poet, editor and publisher and has worked in everything from the music industry to the sex industry. The brain behind one of the underground poetry scenes most interesting genres, Brutalism, in this interview Adelle covers everything from her poetry to her favourite nights out in Manchester.



In your own words describe Brutalism to us.

‘Brutalism’ stems from three writers – myself, Tony O’Neill and Ben Myers. We are all from the north of England and wanted to capture the spirit of those towns in poetry. We were inspired by the punk rock DIY ethic and designed a chapbook called Brutalism One: Nowhere Fast. We also thought it was about time we gave the literary world a sharp kick up its flabby arse. After studying the history of poetry movements as part of my degree I thought it was about time we started one for a new generation of writers. There were plenty of fantastic fresh writers online and in the small press who were writing in a similar way to us; it was a natural and organic conclusion to form The Brutalists and give the beast a name. The best thing about starting a literary movement is upsetting the applecart of the current ‘acceptable’ form - it has to be done in order for writing to evolve….and as someone once said ‘The Hacienda Must Be Built’. I’m sure there will be a new group of writers who will come along in a few years and tell us how rubbish we really are. And of course, we will welcome them with open arms.

We know you’re a local girl, having worked here in Manchester at Flux magazine in the past, what was that like?

Ooh…I’m not strictly ‘local’. I’m actually a white rose, from the other side of the Pennines. I grew up in a small town called Tadcaster which is between York and Leeds. I spent a lot of time in Manchester during the 90’s though – it’s one of my favourite cities in the UK. Beats Leeds hands down! My sister lives in Didsbury so I do visit quite a lot. I work at Flux magazine as the fiction editor, digging out new writers for the magazine from the literary underground…

What was your favourite night out here in Manchester?

There are so many it would be hard to recall every great night I’ve had in the city. Off the top of my head Flesh, Danceteria, Paradise Factory, Manto’s Breakfast Club, Bugged Out at Sankey’s Soap, The Brickhouse, Dry Bar … I think my best ever night out in Manchester was watching Daft Punk play at Sankey’s in about ‘95. Their first single had just come out on Soma Records (Da Funk), and they opened playing Raspberry Beret by Prince. There were bodypoppers on the dancefloor and if my memory serves me right Rae & Christian were playing upstairs. It’s all a bit fuzzy but I remember going upstairs and they would be playing stuff like Stereolab’s Metromonic Underground or Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger. Downstairs would be acid and upstairs all the best in genuine eclectic beats. I’d be bouncing off the walls on double dollar dips. It was a wonderful place to lose your mind. Afterwards I’d zip up my snorkel parker and fall asleep on Piccadilly’s battered old platform waiting for the 6am train back to York…and unfortunately straight back to work.

What made you decide to make the move down to

Well, I had been living in Leeds for five years. I worked as a window dresser, then a club promoter and eventually a dirty phone line operative. It was the shittiest job ever. Listening to sad old men cracking one off down the phone as you sat with a bunch of 20 bored housewives in a grey office in the centre of Leeds at 5am. It was no fun. I was skint, lived in the arse end of Hyde Park, and was sending myself insane with a series of failed relationships and a shady attraction to the dark side of life. I decided to move to the east end as there was nothing left for me in Leeds. I’d burned all of my bridges. I arrived in London with £100 in my pocket and a will to survive. Thankfully I got a job working at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane and became a music programmer at the Vibe Bar. After that I started a degree at Greenwich University. I’m in my third year on a creative writing degree – which is one of the best moves I’ve ever made.

Straight from the Fridge was one of my very favourite online publications, whatever happened to it?

Well, it actually started in 2004 as a print fanzine – I’d put on bands at the Vibe Bar like Selfish Cunt (who I later managed), Simon Bookish, Acoustic Ladyland, and the fanzine kind of ran alongside the live stuff. Pilsner Urquell paid for the printing so I pulled in loads of Brick Lane artists and writers and started publishing it regularly. When the money ran out I started a blog and regularly updated it. These days there are so many websites doing what I did a few years ago that they all blend into one. The trouble with the net is that there is so much crap out there it become tedious wading through it all. Plus, I’m a busy girl and don’t have time to reply to the submissions. I’d be getting about 200 a month which way too much to deal with. I had my own writing to concentrate on. So now it just sits online as a literary relic of the past few years. It might resurface at some point, in a different media – but definitely not in its current format. Some of the SFTF writers have gone on to get book deals; Tony O’Neill (at Harper Perennial) and Chris Killen (at Canongate) to name but a few, and it also gave lots of great new writers the opportunity to get their work read. I didn’t have a specific policy – if I liked it, I published it. I think the anti-elitist tone of it really worked which is why it became so popular…

Visit this literary relic.

Tell us about your work with Blackheath Books.

Blackheath Books is based in Wales and is run by Geraint Hughes – he does everything himself and has a printing press at home. In the tradition of counter culture publications he produces lovely chapbooks that are hand made and he has some excellent writers in his stable. He first got in contact via Myspace, and I liked the literature he was into; Blackheath reminded me of Hangman Books, Wrecking Ball Press, Loujon or Black Sparrow Press. He’s a genuine lover of poetry and a great person to work with. My collection Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid came out in 2008. I suppose I wanted to write a collection of poetry that would reflect the past few years of my life; it’s an intimate diary of living in the east end, relationships, nature, and regeneration.

What are you working on at the minute? Describe your day to day.

At the moment I’m about to enter the final stretch of my degree so very busy working on various creative projects. I’m doing Alternative Publishing as part of my course which is most excellent. I get to study The Frankfurt School (Walter Benjamin, Theodore Adorno), Situationist Internationale, the MC5 and Factory Records. I’m also doing Romanticism and Latin American Cultural Studies – so overall it’s a dream year despite the workload. I’m working on a new collection of poetry which is very slow but coming along, I spend time in the poetry library on the southbank trawling through poems by writers such as Hart Crane, Robert Lowell, W.B Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh in the vain hope that some of their magic will rub off on me. That aside I have just finished some new poems for Mineshaft Magazine (with my fellow Brutalists) and will be doing a poetry-art installation at The Foundry at the end of January. My day-to-day consists of procrastination, Jeremy Kyle, high brow cultural theory, cycling, eating cakes, and preparing various publishing projects that I have in the pipeline.

Oh yes, I’ve been working for Harper Perennial on a graduate placement, I helped put together a collection of vintage Victoria erotica for Paul Baggaley over the summer. They are on sale as from next week ….called ‘Harper Perennial Forbidden Classics’

Finally, what do you think the future holds for Adelle Stripe?

I’m hoping to put out one chapbook of poetry a year, publish music books and cult classics of the future, continue working with the Brutalists, move out to the sticks, do an MA or PhD, buy a new Patterdale Terrier, learn to drive, get a washboard stomach and master the art of the 12 bar blues. If I could achieve just two of those things I’d be happy…

Laura Carr