18.03.19 – Queer ghost tour of Shadwell – Happy birthday Wilfred Owen – Get your tickets here
The late great homoerotic poet Wilfred Owen 126th Birthday come at learn, explore and celebrate him on the Shadwell Stairs and learn about the queer history of the area that inspired his formidable work.
Led by Gay liberation Front (GLF) activists Stuart Feather and Andrew Lumsden – We will meet at the ‘Prospect of Whitby’* and mince on down to Shadwell Stairs to recite the poem, The Ghost of Shadwell Stair, finished by Wilfred Owen in 1918 just before he returned to the front line in France, and died.
Owen was nicknamed ‘the ghost’ by gay friends Siegfried Sassoon and Robbie Ross because there was a false report that he was dead before he really died. And apparently ‘ghost’ ( we can imagine why, imagining trolling in the London smogs) was apparently for a while an in-word for gay.
Wilfred Owen, 1893 – 1918
I am the ghost of Shadwell Stair.
Along the wharves by the water-house,
And through the cavernous slaughter-house,
I am the shadow that walks there.
A message from your tour guide Andrew –
‘Wilfred Owen was born in Shropshire in 1893 and machine-gunned in battle in France on Monday 4 November 1918, seven days before the Peace.
He was twenty-five. His fellow-poets, British secondary schools, British Unis, and the British government learnt to love him most of all among wonderful poets of the First World War, because he decided what he was fighting for – the English language – openly extended his pity to the enemy during the fight, and wrote laments for the men who died beside him.
But the British public were never allowed even by the 1980s to know that he was exuberantly gay.
Not allowed to know that on leave in England he was getting it on, or wanted to – we can all fail! – from Shadwell Dock Stairs in London’s East End to the Canongate in Edinburgh’s sleaze quarter of the 1910s, where nowadays the Queen goes respectably to church.
Has anyone thought to ask why the two most famous non-governmental British figures to emerge from the two World Wars were both of them gay men? Answers on a postcard please to Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.’
*57 Wapping Wall, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London E1W 3SH
Get your tickets here – https://www.outsavvy.com/event/2084/queer-ghost-tour-of-shadwell-happy-birthday-wilfred-owen-tickets – and get them quick as there are very limited spaces! – £5 unwaged, £10 waged, £15 solidarity – profits go to the Albert Kennedy Trust who serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people who are homeless, living in a hostile environment or in housing crisis – www.akt.org.uk.
It would be a treat to have this recorded – if you are a journalist and / or have a camera please join us too! Shout me here or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂