GPI's First Poet-in-Residence Jay Bernard Live at the Roundhouse

Three GPI trustees (Sharmilla Beezmohun, Pat Harris and Sarah White) were delighted to experience Jay Bernard’s new show at the Roundhouse at the beginning of last month – 3 June. Jay presented a one hour solo performance – Surge: Side A – with live poetry recitation, film, recorded sound and their own filmed reflections based around the New Cross Fire of 1981.


Londoner Jay Bernard was poet in residence at the GPI in 2016 as part of the 50 years celebration of New Beacon Books. They were the GPI’s first poet of residence.

During their time with the GPI Jay produced a body of ingenious work in response to material found in the archive, in particular the New Cross Massacre collection. Their poem ‘Surge’ is available in the GPI’s latest publication Beacon of Hope. Not only does Jay's work represent a new generation’s creative response to the material but their piece encapsulates the essence and sensitivity of the massacre and its horror. Writing in the voices of those killed, and using archive film, video and audio, Jay re-visits the New Cross Massacre and asks what we can learn from it in a new age of Brexit, Trump and the resurgent far right.


The trustees were moved and gratified that such an imaginative and creative work had been inspired by the archives held at the GPI.


Jay will be performing at the GPI this coming autumn. Keep a look out as updates will be posted on this website.


More about Jay Bernard


Jay is a writer, film programmer at BFI Flare (London’s LGBT film festival) and has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, including TEN: The New WaveVoice Recognition, Out of Bounds: Black British Writers and Place and Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology. Jay has also won the 2004 London respect Slam and recipient of a Foyle’s young poet award (2005). Recent projects include ‘The Sound and the State’ (an ongoing poem/film/lecture premiered at the 2016 Document Human Rights Film Festival) and ‘100’, a three-site poetry installation commissioned by Art on the Underground. Follow them on Twitter @Brrnrrd.


Photograph of Jay Bernard courtesy of Speaking Volumes