Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds by Stephen Watts

Published by Test Centre (2015)
96 Pages, 19 x 13 cm, Paperback, Edition of 500

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.