September 17, 2018

Is Glasgow an invisible city?

Joey Simons


In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Marco Polo warns us to beware of saying to the imagined inhabitants of Maurilia that, “sometimes different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication among themselves.” This is a question which has haunted me increasingly, because Glasgow is becoming the invisible city par excellence. Development, speculation and regeneration are our new prophets; demolition proceeds apace. More than houses are being demolished. A whole history of struggle and creation are hidden beneath the rubble in working class communities, absent from the accompanying press releases heralding (yet again) a new dawn emerging from the ashes. Through my search into the life and work of the Irish-born, Easterhouse-based poet Freddy Anderson, I have begun to uncover the threads of another history, one that might be able to stitch together the past and the present, and that have entangled me at unexpected points. The more I find, the more there is to know. Only we can uncover the poetry and theatre birthed by battles past; it is here that the city lives on from generation to generation, and not just in name.