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Queens of Punk: Poly Styrene and Jordan at the British Library

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Time 19:00
Date 04/07/19
Price £15

A night of unregulated celebration and heartfelt memories, chaired by writer and musician Vivien Goldman.

Two iconic women at the heart of a revolution

Punk was a moment when everything changed for women in music. The late Poly Styrene was a songwriter, uncompromising artist and free thinker who fronted X-Ray Spex, a band who playful aesthetic was a antidote to the nihilism of punk. Her story has been pieced together by her daughter Celeste Bell in Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story co-authored by Zoë Howe.

They join Jordan, a legendary presence at the very epicentre of punk, her white beehive and dramatic make-up defining a look that has been iconic part of pop culture ever since. She has now created account of her life and times in new book Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story, with Cathi Unsworth.

Celeste Bell is a singer-songwriter, film maker and teacher.

Poly Styrene grew up mixed-race in Brixton in the 1960s and was at the forefront of the emerging punk scene with X-Ray Spex in the 1970s. She balanced single motherhood and sometimes debilitating mental health issues with a solo music career. She went on to find faith with the Hare Krishna movement, right up to her untimely passing in 2011.

Jordan is an icon, muse, catalyst and the most recognisable female face of punk, and was described as ‘the first Sex Pistol’ by Derek Jarman, Jon Savage and those who dared to walk up to 430 Kings Road from 1975-81. The public face of the shops SEX, Seditionaries and World’s End, the motivating force behind Derek Jarman’s film Jubilee, and the first manager of Adam and The Ants are just some of her achievements.

Vivien Goldman has been a music journalist and documentarian for more than forty years and served as Bob Marley’s first U.K. publicist. She is a former member of the new-wave bands Chantage and The Flying Lizards. She is now an Adjunct Professor teaching Punk, Afrobeat and Reggae at New York University. Vivien has just published her own history, Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot. Her previous books include The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley.

Zoe Howe is a music author whose other books include the acclaimed Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits; 'How's Your Dad?' Living in the Shadow of a Rock Star Parent, Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story, Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumours and Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson's memoir Looking Back At Me. Her writing has also appeared in The Quietus, Company, Notion, BBC Music, Holy Moly, Classic Rock and NME.

Cathi Unsworth has written six pop-cultural noir novels, That Old Black Magic, Without The Moon, Weirdo, Bad Penny Blues, The Singer and The Not Knowing. She started out on Sounds and has since written for Bizarre, Fortean Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, Mojo and Sight & Sound.