Hillview Poetic Histories is an innovative collaboration between residents of Hillview Estate and Poet in the City uncovering Hillview’s story as a self-run housing collective that survived in the face of austerity and eviction notices, influencing short life and cooperative housing movements in the UK since the 1970s.

The project’s mission is to use poetry and storytelling as a creative model for listening, creating new connections within the estate and raising awareness about Britain’s history of squatting and short-life housing .

The project started in July 2019 and came to the end of its first phase in March 2020. This involved: the commissioning of poet Hannah Lowe to create a new poem inspired by life-story interviews with residents and a resident curated exhibition of archival video footage, photography and memorabilia in Hillview Community Centre for Bloomsbury Festival on October 13th. Storytelling workshops and a poetry competition were also run for residents. The new poem from Hannah Lowe, plus poems written by residents who won the competition were displayed on railings in Brunswick Square in October 2020 for the Bloomsbury Festival. In early 2021, residents on the estate will be working with Poet in the City to create a new poetry film for the poem written by poet Hannah Lowe. This part of the project has been supported by Camden Council as part of the Camden Alive project, funded by the Mayor of London.

During phase one of the project, residents were inspired to launch the Hillview Peoples’ Archive to document and share the estate’s unique story, and to galvanise residents, housing providers, policy makers, academics, artists, and the wider populace in the conversation around the right to a home. The future of the project will focus on developing new work to strengthen this aim. Poet in the City is currently exploring with residents the possibility of creating a podcast that tells the wider story of short-life housing in London.

Read poetry commissioned as part of the project here

HILLVIEWS by Hannah Lowe

You're Welcome by Amy McAllister

Hillview by Chris Reeves

Hillview Inheritance Remembered by Chris Harrison

Artist Biographies

Hannah Lowe has published two full collections of poetry with Bloodaxe - Chick (2013) and Chan. She has also published four chapbooks, most recently The Neighbourhood (2019), and a family memoir, Long Time No See (2015). In 2014, she was named as one of 20 Next Generation British poets, and in 2020 won a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors. Her next full collection is forthcoming with Bloodaxe.

Hillview Poetic Histories is funded by Camden Alive which is part of the Mayor's London Borough of Culture and is a Mayor's Cultural Impact Award Winner

Photographs: Hillview Community, 1988, by Catherine Packard