Near Exeter Prison, on Blackall Road, there’s an old metal plaque on a wall that reads: I don’t like text in art but walking along this road holding the hand of a girl I loved was the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s a genuine and romantic foil to the corporate graffiti of the nearby High Street; a touching expression of love and happiness: an example of everyday life puncturing the Spectacle if you like that kind of thing. Or it’s a pretentious bit of self-absorbed sentimentality on the part of the writer. Either way or in-between, had it been written in red spray-paint someone would have washed it off by now. If you stand beside the plaque at night you can hear prisoners shouting to one another. Signs, written on site(s) using material found in public or semi-public places such as bars, museums, shopping centres and cafes, might be read with such things in mind.
Born in Cornwall, Nathan Thompson lives in Jersey and is in the process of winding up a PhD at the University of Salford. His collections of poems include the arboretum towards the beginning and The Visitor’s Guest from Shearsman Books, and pamphlets from Knives Forks and Spoons, Oystercatcher Press and Gratton Street Irregulars. A new collection, …, or the Night Terrors, will be published by Oystercatcher in January 2014. Further selections from Signs can be found at 3am Magazine (http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/signs/) and in V+L-A=K Volume 4 (available from http://litteraria.ff.cuni.cz/books/vlak4.html).