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A Curious Calling: Aidan Andrew Dun

Meet the Poet of Kings Cross, a much bigger job than one would expect

Written by . Published on November 28th 2011.

A Curious Calling: Aidan Andrew Dun

SOME 2,400 years ago, Plato banned poets from the Republic on account of their capacity to reinvent the gods, undermining the state from its centre. Not wise, perhaps, when your gods are as varied and fantastical as Apollo and Dionysus. But when all the gods are already being slain, perhaps a poet is exactly the required fix.

Aidan Andrew Dun, the Poet of Kings Cross, is a man with visions for the future of London that could be just the remedy for a city of crumbling souls. Or he could be, in his own words, “just a mortal idiot with his dreams completely out of control.” But, either way, without dreams it’s got to be more than a third of our lives that we lose.

William Blake made Kings Cross the centre of his London cosmology. Shelley had the most powerful supernatural experiences of his life there. Rimbaud wrote many of the illuminations and dreamed The Season in Hell there. Thomas Chatterton fell into an open grave in St. Pancras churchyard…

Your verse-novel, McCool, came out this year. What’s it about?
It’s the story of a love triangle set in Lebanon and London. The strap line is ‘A soldier becomes a pacifist, a war-painter goes insane and a lonely woman becomes a goddess’. What I see as the Third World War, starting in slow motion, comes out in this poem. It’s a very anti-war poem. I’m staggered by the fact that so few artists seem to be addressing what I see as the outbreak of World War Three. We in Europe and America don’t realise that we’re into the Third World War because the Third World War is being fought in the Third World.

Does all your work address political issues?
I’ve written a new poem called Unholyland and it’s seriously political. This poem began when I realised that modern Israeli kids absolutely love modern urban music, particularly hip-hop and rap. Particularly, they’re obsessed with these sling-shot rappers – Palestinian rappers telling about the ethnic cleansing in Palestine, in high Arabic poetics with modern/urban/Western/New York/London beats. I realised I had to tell the modern Romeo and Juliet story in modern Israel. Romeo is an Israeli DJ, into reggae and rap. He falls in love with a seventeen-year-old girl from the refugee camps outside Beirut. She’s the hottest, baddest, most serious rapper in slingshot hip-hop.

Why do you think so few people read and appreciate poetry today?
Poetry went through a crisis at the end of the nineteenth century with the great trinity of Yeats, Pound and Eliot. Industrial civilisation got a grip on the consciousness of modern man and the magical worldview was finally rejected. Eliot and Pound began to present their ideas through brilliant fragments, shattered images of whole ideas. Consciousness began to fragment. We lost our faith in God, in humanity, essentially. Literature reflected this. We’ve now arrived at the point where all meaning or purpose is ridiculous, or unfashionable, to say the least. To take a lawnmower manual and deconstruct it and recreate it as a poem, that is high literature now.

But for you meaning is important?
Yeah. My first epic poem took 23 years to meditate – to research the theory behind the poem. All that time I was studying this system of symbolic thought based on my understanding of the psychogeography of Kings Cross. I tried writing it out as scholastic prose, as a linear read through a whole series of meditations, reflections and ideas. I hated it. I was proud of it, but I hated it. I sat back for another three years and wondered what I was doing on the horizon of this planet and then suddenly I remembered I was a poet.


At Arthur's PlaceDun at Arthur's Place

When did you start writing poetry?
I began responding to the changing seasons and the beauty of nature in the West Indies at an early age. My desk looked out over the river and up the mountain. I’d see the rain-clouds come over the canopy of the rain forest and they’d roll over the top of the mountain and I’d hear the tropical rain in the forest and finally it’d come down through the valley and over our house. It would cause this speechless state of ecstasy. I started writing poems then, about taking off my clothes and walking into a rain cloud.


Why are you drawn to Kings Cross?
There are so many prophecies about this place. William Blake made Kings Cross the centre of his London cosmology. Shelley had the most powerful supernatural experiences of his life there. Rimbaud wrote many of the illuminations and dreamed The Season in Hell there. Thomas Chatterton fell into an open grave in St. Pancras churchyard, three days before his death and was pulled out by an unknown friend. Shakespeare used to drink the waters of St. Pancras church. I started squatting there with my friend the great Irish shaman Francis Kieran Clark, when I was 23.

My experience of it is York Way and the station, not so romantic. Where is the centre?
Old St. Pancras Church. It’s the oldest church in the world. In Vatican archive documents, it’s called the head and mother of all Christian churches under Highgate, near London. Jesus of Nazareth, in the lost years of his life, between the ages of twenty and 30, is believed to have come to Britain and taught his own spiritual system of thought to the Druids. So when you sing Blake’s poem – and did those feet in ancient times – they did.

There’s a lot of redevelopment going on there.
I know the developers very well, they’ve been champions of my work. I’ve been saying to them, let’s build a place called Intelligent Playground; let’s start dancing as Christ told us to. If London is a microcosm of the whole planet then it’s up to us to show a new way of the races coordinating with each other. What we need is a centre where enlightened men and women of all backgrounds and traditions can come together and explain to those of less advanced evolution that God is one and anyone who says any different is barking up the wrong tree of life. That’s where London’s going. That’s the destiny of Kings Cross.




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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousNovember 29th 2011.

Is this guy serious?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 5th 2011.

This guy is serious. What in the article appears to be false?

AnonymousNovember 30th 2011.

I'm more concerned if he's serious about wearing that gigantic leather flat cap

LilibetDecember 5th 2011.

Vision, genius, not madness. We need to envisage a new reality, get a magical take on our rigidly structured lives. Lives lived out in boxes of limited perception become stale & inflexible, a lack of imagination is all pervasive in our society. Be glad there are still people left who can dream it in! Human consciousness is the only area of evolution left, & it ain't gonna happen without some big dreamers who can see through the layers. Wake up to the future!!

AnonymousDecember 6th 2011.

Shelley said 'poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world'. Modern poetry has to be political (that is, engaged in all layers of life and levels of reality). It is refreshing to see someone who is serious about the role, when so many voices clamour for us not to be. Keep it trivial! the media brainwashed cry...

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