Publication day May 17th 2020
Illustration by Jack Wallington and Poetry by Amy Kean
Step into a world of deliciously wild characters: a group of outcasts who have only their rebellion in common. Weeds and humans overlap in this prickly-sweet fusion of poetry and illustration, painting tales of society's outsiders.
“One is tempted to say that the most human plants, after all, are the weeds.” (John Burroughs, 1881)
Between 1879 and 1941 two unlisted buildings in Peckham served as refuge to forty-seven individuals. It was a site of urban legend; asylum for the disgraced rebels and mentally unorthodox of the time. Those who did not fit an aesthetic template; who refused to respect society’s imposed sexual restrictions; the atypical men who had failed and been failed by the system; outspoken women who only a few centuries prior would have been burned as witches.
Little is known about what went on in those houses, as its lodgers were heard but rarely seen. Neighbours spoke of wild all night parties, raucous laughter, mirrors thrown from the bedroom windows with such force they dented the pavement below, and sounds of babies crying bloody murder within the damp foundations.
House of Weeds is the story of these rebel humans. An illustrated poetry collection from Amy Charlotte Kean and Jack Wallington that gives a megaphone to the weird, restless and unruly. The battles they faced and the love they crafted for themselves.
“Coming on like a south London Rimbaud, Amy Charlotte Kean gives us a ground level view of what makes us and breaks us. These weeds tell tales, biographies of the fragile yet indestructible; and are a reminder that life, however transient it might be in the dirt, is worth it. There is poison here, but much sweetness too.”
- Rishi Dastidar, Poet
(Nine Arches Press)
“The ‘wet fire’ that burns on the pages of this book makes it uniquely attractive. Brilliant, inventive & powerful. This is one book everyone should own.”
- Bola Opaleke, Poet
Amy Charlotte Kean is a weed, known for her persistence and unpredictability, much like the buttercup, or dandelion. She’s an award-winning advertising strategist, innovator and creative from Essex who’s worked with some of the world’s most wonderful brands like Nando’s, Sony and Jean Paul Gaultier to do unexpected cool shit that benefits society.
Her number 1 bestselling debut book, The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks is a feminist fairy tale and ode to everyday bravery, hated by The Spectator and Trump supporters and loved by women and men who see the power in worrying less. Her poems, rants, reviews, flash fiction and opinion are littered across websites like The Guardian, Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, Disclaimer, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Abridged and Burning House Press alongside her regular column on creativity for Shots magazine.
She’s a university lecturer, founder of DICE, an inclusion initiative in the events space and ambassador for Writing Through, a charity that builds confidence through conceptual thought.
Jack Wallington is a landscape garden designer specialising in nature led, beautiful spaces with a contemporary, light touch to hard landscaping, furniture and features. He views gardens and public green spaces as a mini-ecosystem and living, dynamic works of art that must also be practical, to be enjoyed and create lasting memories for people, too.
Throughout his life Jack has studied different forms of art, and has a current interest in line drawing for its ability to quickly capture energy and form. In all of his work, from pictures to gardens, colour is absolutely critical, used to set the tone and mood.
As a writer, his debut gardening book, Wild about Weeds: Garden Design with Rebel Plants was named The Times Gardening Book of the Year, exploring the virtues of plants we’ve long ripped out and cast aside. In House of Weeds, his quick ink sketches created on iPad are weaved around Amy’s poems that challenge our view of the world.