Holly Pester

Holly Pester is a poet and multidisciplinary writer working through archives and written histories, with gossip, radical tales and dream logic. Pester has featured in readings, performances and sound installations at Segue, New York, dOCUMENTA 13, the Serpentine Poetry Marathon. Her book,  go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip is a collection of archive fan-fiction (Book Works 2015) and her album, Common Rest (Test Centre 2016) is a collection of collaborative lullabies and sound poems. She is lecturer in Poetry and Performance at University of Essex.



shown here are ideas, interests – and on the outside are ways of engaging with them. Plays with the unfixed order of work – not simply idea, making, and final piece – these are completely interchangeable.


hannah weiner, an inspirational artist. weiner had schizophrenia and she would hallucinate, seeing words everywhere – she calls her work clairevoyance, she claimed her mental illness as part of her work, used what she was as part of it.

“THe fast” was a book of hers, she made it by locking herself in her apartment and starving herself – this coupled with her mental illness made her hallucinate wildly and go insane – Pester says, “I found myself completely agreeing with her.”

Hallucination as a mode of art – Pester has bouts of hypnagogia, the boundary between waking and sleep, where sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming and other mental phenomena occur. the artist uses this as a new, different way of thinking/using the brain.


A piece of work installed in a telephone box outside the royal academy. she says, “i like to tell people i’ve exhibited in the royal academy, albeit in this parasitic way”

a storage tank of reserved otherness – telephone box

she played a sound piece which was a chaotic, incoherent poem


“Go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip” is one of Pester’s publications.


“Brush” is an experimental sound piece. It was described as a lullaby by the artist, although it sounds nothing like a traditional lullaby – there are no words, little in the way of rhythm, and consists of mostly white noise.

It was made collaboratively; the artists sat in one room, brushing their hair and singing softly into a microphone. Their sound engineer took snippets of the recordings, put several effects on them and put together the piece, resulting in about 3 minutes of haunting, yet strangely beautiful noise. In fact you could probably drift off to it, hence being described as a lullaby.




To finish off her talk, Pester did a close reading of her poem “aborted”:

“like history this sliced-up worm carries on in both directions

I know thee, I have found thee, & I will not let thee go 

They dug and buried

arrests were made

giving birth by a hedgerow I ask the hedgerow what it feels

like to be broken into

It was verses we should’ve sung

bring back my

I doubled up


Is there a dead bird in you?


You’re a strike-through line

dived over your sitter to the next incur


Ask me. Do I end here. I fall. I drink a foot. I ask the wall,

What plot did you sneak

to improve the noun for staff?

to slur a rebel’s speech

livers split   out pours solution

-a worm

ask it”




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