BEN PLATTS-MILLS

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BLOG

 
 

"An extraordinarily gifted story-teller"
- Robert Newman

I'm a UK-based writer and artist. My memoir, Tell Me The Planets, was published by Penguin in 2018. Before that I ran a life-writing project with survivors of brain injury called Who Are You Now? You can read my essays on Aeon and Psyche.

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ESSAYS

 
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Sept 2021

On freedom: the story of a rural psychiatric hospital in France during World War II. Exploring the shared roots of humanistic psychiatry, antifascism and 'Art Brut'.

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Oct 2020

On embodied memory: brain injury survivors keep on being themselves, even when they can't consciously recall events in their lives.

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July 2020

About my friend Matthew, a computer scientist who had a cyst removed from his brain. On materialism, identity and teleportation.

BOOKS

 
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TELL ME THE PLANETS

Penguin, 2018

A memoir drawn from the 16 years I spent working with survivors of brain injury at the non-profit organisation, Headway East London. Seen here with John Gray's beautiful hardback cover design.

"Platts-Mills founds his portrait on meticulous observation... The net effect is not only aesthetic and clinical, but political as well" 

- Times Literary Suppliment

"Probably the best book I know about what it's like to live with brain injury" - Vaughan Bell

"An absorbing and moving account" - Penelope Lively

"In Platts-Mills’ extraordinary book, the characters of people damaged by violence, stroke or accident of birth outshine the medical details... what really defines these individuals, even as memory fails and words elude them, is their stubborn vitality"

- Nature

You can read an out-take from Tell Me The Planets here.

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ENGLISH LANGUAGE FOR BEGINNERS

Writers and Readers, 1998

Many years ago I co-wrote and illustrated this documentary comic book about linguistics. It included sections on psycholinguistics and child language acquisition, the history of the English language, and contemporary political theory. It also contained a rather decent drawing of a young Noam Chomsky.

Here are my faviourite Amazon reviews:

"As a teacher of A level English Language I've never understood why this very useful guide was discontinued. It is truly excellent for a very wide range of abilities." - Scampo

"I am shocked that this brilliant book is out of print... I treasure my copy and would love to see it back in print because I am always recommending it to people I encounter in my life as an educator and inset lecturer."

- M.A. Topping

AUDIO & VIDEO

 

Barbican Screen Talk: Our Lucky Hours

(March  2021)

In support of their Jean Dubuffet exhibition, I was invited by the Barbican to discuss Martine Deyres' brilliant film Our Lucky Hours with Sarah Lombardi, director of the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne. The film tells the story of the psychiatric hospital at Saint-Alban and inspired my essay Asylum for Aeon (Sept 2021).

 

Blue  Planet Black Hole

(May 2019)

A film about ecology, climate change, acquired disability and speculative futures, commissioned by the Barbican. I interviewed Graham Naylor for this collaboration with the wonderful Nicky Deeley. We conducted most of the interview by email and used computer-generated voices to bring it into the film - a way of overcoming Graham's challenges with speech and of reflecting on the role of technology in his life. You can hear us talking in person towards the end.

 

The World Beyond My Head

(May 2019)

A podcast I helped to make for Headway East London. Brain injury survivors Victoria and Lewis make a journey to University College London to interview neuropsychologist Vaughan Bell. Victoria's dad Henry, a cab driver, gives them a lift and, on the way, father and daughter share an emotional exchange.

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CONTACT

benpmills@protonmail.com


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