Our featured publication for September and October is Manland by Peter Raynard, published by Nine Arches Press.
Peter Raynard’sManlandis a bold, brilliant and outspoken new collection of poems that scrutinise men and manhood, mental health, working class lives and disability. Aloud and alive with music, wit, anger and rebellion, this is an accomplished, politically aware and vital book.
Raynard is a skilled observer, and these razor-sharp poems document parenthood through the lens of a stay-at-home dad, attempt to tell the truth about men and depression, study our cultural and social and medical relationships with drugs and drug-taking, and lay bare the realities of life at the sharpest edges of society. By turns frank, painful and bleakly funny, this humane and brilliant book encompasses pride and prejudices, the bonds between lads and dads, the toxic pressures of masculinity and the way illness and poverty irrevocably shape lives.
Described as a a “bold, brilliant and outspoken new collection of poems that scrutinise men and manhood, mental health, working class lives and disability. Aloud and alive with music, wit, anger and rebellion, this is an accomplished, politically-aware and vital book.”
I am grateful to Fran Lock, Jacqueline Saphra, and Richard Skinner for the following endorsements:
“Part manifesto, part hymn, part raging lament, this collection takes apart the dirty engine of so-called masculinity, strips it down to its component parts, reconsiders and rearranges them using a dazzling array of poetic forms. It is only through acknowledging the strength of their vulnerability, these poems suggest, that men will be able to manifest change in our broken system where the violence of patriarchy is the enemy of us all.” – Jacqueline Saphra
“In Manland Peter Raynard traverses the unstable terrain of working-class masculinity. His poems meet manhood in all of its banter and swagger; its persistent myths and dangerous silences. With his characteristic lyric verve, Raynard explores what it means to be a man, a father, a husband, and a son. The result is moving, candid, wise and tender, full of humour and hard-won insight. A convincing and beautiful book.” – Fran Lock
“One of the things I love most about Peter Raynard’s work is his voice. His voice is necessary, vital, passionate. It is the voice of anger at social injustice, a voice that deconstructs toxic masculinity, a chronicler of illness. Above all, it is the voice of truth. He tells us how the world is, not how we would like it to be. In this way, Peter Raynard is nothing short of a truth-teller.” – Richard Skinner
If you are able to buy it, I’d be very grateful and I hope you enjoy it.
A Poetic Coupling of the Communist Manifesto by Peter Raynard (with Karl Marx)
Counting in at around 12,000 words, can there be a more influential book with so relatively few words, than the Communist Manifesto? Today (21st February, 2018) is said to be the 170th anniversary of its publication. Written in a six-week rush, after the Communist League imposed a deadline on Marx, its take up has been phenomenal and its relevance remains today, if not more so.
Much is planned to mark the occasion, especially as it is also the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth on May 5th. I have read the Manifesto a number of times over the years. However, as a poet, I hadn’t given it…
‘There is nothing one man will not do to another.’ (The Visitor, Carolyn Forché)
On 7th January 1915 the war in Europe was at a stalemate. Soldiers were still dying for an unknown cause but the papers in the UK at least, were headlined with floods that covered much of the country. On the following day, the future UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George, in response to the war not ‘being over by Christmas’, said that half a million new volunteers should not be ‘thrown away in futile enterprises’ and by ‘this intermittent flinging …. against impregnable positions’.
‘Tumbling over hills, likes waves of the sea/Staggering on, attracted magnetically by Death.’ (At the Beginning of the War, Peter Baum, 1915)
When you look at the iconic picture taken of the German city of Dresden in 1945, it is as though the statue of the Rathausturm, known as ‘Die Gute’ (the Goodness – a personification of kindness), is pointing in disbelief at the utter devastation wrought by the British, where an estimated 25,000 people (many of them civilians) were killed. Almost five years previously in November 1940, my home town of Coventry, was heavily bombed by the Germans because of its industry and munitions factory. Although the death toll (estimated c560+) was far less than in Dresden, it was still massively devastating in terms of the damage done to the city, which took years to rebuild.
The greatest symbol of that destruction is the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral. I still go up its tower, St Michael’s, and two things stay with me when I look at the view; the…
A Fish Rots From The Head: A Poetic and Political Wake (published by Culture Matters) is a flash anthology of poetry and artwork, by around 100 poets and artists from England, Scotland and Wales. It expresses the fury and betrayal felt by working people about the leadership of this country – the mendacity, selfishness, corruption, smears on opponents and disregard for the general public shown by leading figures in the Johnson government.
This collection of images, parodies, rants, squibs, and full-on poems, put together in less than three weeks, is just part of a tide of satire now sweeping across Britain. It challenges, satirises, despairs, and even dares to laugh at the venal moral hypocrisy of our leaders, whose malignant mixture of callousness and ineptitude has never made life so hard, in so many ways, for so many working people in this country. Through its demonstration of compassion for the suffering of others, and its protest against wrongdoing by those in high office, this collection of poems and artworks provides a very necessary space and inspiration for solidarity and resistance. Let’s hope the removal vans come soon!
The book is available below. Feel free to download it and share with your friends and networks. You are also free to make a donation towards Culture Matter’s costs, as much as you like, using this button and download the anthology here. In solidarity!
At fifteen I was a punk. I don’t have the spiky hair anymore (don’t have any in fact) but I still like to think I have a little bit of the ethos. My son is fifteen and into much the same type of alternative music, although his relates more to the various genres of heavy metal. It is only now, however, I have spotted a contradiction in our choices, for although I reveled in being different, I also wanted to be part of a group who looked and felt the same.
What we all have in common, whatever identity we feel we have, is the need to belong to something. It may only be with four other boys playing Warhammer in Games Workshop on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or as in Hannah Lowe’s poem Dance Class, being with ‘the best girls posed like poodles at a show‘. But it is often not that…
The late great Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly had many famous sayings that are repeated to this day. The one that struck me growing up was, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Although I have followed football all my life, I have rarely, if ever worn my team’s shirt. For one, I didn’t want to get beaten up by any wayward away fans; and two, I have never liked the tribal allegiance element of the game nor the violence that lies behind it.
Football is also not devoid of influencing national politics to the point of igniting armed conflict as was the case in 1969 between Honduras and El Salvador. The political map influences where teams will play; most notable being that the Israeli…
On This Day She is the new book from Jo Bell, Tania Hershman and Ailsa Holland – a page-a-day history book featuring 366 women who have earned a place in history, but haven’t always got it. You can watch a recent event in which the three of us talked about the book and some of the women in it, here.
History is not just ‘what happened in the past.’ It is the story of what happened in the past. Our existing stories need an overhaul, because women have not been fairly represented in them. There are plenty of women who should have taken their place in any accounts of great deeds and cultural change. If they don’t appear in those accounts, that is not because they weren’t there.
Artists and philosophers are downplayed as the ‘muses’ of men for whom they were…