Well, the three months since starting Proletarian Poetry certainly went quickly. December was a bit of a quieter month in terms of number of posts but there were great poems, some of which spread across continents and covered such themes as gender, family, friendship, poverty, and pacts with the Devil.
First up in December were three short poems from Ethiopian poet, Bewketu Seyoum‘s “In Search of Fat”. I was introduced to Bewketu’s translator, Chris Beckett at The Shuffle, which is the last Saturday of the month in the Poetry Cafe. Seyoum’s poems, trace the history of Ethiopia and the struggle of its people to find freedom and peace.
I came across the Landay only recently. It is a is a twenty-two syllable two line poem – in Pashto, Landai means ‘short, poisonous snake’. In the poems featured, Afghan women express their independence and defiance towards a male dominated society through these concise and direct two-liners.
To Wales next, where Patience Agbabi told the tale of Robbo, The Devil in Cardiff, who comes a cropper when making a pact with Satan. The poem follows Chaucer’s Friar’s Tale, and is part of a Patience’s collection Telling Tales, which is a modern reworking of The Canterbury Tales.
We then went back in time with Pensioned by Alison Brackenbury, a narrative poem about an unlikely friendship between her grandfather, Frank, a gamekeeper on a large estate in England, and a local traveller Hezekian Brown. The story swept through a hundred years of history from before the First World War to more modern acquisitive times.
Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead featured her poem, Photograph, Art Student, Female, Working Class. It followed the life of a Twiggy-like figure who, exposed to open sexism during the 1960s, became conscious of a growing feminist movement ignited by such writers as Germaine Greer.
I am keen to feature poets who have not published a pamphlet or collection, so I was very pleased to include Kate Wise’s poem Fairytale about her great Aunt whose first job was as a Fairy on top of a Christmas tree in a department store. The poem also however, covers a recurring theme of family and strong-minded/willed grandparents.
Finally for December was my inspiration for the site and poetry in general, Malika Booker. Lament for the Assassination of Walter Rodney is an elegiac poem of the great Guyanese academic and political activist. Coming from Malika’s collection Pepper Seed, it again followed the theme of family, portraying the impact his death had on those closest to him.
I am really excited for the year ahead where I hope to feature many more poems. Thanks for reading and please spread the word.
Happy New Year!