Month: May 2018

Tom Palin at Cinderloo by Jean Atkin

cinderlooI’m sure most of you will know Shelley’s poem, the Masque of Anarchy, written in Italy in response to the Peterloo Massacre. It was 1819 in Manchester, and a crowd of up 80,000 people had gathered to listen to the ‘radical orator’ (a term of disparagement by his opponents) Henry Hunt speak about widening the franchise and challenging the corrupt political system. Due to a massive over reaction by local yeomanry, fifteen people were killed and hundreds injured. Hunt ended up in prison for two years. A widening of the franchise has always been fought for, and against. (I personally think, we should rise up to lower the voting age to sixteen). (more…)

Love Letter to the NHS by Emma Ireland

nhs_march_logoWhen I was born in the early ‘60s, I put my mother through a two day ordeal of labour, then was extracted via C-section; this was in the days when the scar of such a section was twice as long as it is today. So, it is little wonder that when leaving the hospital with my dad, my parents forgot to take me with them. Thank God for the NHS and all its efficiency, for an eagle-eyed nurse came running out of reception saying: ‘Haven’t you forgot something?’ Just over two years later, and my parents were playing cricket with friends in the stretch of scrubland outside our flat; when I was in need of something, I ran up to my mother who was in bat. The ball arrived at her stump the same time I did, she missed the ball and broke my nose. Thank God for the NHS. Aged sixteen, down to five stone in weight, everything had been tried, to understand why I was slowly dying – a nurse’s strike delayed final test results coming in, but eventually they discovered I had Addison’s Disease. Thank God for the NHS. And subsequently, I have frequented various hospitals as more diagnoses of auto-immune attacks have been found. Thank God for….yes, you get the picture. (more…)

Guest Post by Ali Jones: Is Home Really a Choice? (with poem ‘Overspill’)

housingHousing in the United Kingdom has always been an area fraught with disparities. When cities began to expand post-industrial revolution, and more places to live were needed in urban settings, people began to move on a scale that hadn’t been seen before.  This flocking of people from rural settings towards employment, allowed opportunistic private builders to provide densely populated and disorganised developments, which subjected many families to poor and overcrowded living conditions, without effective sanitation or natural light. There was pressure on the Government to begin looking at housing issues, and they were slowly persuaded to intervene. (more…)

For Display Purposes Only by Emily Harrison

Second from the archives for Mental Health Awareness Week, from the brilliant Emily Harrison

Proletarian Poetry

My son is now eighteen, has a full-time job and is happy. He is ‘functioning’. This comes after almost three years of depression which at its worst involved self-harm and suicidal ideation. He left school in Year 10, couldn’t cope with another school, nor a part-time one. All schools found it difficult to support him, besides giving him extra time to do tasks, which was not what he needed. In fairness to them, although we didn’t realise it at the time, he simply needed to be withdrawn completely. So for him, no qualifications, no ‘normal’ pathway that as parents you just assume they will take (but boy, can he play guitar and knows his way round a recording studio).

world mental health dayFluoxetine and psychiatry didn’t help; it wasn’t until he was free of daily commitments, went on mirtazapine and saw a therapist fortnightly, that he slowly came back to us. He is…

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Accident, and Hangings by Melissa Lee-Houghton

It is National Mental Health Awareness Week, so here is a poem from the archives by the inimitable Melissa Lee Houghton

Proletarian Poetry

wspdToday’s post is not about class. It is given over to World Suicide Prevention Day.

Three days before his GCSE exams, a boy in my sons’ school committed suicide. It was ‘out of the blue’, as was that of the well-known human rights barrister Michael Mansfield’s daughter. It is something we are all close to; one it twenty think about suicide, in the UK thirteen men a day kill themselves. WHO figures estimate that around 800,000 people commit suicide each day across the world. It is an epidemic we should not ignore.

The poet Abegail Morley has been posting poems in the run-up to the day by a number of poets, including today’s featured poet Melissa Lee-Houghton (you can read here). Melissa sent me a number of poems for Proletarian Poetry, which I was privileged to read, and will be included in her forthcoming collection. They are…

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Guest Blog & Poem ‘Voices’ by Lorraine Carey

20150622_113326 (2)Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. The amendment states: ‘The states acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’ It equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus, and has created an unworkable distinction between a pregnant woman’s life and her health.

On Friday May 25th, Ireland will hold a referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment. (more…)

King of Eggs by Bobby Parker

Imagine you are top of the tree. You have power, real power over many people. You got there with promises to change things around – a lot. It’s taken you a long time to get there, so you want action, for people to see that you are true to your iron fist words. But when there, you are frustrated by the fact that the path to your power is paved with countervailing forces; put there to curb the potential for your excess. You realise that you can’t do all that you wanted; all that you told people you would do. Frustrating, isn’t it? What would you do?

‘I would throw eggs/ onto the street/ late at night/ after the clubs had closed/ they weren’t rotten or anything/ they were perfectly/ good eggs’

Iron-Throne-Egg-Cup-king_grandeOne critical element of power is ‘threat’; in fact, most power is dealt in this currency, otherwise with the arsenal of nuclear weapons on offer, a peopled earth wouldn’t be long for this universe. With threats thrown around like deferent confetti at a royal wedding, things can get quite routine. Your frustration turns to boredom, so you sit in front of the telly watching the world watching you. You fire a few missives out there, shake the markets up a bit – gives you your morning fix.

I couldn’t see/ where my eggs landed/ I aimed for voices/ avoiding the odd passing car/ hoping for a headshot/ it gave me a silly buzz.’

You like the sound you are making, even if it is only at the pitch of a baritone’s breath. But you might begin to question yourself (in the privacy of your own mind).

‘sometimes I felt quite mad/ standing on the wet grass/ with a cold egg/ in each hand’.

But you carry on regardless. Surely, by keeping this up, the threats, the posturing, the elaborate signing of your name, that the change you wish for will happen, and people will see you in the same way your sycophantic mirror sees you. And maybe you’ll get to a point where you feel like Ozymandias, and command, ‘look on my works ye Mighty, and despair’. Or maybe, just maybe, after a chaotic two years or so, you’ll,

‘look down/ from the bedroom window/ at all the shattered shells/ and glistening yolks/ on the silent road/ astonished/ by [your] work/ and slightly/ afraid.’

Image-1Bobby Parker is a poet and artist who grew up and currently lives in Kidderminster, West Midlands. His publication history starts around ten years ago, published widely in poetry magazines in print and on-line. His first full-length poetry collection ‘Blue Movie’ (Nine Arches Press) was published Halloween 2014. He has written articles on poetry for The Quietus, and his controversial poem ‘Thank You For Swallowing My Cum’ was included in Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt Publishing – edited by Emily Berry). In 2015 he was awarded a grant from the Society of Authors. He has taught poetry workshops for Buzzwords in Cheltenham and The Poetry School. Bobby has toured the UK consistently for the past few years, promoting his books, mental health awareness and encouraging people to explore the possibilities of poetry. His new collection – Working Class Voodoo – is available here from Offord Road Books: and you can check out his artworks on his website


King of Eggs

When we tried to quit
I got so bored
I would throw eggs
onto the street
late at night
after the clubs had closed
they weren’t rotten or anything
they were perfectly
good eggs
my usual target
was drunk lads
shouting awful things
at girls walking home alone
there was a tall fence
around our property
since I couldn’t see
where my eggs landed
I aimed for voices
avoiding the odd passing car
hoping for a headshot
it gave me a silly buzz
and made Katy laugh
that’s all I wanted
we rented a house with a big garden
there was a pond
surrounded by lawn ornaments
birds dogs and a small boy pissing
creepy in the moonlight
sometimes I felt quite mad
standing on the wet grass
with a cold egg
in each hand
the neighbours’ lights
go out
one by one
often the street was dead
but I threw eggs
listening for the sound of them
smacking the pavement
so satisfying
like ice cracking
or popping the cork from a bottle
then I would go back in the house
to stare into the light
of the empty fridge
the way I stare
into open churches
creeping upstairs to look down
from the bedroom window
at all the shattered shells
and glistening yolks
on the silent road
by my work
and slightly