Guest Post: thirty one small acts of love and resistance by Steve Pottinger, with poem ‘Mothers’ Day’

Publication day for an author is a joyous, exciting, and a nervous day; and more so than ever because of the lockdown, which has been the main reason for opening up the site again during this time. So I am delighted to be featuring Steve Pottinger on the actual publication day of his sixth collection, thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’. Please buy it if you can, as a small act of love and resistance. Here’s Steve.

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steve pottinger“When we rang in the New Year, I don’t expect any of us thought our 2020 would include supermarket queues, panic buying, empty motorways, or an invisible Prime Minister, but here we are. The world is a quieter place, where we keep our distance from each other, do our weekly shop, and – in my case at least – spend far too much time online, seeking some kind of social interaction. For better or worse, our worlds have shrunk to our immediate neighbourhood, the few streets round us, the distance we can walk or cycle in an hour.

The place I live is nowhere special. It’s one of the sprawl of once-industrial towns that make up the Black Country. Outsiders would be hard pressed to tell where it begins or ends, and – on learning that a lot of people here see Brexit as a good thing, and returned a Tory MP with an increased majority at the last election – might think they know everything they want to know about it.

Spend time here, though, and you’d learn there’s a real sense of pride among the people who live in this small town. That the response to lockdown has been, for a team of volunteers to co-ordinate support for vulnerable residents, deliver food parcels and prescriptions, and liaise with local supermarkets for supplies. That helping each other – because you can’t ever rely on the government – is as much part of life here as the roller-shutters and the petty thieves.

small-acts-front-cover-130x200Many of the poems in my new book ‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ explore the beauty of life here as well as the grit. The wonder and the limitations. The poem I’d like to share, Mothers’ Day, is a celebration of our town which was commended in the Prole poetry competition 2019, and has taken on an added poignancy since lockdown. When I close my eyes, I can picture the faces of the people in this poem, I can hear the laughter and the chat, I can feel trouble waiting just out of sight, around the corner. And I can’t wait to be in that pub again.

The place I live is nowhere special. But it is remarkable. Like thousands of other remarkable, unsung, communities up and down the land. Maybe, when all of this is done, we’ll remember that.”

Steve Pottinger is a poet, author, and workshop facilitator, and a founding member of Wolverhampton arts collective Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists. He’s an engaging and accomplished performer whose work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, and he’s a regular contributor to online poetry platforms. He’s performed at Ledbury and StAnza poetry festivals, at the Edinburgh Free Fringe, and in venues the length and breadth of the country, from Penzance up to Orkney. His sixth volume of poems, ‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ was published by Ignite Books this Spring.

‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ is on sale here: https://ignitebooks.co.uk/products-page/steve-pottinger-books/

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Mothers’ Day

Let us sing a song of the tiny tattered townpub singing
of the pub at its locked-down, knocked-down heart
and of those who drink there.
Let us sing of Mothers’ Day and celebration
of the family night out
of a large glass of red and the make that a double
of burgers with all the trimmings
a side of onion rings and chips with everything
sing of curry and a pint and change from a tenner.

Let us sing of the bevy of traveller women
loud and drinking and drunk
and their don’t care a toss if you serve food
we’re bringing the pizzas in anyway
don’t think of stopping us
nonchalance,
sing of their children
who climb barefoot over the tables
over and under and through
caring nothing for rules.

Let us sing of the bar-staff, budget-uniformed,
overworked and underpaid
who are suddenly busy at the other end of the bar
who have a finely tuned instinct for looking
the other way
who know there’s not a chance in the world
the money covers this, no chance at all.
Let us sing of it being someone else’s problem
quite definitely someone else’s problem.

Let us sing, then, of the young manager
his stooped shoulders, his muttering, his sighs
as he wanders over for the third time
counting the minutes, praying to get to
the end of the shift without it kicking off,
sing of the token gesture of negotiation
sing of putting to one side the memory
of what happened last time.
Sing of his hope he doesn’t have to draw the line.

Let us sing of everyone in there
knowing the cops will be late, useless
sing of keeping one eye on the exit
of knowing that if it all goes down
well, devil take the hindmost.
Let us sing of take a deep breath and bear it
of it not being your business, none of it
of swallowing this down, of letting it slide.

Let us sing of hours measured pint by pint
of old men slipping home
of the crackling tension of trouble ebbing
like a tide you hadn’t noticed turn.
Let us sing of lost nights, last buses,
of just one more before you go
of pizza crusts trodden in carpets
of traveller women, beyond drunk now,
queens of all they can keep in focus.

Let us sing, my friends.
Sing a song of the tiny, tattered town
of the pub at its locked-down, knocked-down heart
and of those who drink there.
Let us sing of Mothers’ Day and celebration
of the family night out
of empty glasses and a last one for the road.
Let us raise our cracked and tuneless voices
and let us sing.

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