Author: Peter Raynard

Publication Day for Manland my Second Collection

Today my second collection ‘Manland‘ is published by Nine Arches Press, https://www.ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/manland (£9.99 with free P&P). The first fifty orders will be signed. Nine Arches Press also do a very good book subscription,

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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.

Best wishes, Peter

The Communist Manifesto: a poetic coupling by Peter Raynard

On the day of Marx’s birth, my poetic coupling of the Communist Manifesto

Proletarian Poetry

The following appeared on the brilliant Culture Matters site, edited by Mike Quille. The site is a great source and resource of working class and socialist culture.

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…

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Book Review: The Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems edited by Neil Astley

Another reblog in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, from 2015 of a book of war poems published by Bloodaxe Books

Proletarian Poetry

modern war poems‘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)

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Postman in the Smoke, and Inferno by Antony Owen

I am republishing this post from 2015 by Antony Owen, as a mark of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Proletarian Poetry

rathaustrumWhen 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.

Coventry_Cathedral_after_the_air_raid_in_1940The 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…

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Free Anthology: A Fish that Rots from the Head (selected and edited by Rip Bulkeley)

A Fish Rots From The Head

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!

Dance Class by Hannah Lowe

Delighted that Hannah Lowe has won the overall Costa Book Award for her Bloodaxe Book, ‘Kids’. Here she is from 2015 with the poem ‘Dance Class’ taken from her 2013 collection ‘Chick’.

Proletarian Poetry

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.

Hannah-Lowe-wpWhat 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…

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Inside Out by Zeina Hashem Beck

This post from 2018 with poem by Zeina Hashem Beck about attacks on Gaza in 2014 shows the ongoing trauma Palestinian children grow up with.

Proletarian Poetry

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 Palestine-Logo-Bigworn 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…

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On This Day She

My original poetry mentor, the brilliant Jo Bell has co-wrote this important book of women’s lives.

The Bell Jar

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.

On This Day She: a typical spread

Artists and philosophers are downplayed as the ‘muses’ of men for whom they were…

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Callouts for Poetry/Prose Submissions from Culture Matters

There are a number of callouts for working class writing from the co-operative publisher Culture Matters

The Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2021,
https://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/poetry/item/3630-callout-the-bread-and-roses-poetry-award-2021

The Bread and Roses Songwriting and Spoken Word Award 2021,
http://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/music/item/3609-callout-the-bread-and-roses-songwriting-and-spoken-word-award-2021

A Scottish anthology of radical prose, the follow-up to Kist of
Thistles,
http://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/life-writing/item/3608-callout-working-people-s-stories-from-contemporary-scotland

The Brown Envelope Book,
http://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/poetry/item/3576-callout-for-the-brown-envelope-book

The Cry of the Poor anthology,
https://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/poetry/item/3631-callout-the-cry-of-the-poor

My Year In and (mostly) Out of Poetry, with poem ‘Rabbie’ for my Father

IN

My year began well. I spent a wonderful week on a Nine Arches retreat in Hartsop with fellow poets, Jane Commane, Jo Bell, Josephine Corcoran, Gregory Leadbetter, and Roy MacFarlane. At that point, COVID was still an inside page and I can’t remember it coming up in conversation. Roll on into the pandemic and I found it increasingly difficult to engage with poetry and the outside world more generally, so withdrew from most things beyond my front gate including social media.

1. OUT

Roughly two weeks ago, my 87 year old Father rang to say he was finally getting his second hip operation. So, although happy for him, the worry began its loop de loop. Despite a delay of over a year, he is one of the lucky ones. Born in the Gorbals in the early ‘30s, he’s been in many a scrape, from cracking his skull aged 3 to gang fights, bar fights, burst ulcer, kidney problems, and now his joints.

My extended family has been relatively lucky in terms of tragedies; but that ended this year, as it has for many people. The tragic irony was that ours wasn’t Covid. My wife’s cousin died in a car crash in April, after an impatient driver tried to overtake on the opposite side of the road, and hit him head on. He was a beautiful person; a teacher in Kent, aged twenty-six and just really starting his adult life. Because of lockdown restrictions, only his mother, father, and sister were able to attend the funeral.

[INTERLUDE]

Even though I have not read or written any poetry, I have still thought a lot about it, in particular working class poetry. In recent times, important poetry books of working class life have emerged, such as Caleb Femi’s recent Poor, all of Fran Lock’s brilliant writing, Jay Bernard’s Surge, Chip Hamer’s Class Act, and Julia Webb’s Threat, to name but a few. And I hope that 2021 sees more new voices.

I am most excited for Malika’s Poetry Kitchen 20th anniversary year, with its anthology (out in August) and series of events that will hopefully further fuse race and class within poetry. Malika Booker is one of the most inspiring people I have met, and Malika’s Kitchen is one of the most important things to happen in poetry, and I miss all of the members.

My son is a producer of drill and trap beats so I have been listening to quite a lot of Grime (check out GRM Daily). Some of the lyrics/poetry these young men and women are producing is lit (in my son’s parlance). Writing about poverty, gang violence, prison, it is a vital avenue for working class voices. I like Meekz, but I also love Ghetts’ video ‘Proud Family’ that goes beyond the horror stories, to portray his family life. Poetry can learn a lot from this genre.

2. OUT

Then, in the midst of my breakdown, I cancelled my third book (which was due to be published in two weeks). But after a few calmer weeks, my wonderful publisher and fellow Coventarian Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press, talked me round and the book will now come out in 2022 for my 60th year; although sadly I won’t be part the Coventry City of Culture’s Contains Strong Language weekend in September of next year.

Then, ratatattat eight days ago, my youngest son developed a cough and temperature, and tested positive for Covid. Three days later, my wife tested positive. I have a number of endocrine conditions, which puts me at heightened risk, so my anxiety hit the roof. However, the imperative of looking after the two of them, with the help of my older son, helped ease me away from my own dark thoughts.

Thankfully, he and I tested negative, so we are now running the Covid Hotel to feed my wife and other son and keep their spirits up. But it is exhausting, wearing a mask for most of the day, constantly cleaning, constantly stressed; though ten years a househusband has helped (unlike the so-called progressive Tony Blair, who admitted to not doing his chores – naughty boy). I can only imagine how truly horrendous it has been for nurses and doctors.

I am hopeful that things will be okay over the next day or two as their symptoms are subsiding, and we are nearing the end of enforced isolation. Though the best we could get for our Xmas meal is an Iceland frozen turkey crown – but it only makes me feel more working class 😉

My Father had his operation today, and thankfully it was a success and he should be home before Christmas Day. All of which makes me momentarily believe there is light at the end of a cliché.

I am hoping he can walk again in the New Year, and I have wrote this wee poem for him.

Keep well everyone, and I hope your year has not been terrible, thank you for continuing to follow Proletarian Poetry, even though like an old boxer, I keep trying to retire it. Much love to you all, and come Hogmanay, raise a glass for the sake of your own Auld Lang Syne.

Ma Da

Rabbie by Peter Raynard

For my Father, life has ever been
a braw bricht moonlit nicht
But Lauder was no Burns
for the Ayrshire Bard’s picture
was a fixture on the shelf
within a line of our kin.
Though my Father never read poetry
Burns was the man
like Celtic the team
whisky the drink
leaving Scotland the means
to go down South
behind auld enemy lines
armed with saltire crosses
their brogue voices lilting
the bars with songs
for the displaced who
wandered many a weary feet
singing their way home
for the sake of a fading time
for the sake of Auld Lang Syne.

Cheers!