Author: Peter Raynard

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.

This is a highly emotive, divisive debate with both sides passionate about their beliefs and the choices available. I wrote the poem ‘Voices’ (see below) after I read of an attack on an individual collecting outside a Catholic Church, after being subjected to vile abuse from a Pro-Life Campaigner. The sheer level of hypocrisy and turning a blind eye just baffles me. The individual was quoted as saying ” I found it totally insensitive, totally disrespectful and indeed insulting, looking for money to promote abortion outside the Catholic Church”.

I found it sickening when the discovery of infant remains were unearthed in a septic tank, little babies thrown in like refuse, without a second thought or the dignity of a name to mark their short existences.

As a mother, I found it heartbreaking to read of tragedies and ruined lives because of childhood sexual abuse by priests and nuns and the lengths the Church went to, to cover up and keep these individuals quiet. It is disgusting, insensitive, totally disrespectful and indeed insulting that the voices trying to silence those (women), are at the centre of this tsunami in changing culture. Misogyny’s alive and kicking within Ireland and the Church.

The Catholic Church’s control and influence in Ireland has taken a severe hammering with accounts of clerical abuse, mistreatment of women in laundries, selling children and babies to Americans (and subsequently faking these children’s deaths) the discovery of infant remains in Tuam, Co. Galway and a total disregard for the suffering and psychological damage inflicted on siblings, mothers and fathers and relatives who search for any scraps of answers.

Respect, dignity and basic humanity have been lost in a vortex.

So many lives have been destroyed by these atrocities and the traumas never go away.
As an Irish woman and mother, it’s imperative that we vote, as choice is the bottom line here. I have had successful pregnancies and know the pain of an unsuccessful one.

Let’s remember contraception was only legalised in Ireland in February 1985. Though it was still illegal to advertise contraceptives and use of the birth control pill remained restricted, the vote marked a major turning point in Irish history, the first-ever defeat of the Catholic Church in a head-to-head battle with the government on social legislation.

amnesty-03I would like to live in an Ireland, where I know the health of my twelve year old daughter is deemed important and valued, and not at the expense of a malformed foetus, or that her mental health is compromised, because a medic deemed her unborn child’s right to life more important than her own. I would support my daughter in her choice, whatever that choice may be. That’s what mothers do. There have been avoidable deaths in Irish hospitals, because of this Eighth Amendment; and the subsequent court cases brought by grieving widowers / partners have brought this issue into the public domain. Had these women been granted abortions (many in the case where the pregnancy was unviable and/or the foetus had died) a lot of these women would be alive today.

And whoever thinks abortion is an easy option is deluded. I don’t think any woman ever undertakes this decision lightly. She must live with the consequences for the rest of her life.

This is about choice. Women will continue to have abortions and travel to England for them if this Article remains. Women will continue to have unplanned and unwanted pregnancies for many complex reasons. Women are at the forefront. Our bodies should be treated with respect and integrity, as should our minds and mental health. Compassion doesn’t have a price. I respect choice and differing opinions. I respect democracy.

https://www.repealeight.ie/background-to-eighth-amendment/

Donegal poet and artist Lorraine Carey has had poetry widely published in: Prole, Epoque Press, Ariel Chart, Poethead, The Honest Ulsterman, Atrium, Live Encounters, The Lake and Picaroon among others. An advocate for mental health awareness, she has had two articles published on the website ‘A Lust for Life’ – an award winning Irish well-being movement. http://www.alustforlife.com/about-us. A runner up in the 2017 Trocaire / Poetry Ireland Competition and The Blue Nib Chapbook Competition, she has contributed poetry to several anthologies. Her artwork / photography has featured in Three Drops from a Cauldron, Dodging The Rain, Riggwelter Press, and Olentangy Review. Her debut collection From Doll House Windows is published by Revival Press. She lives in Fenit, Co. Kerry.

Voices

I have felt the flickers,
the flutterings of little arms
and legs in utero.
I have felt the drain of first trimesters,
the indescribable exhaustion,
sleeping afternoons away
as I waited for that glow,
I was told would definitely come.
I have felt that lioness love,
in the small hours watching
tiny fingers uncurl, pawing for
my milk like a blind kitten
as I fought to stay awake.
I have felt sadness for the child I lost,
would never feed, nor walk hand in hand to school.
Amending a clause for women’s rights
won’t quell the drain, the hastily booked, lonely flights
across the Irish Sea. The shame and fear incessant,
weaved within our culture.

Don’t think these women forget,
living the rest of their lives
reminded by a date, a newborn’s cry,
a boarding card stub.
Hear the voices, the tragic stories,
the denial of rights for the living,
the breathing, the menstruating,
the sepsis stories, the widowers accounts.
Save the judgement for reflection,
mirror in hand.
Those shouting loudest about rights,
are happy to preach about sin and contrition,
how soon they forget, selling children
to visiting Americans, dumping infants
in unmarked graves. They grasped dollars
and pubescent bodies with equal ferocity.
Undocumented abuse brushed under, relocated,
as thuribles belch loudly with incense and hypocrisy.
Save the throwing of stones, the shattering of glass
and hold that mirror close.

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: https://www.offordroadbooks.co.uk/working-class-voodoo and you can check out his artworks on his website https://www.bobbyparkerpoet.com/

 

King of Eggs

When we tried to quit
drinking
        again
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
watching
the neighbours’ lights
go out
one by one
often the street was dead
but I threw eggs
       anyway
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
       eventually
creeping upstairs to look down
from the bedroom window
at all the shattered shells
and glistening yolks
on the silent road
       astonished
by my work
and slightly
afraid.

List of Items Which Fall Through the Letter Box After I’m Dead by Dave Eales

_45592638_inflation_basket446x288One of the key indices for measuring consumer habits, and their effect on the economy, is the Consumer Price Index (CPI); called a basket of goods, its contents influence a number of policy decisions, one of which is inflation. The CPI is also an interesting measure of changes in cultural taste, and as ever on this site, this has implications for class; for example, as the Grauniad highlighted, this year’s index saw the following: “Women’s active wear leggings, quiche and raspberries are in vogue while pork pies and bottles of lager drunk in nightclubs are out.” I’m too much of a coward to make judgement of how this affects class habits, particularly as the influence of advertising is often high.

uk debt clockThe year before also saw the inclusion of gin, cycle helmets, and non-dairy milk. It’s an interesting exercise (at least I think it is), to go through the index and look at what you consume yourself. It gives you a distant sense of how you influence, or are influenced by, consumerism. However, this also shows how connected and co-opted we are by the products we consume, and the mechanisms we use to do so; a big one being debt. Debt is the diesel that fuels the economy. Years ago when I finally decided to get a contract for my mobile, I couldn’t get it because I didn’t have a debt record. I had never borrowed money (we don’t have a mortgage) so I couldn’t be trusted, at least by the computer which kept saying no.

Dave Cropped BWLife, as they say, goes on when we die, and in today’s poem by Dave Eales, List of Items Which Fall Through the Letter Box After I’m Dead, we find a fascinating and depressing set of missives from bodies that don’t know your body is no longer sentient. I’ll leave you to read the poem to see the detail, but for a moment, think about yourself dead (apologies) and what your letterbox would receive after you’ve gone. How much capitalism still chases you; still tries to get you contribute further to the nation’s debt; doesn’t discount you completely from the ever-changing consumer price index. Given the limited amount of spare landfill we have left, I’m sure coffins must be way down the list of consumer items these days. By the way of an end, a fun fact; we are now a global population of 7+ billion – do you know how many people have died since the dawn of people? (c107 billion). Have a great week y’all.

Dave Eales was born in Apapa, Nigeria in 1962. He grew up in Nigeria, South America & UK. He spent many years working in IT in London, as well as writing and drinking in his spare time. Dave lives in France and is currently working on his first novel.

List of Items Which Fall Through the Letter Box After I’m Dead

A letter inviting me to apply for a gold credit card at 17 % APR;
A bill from the Electricity company for £46.22;
A voucher entitling me to enjoy any king size pizza for £4.99 (garlic bread not included);
A letter sent to the wrong person, she no longer lives here;
An advertisement from a bank, promising the lowest rate mortgage available;
Some dust;
A postcard from a long forgotten girlfriend;
A demand for council tax from Islington Borough Council;
An offer to invest in Jupiter’s high income fund ISA;
A reminder from Central Islington Library concerning overdue books;
More dust, leaves too;
A First Direct bank statement, showing a credit balance of 342.39;
A birthday card, (unopened).

 

 

THE COMMUNITY CHARGE HOW WILL IT WORK FOR YOU? by Jane Burn

wattylerIn 1381 Wat Tyler led the peasant revolt against Richard II’s poll tax (Richard was a uppity fifteen year old at the time). The Black Death of thirty-five years prior had wiped out more than a third of the population, leading to a shortage of labour, thus increasing the power of the peasantry. The lords and landowners wanted to raise more money, in particular as the war with France was proving very costly. The peasants wanted a wage rise, the aristocracy wanted a poll tax. Things got a bit out of hand when Tyler’s lot marched on London from Kent, riots ensued, the King gave in, but was weak to implement promises, and Tyler had his neck slashed.

poll tax londonThatcher tried to do a Richard II in the late days of her reign. The Community Charge, aka the Poll Tax, was the introduction of a per head tax, which negatively affected those on low incomes, but was popular with blue blood Tories. But like Tyler and his acolytes, the working class were having none of it. There were riots across the country, with a major disturbance in London where police cars had wooden poles put through the windows. As I’m sure most readers know, this is what brought the end of Thatcher; not by a general election but by her own party, who finally swallowed their fear allowing the charismatic, alpha male orator John Major to win an election nobody at the time predicted.

20180421_161007sJane Burn’s poem ‘THE COMMUNITY CHARGE, HOW WILL IT WORK FOR YOU?’ takes us back to the detail of this regressive tax, the anger and protests it caused. ‘How will it affect six heads in a poor house?/ Don’t register, Don’t Pay, Don’t Collect./ It does not matter what you earn or own – / a duke would pay the same as a dustman.’ I remember a lot us were up in court for non-payment; I left for London at the time, leaving my unpaid bill behind. And although we were to suffer another seven years of Tory rule, Thatcher was thrown out on her arse. ‘It was like every Christmas come at once/ when we knew that we’d won, then she said/ We’re leaving Downing Street/ and we knew ding dong, that the witch was dead.’ Such levels of protest seem to have been beaten out of the working classes. But more than ever, I feel we are in a time similar to, if not worse than the days of Thatcher. The Tories have squeezed/sliced/butchered local tax revenues, so the Council Tax is on the rise; and the state is swiftly shriveling, offloading services to private enterprise. We surely need a modern day Wat Tyler, doesn’t matter if he or she lives in Kent (although that is quite a handy launch point), any place will do; and make sure you bring all your mates.

 

Jane Burn is a writer originally from South Yorkshire, who now lives and works in the North East, UK. Her poems have been featured in magazines such as The Rialto, Under The Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry, And Other Poems, The Black Light Engine Room and many more, as well as anthologies from the Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Seren, and The Emergency Poet. Her pamphlets include Fat Around the Middle, published by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire published by the BLER Press. Her first full collection, nothing more to it than bubbles has been published by Indigo Dreams. She has had four poems longlisted in the National Poetry Competition between 2014 – 2017, was commended and highly commended in the Yorkmix 2014 & 2015, won the inaugural Northern Writes Poetry Competition in 2017 and came second in the Welsh International Poetry Competition 2017.

 
THE COMMUNITY CHARGE
HOW WILL IT WORK FOR YOU
?

How will it affect six heads in a poor house?
Don’t register, Don’t Pay, Don’t Collect.
It does not matter what you earn or own –
a duke would pay the same as a dustman.
Buckingham Palace as much as your nan.
Our mum, taking us four kids to Barnsely,
shouting at them at the Town Hall, how
am I meant to pay for all of these?
Fuck the working classes
, Thatcher thought.
To those that stood and marched and fought,
raised placards, BREAK THE TORY POLL TAX –
thank you.
To those, battered to the ground by Thatcher’s thugs –
thank you.
To the APTUs, speaking for those who had no voice –
to the ones who helped us see that we had a choice,
thank you.
It was like every Christmas come at once
when we knew that we’d won, then she said
We’re leaving Downing Street
and we knew ding dong, that the witch was dead.
Thatcher, you wore
a tyrant’s crown.
Thatcher, you’re going
to hell.
Thatcher, you failed
to learn our strength.
Thatcher, you’re going
down.
 

THE COMMUNITY CHARGE…HOW WILL IT WORK FOR YOU? –
taken from a government leaflet explaining the new charge.

Don’t register, Don’t Pay, Don’t Collect. – APTU slogan.
a duke would pay the same as a dustman. – Nicholas Ridley,
Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment
We’re leaving Downing Street – part of Margaret Thatcher’s speech
on leaving Number 10

 

New Book: The Malvern Aviator by Richard Skinner

malvern aviatorToday may be Easter Sunday, and it may be April 1st, but in this wonderful 24 hour 365/6 day year casino online economy, you can’t be fooled out of finding buds of goodness shooting up (even if it is snowing up North). Richard Skinner’s collection, The Malvern Aviator is one such bud which is published today and available from Smokestack Books. I am proud to say Richard is a Stablemate and for a number of gigs, will be my poet bro’ as we embark on our Rollercoaster tour promoting our books. You can buy Richard’s book from Smokestack here.

Below is the poem ‘Dark Nook’ by Richard from the archive, about the working conditions down the mines of the Isle of Man in the 19th century.

Publicity photo

Coal has received most historic attention in terms of industrial development and of course industrial strife. Less is known of the importance of tin mining. There is a certain awareness of its history in Cornwall, but as Richard Skinner’s poem Dark Nook, and the research behind it shows, it was a feature in the Isle of Man as well. And unsurprisingly, like the experience of the coal industry, conditions were just as bad. However, you had to be lucky in the first place just to get the job. “I am Egbert Clague./I come every morning from Agneash/hoping for the nod from the bargain man.” When you did get the ‘nod’ it took you, “two hours to descend the ladders,/…The hole to go down is just two foot by two,” It was dangerous work and there was no compensation for accidents, so when Egbert’s legs are crushed, his wife has to work on the Washing Floor, sorting the ore from the stone. “It’s worse work than the mine—/she has no more feeling in her hands./I’ll be joining her there soon.”

Richard explains the research he carried out on a recent trip to the Isle of Man:
11010594_10152971672946169_8033033697610363003_oI found the island to be a beautiful place full of myth and folklore but I hadn’t realised how much mining had gone on there, and over such a long period, too. The Great Laxey Mine was by far the largest on the island and comparable to some of the famous Cornish tin mines. The first shaft was started in 1824 and sunk to a depth of 247 fathoms (1482 feet). The next 30 years saw a further three shafts sunk. Miners worked two shifts—6am-2pm and 2pm-10pm—but when production peaked in the 1870s, mining carried on 24 hours a day. Cheap foreign imports hit the company hard and the mine eventually closed in 1914.

Miners worked in a team of six led by an ‘elder’ who would agree an amount per day with the ‘bargain man’, who represented the mine, and would split the money with the rest of his team. If you were ill or injured, you didn’t get paid anything. Gunpowder explosions were the most common cause of accidents. Some miners fell down shafts, others were killed by falling rocks or timber. Carbon dioxide—or ‘blackdamp’—was a constant threat. Heavier than air, it would settle at the bottom of the mine. Explosive methane, found in coalmines, was not present in the Great Laxey Mine so the miners could carry candles, the flickering of the flame alerting them when oxygen levels were running low.”

Finally, don’t think that tin mining is any less important today and that it doesn’t have a large social and environmental impact. As a report by Friends of the Earth stated: “If you own a mobile, it’s probably held together by tin from the Indonesian island of Bangka. Mining is wrecking the environment and every year it claims dozens more lives.”

Richard’s poems have been widely published. His full collection, ‘the light user scheme’, was published by Smokestack (2013). His pamphlet ‘Terrace’ (also from Smokestack) was published in April 2015. He is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy and has published three novels with Faber and Faber.

Dark Nook

I am Egbert Clague.
I come every morning from Agneash
hoping for the nod from the bargain man.
It takes two hours to descend the ladders,
our tallow candles round our necks
like white asparagus.

The hole to go down is just two foot by two,
the spokes like blunt knives,
the blackdamp smelling awful. We chip
and hack until we see the sparkle
of the rich extraordinary,
haul it up through smoke to the adit.

One day, they brought me up
in the dead box, my leg crushed.
The Captain of the Mines
came in person to the cottage and said,
‘We can’t give you anything
and that will have to keep you.’

My wife Brenda is on the
Washing Floors now, sorting ore from stone
ready to ship to Swansea.
It’s worse work than the mine—
she has no more feeling in her hands.
I’ll be joining her there soon.

Meantime, I grow veg, read and
visit the village chapel on my sticks
to pray our Sooki will one day flee.
When I’m alone, I kneel and whisper,
‘The affection you get back from children
is sixpence as change from a sovereign.’

happy poem & sad poem by Jake Hawkey

Stop_the_FOBTs_Machine-e1360155648590Besides cleaning the toilets, one of the hardest things I had to do when I used to work in the local bookies, was taking bets from Dads of some of the lads I knew; especially Dads who had too much to drink. Coming over from the pub after three o’clock closing, they would empty their pockets on the horses before trailing off home to sleep it off and face the consequences. This was a time when there were far fewer races to bet on and no Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (like the old one arm bandit).

Lies, damn lies, and statistics, damn the betting industry over problem gambling. On the one hand, it is claimed that problem gambling hasn’t risen at all over the past fifteen or more years, since FOBTs were introduced. Yet, there are questions about the relevance of the methodology to today’s market. Putting that to one side, there is undoubtedly an increase in advertising in gambling and it also makes me wonder the correlation with the increase in payday loans. There is far too little regulation in this market. Although gambling and betting are synonymous, I think there is a difference between someone studying the form and placing a bet on a particular nag, dog, or football team, and someone coming into a betting shop and dropping their money in a machine of luck.

Jake Hawkey PictureToday’s poems by Jake Hawkey, takes on the juxtaposition of a loving husband and problem gambling and drinking. They remind me a little of Simon Armitage’s ‘Poem’ in the duality of a man’s personality: ‘And every week he tipped up half his wage./ And what he didn’t spend each week he saved./ And praised his wife for every meal she made./ And once, for laughing, punched her in the face.’ Jake’s poems are split neatly into ‘happy’ and ‘sad’: in ‘happy’ our narrator tells of his boss who had a drinking problem, but ‘she gave him a chance./ she stuck by him./ it’ll be seven years soon without a drink/ and they’re off to Spain next week.’ However, as you can guess from the title, in ‘sad’ it doesn’t turn out so well. ‘George has just been escorted by the police from/ the premises./ £900 went missing and George took it from the safe/ and spunked it in a local bookmakers.

It was the mothers of my friends (as well as my friends) who were the collateral damage of problem gambling and drinking done by the ‘head-of-the-household’ – although I do have to emphasise they were a minority. There are multiple reasons why someone becomes addicted to some form of stimulant; but what doesn’t help is when the ‘free market’ whether through advertising or deregulation is allowed to feed on the vulnerable. It’s like giving a drunk driver a bottle of whisky on the motorway, it is a car crash waiting to happen, with the family sitting in the back.

 

Jake Hawkey was born in south London in 1990, studied Fine Art at the University of Westminster and released his debut chapbook ‘all the flowers at the petrol station’ in 2016. He is currently teaching and listening for his next poem. You can get Jake’s debut chapbook here – Twitter: @jake_hawkey

 

happy poem

 

my boss George
said his wife hated him when he used to drink.
she used to pray for him to go to sleep;
staring up to the ceiling.
she still flinches to the sound of a can opening.

he had no control.

now, he tells me,
they travel the world.
they’ve been to Singapore,
Italia and many more.
he’s lighter on his feet.
ocean liners, one-liners,
making love in big hotel beds.
Sunday dinners joking with the in-laws.

now she adores him.

she calls the desk at work and I put her through
and even I can feel the warmth through the phone.

she gave him a chance.
she stuck by him.
it’ll be seven years soon without a drink
and they’re off to Spain next week.

this is a happy poem

and George you guys just might be
my hero and heroine.
 

 

sad poem

 

in a previous poem
I wrote about my boss George finding some balance.
George has just been escorted by the police from
the premises.
£900 went missing and George took it from the safe
and spunked it in a local bookmakers.

this man with a family, a beautiful wife and a mortgage
won’t be trusted around money again.

betting on Charlton to win when he doesn’t even know
who’s in the team.

maybe this is how he affords holidays.
maybe he just wanted to take his wife away again,

to make up for lost time.

I hope George figures out what’s driving him.

I hope George finds some balance.

I hope George slays his demons.

his wife phones in to ask what’s happening –
her loving voice down the phone –
I don’t know what to tell her.

 

Three Books from Smokestack in April: Stephen Sawyer, Richard Skinner, and Peter Raynard

Radically good poetry from Smokestack, April 2018

Stephen Sawyer, THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE

Stephen Sawyer’s debut collection is a book about public dreams, private desires and common fears. From a Merseyside housing estate in the 1960s via Pinochet and Thatcher to the floods in Sheffield in 2007, these poems trace the sutures of power and resistance on the body and under the skin through the mediations of love, death, class, art and oppression.

Paperback £7.99 – ISBN 9781999827601

Richard Skinner, THE MALVERN AVIATOR

Novelist Richard Skinner’s third collection tips certainties on their heads, making familiar objects in the world unfamiliar. From the Lollards to Saint Fabiola, questions of faith run through these poems as they engage with different poetic forms – the cento, the cinquain, the unrhymed sonnet, cut-ups and free verse.

Paperback £4.99 – ISBN 9780995767584

Peter Raynard, PRECARIOUS

A book that  tackles questions of masculinity, class, mental health and work head on. Rosa Luxembourg, Orgreave, 11-plus failures – it’s a book about precarious times, hard lessons and fragile lives, a defiant celebration of British working-class life and the people ‘who make the wheels go round’.

Paperback £7.99 – ISBN 9780995767591