alison brackenbury

December Review and Happy New Year

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.

bewketu seyoumFirst 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. (more…)

Pensioned by Alison Brackenbury

alison brackenburyAlison Brackenbury‘s poem ‘Pensioned’ takes us back more than a hundred years to tell the story of an unlikely friendship between her grandfather, Frank, a gamekeeper on a large estate in England, and a local traveller Hezekian Brown. Alison gives us some background to the story below but I liked this poem because of the sweep of history it covers and how little details tell a great deal; ‘a gamekeeper/who would have shot him for a hare‘ and ‘safe beneath/his Council roof‘.

It then moves on half a century to a village scene where Hezekiah rides ‘his skewbald mare/hauling small scrap on a loose rein‘; here you get a sense of how after the Second World War, things were more free with little traffic and ‘wind-blown fuschias, raspberries‘ and there was a real optimism about the future even though this was a time of austerity. And then, fifty years more, we are shown that whilst things are so very different, with rising sea temperatures and crowded streets, we still send ‘others’ sons to distant wars‘ and we are again in a time of austerity so that ‘now we poor’. But I also think the title, makes us think about what politicians have pensioned off to give us a false sense of prosperity: council houses, national utilities, North Sea oil, our taxes to save the Bankers, etc.. (more…)