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November Review – From Nana’s Luck to The Last Gang in Town?

It’s been a great second month for Proletarian Poetry (I would give you the stats but that’s a bit too geeky. I am however, warming my hands over them now).

I have got to know some great poets who have kindly agreed to have their poems featured on the site. As I’ve said before, in terms of working class lives, this is about the poems not the poets; I secretly believe that all poets have written a working class poem, they just don’t know it yet – it’s a class consciousness problem 🙂 Also as I write this, I am reminded how many of the poets I have seen read this month; all are great performers in their own right and way – you really can’t beat live poetry. For example, on Saturday I was at The Shuffle where two featured poets on PP, Inua Ellams and Karen McCarthy Woolf read alongside, Tom Chivers, Holly Corfield Carr, Gale Burns, and Harry Mann. The theme was the environment and there were a great range of poems on the subject.

This month’s poems have covered a number of themes to do with: family, gender, identity, racism, urban life, work and industry, food, and music (got to have the music). There are mothers, fathers, grandparents, butchers, assembly line workers, brass bands, activists, priests, loan sharks, and (to use the title of Inua Ellams’ poem) Lovers, Liars, Conjurers and Thieves. (more…)

A Cento from October’s Poems

photo (3)It has been a great pleasure to have featured eleven poems up to the end of October. In order, these were:

1.  Birmingham Roller by Liz Berry (with a video of Liz reading it so beautifully).

2.  Hoxton Stories by Karen McCarthy Woolf

3.  This Zinc Roof by Kei Miller.

4.  North by Paul Summers

5.  Shitneck. Playing the Name Game by Steve Ely (with a video of him reading his poem Arthur Scargill)

6.  Quality Street by Debris Stevenson (with a great performance from her at Wordsmiths & Co)

7.  Portraits of Women – East London 1888 by Anna Robinson

8.  Living Space by Imtiaz Dharker (with a video of her reading two poems for Bloodaxe)

9.  Last Orders for Chesterfield by Helen Mort

10. A Conversation with a Man in Wetherspoon’s by Raymond Antrobus (with a video of him acting it out)

11. I Beg to Apply for the Post by Catherine Graham

(more…)

Debris Stevenson’s Quality Street

debris stevenson pic

Debris Stevenson

Today’s featured poem is by Debris Stevenson from her pamphlet collection Pigeon PartyQuality Street takes a family day out by the seaside (Skegness) ‘Forgetting about Christmas and holiday pay’ and shows the love between parents, ‘Mum and Dad, one cod, one kipper, sit on the pier, touch knees’, and the real existential threat posed by seagulls to our staple fish and chips, as they ‘see pick-nick families – unhappy and hungry’.

Debris is one of a growing number of young British poets who, in her own words, ‘like poems spoken, written, sung’. I saw her at Wordsmith’s & Co at Warwick University where I could see the performance of her poetry but also its lyricism, which really came through when I read Pigeon Party. (more…)