Raymond Antrobus

In Praise of the Poetry Cafe and other poetry places

poetry cafe frontLast night I intended going to the Poetry Cafe but life got in the way. It was the second London event of Telltale Press, a poetry collective (this site likes collectives) set up by ‘poetgal’ Robin Houghton. There were some great poets on the card and besides wanting to meet Robin for the first time, I was looking forward to hearing Catherine Smith reading from her new collection, The New Cockaigne. Instead, after doing many other things, my thoughts veered towards that dark, featureless street in the heart of Covent Garden. (more…)

Raymond Antrobus Conversation with a Man in Wetherspoon’s

raymond antrobus picIn 1988, one of Thatcher’s dying policies to keep the working classes ‘happy’ was all day drinking. At the time we loved it. For me personally, working in the bookies, it meant not having the 3.30 pm spill out of drunks rushing the counter with bets. Needless to say my boss wasn’t happy with the loss of losers. One thing that became a fixture when the novelty wore off, was The Monday Club, the counterintuitive antidote to a weekend binge – drink all day on the Monday. Good times, good times.

Anyhow, the first line of today’s featured poem by Raymond Antrobus, really hit home (Wetherspoon’s on a Monday morning is like a retirement home). For many this goes beyond the simile. This poem is a wonderful divide between Ray setting the scene, (no-one takes off their jacket/they won’t admit how comfortable they are) and the verbatim story of the man’s life (Home is complicated now because I know too many places that it might be and not all of them exist). And there is the mix of nice humour (it’s hard to be honest in the same country you do your taxes) and the sad (it’s hard to love someone when you know them too well). But this is a poem about place and identity; of where you come from, where you live, where you would like to live, and therefore the importance of place in identifying who you are. (more…)