It is said of Truman Capote that his book, In Cold Blood was the first non-fiction novel. Based on in-depth research, the book tells of a family murdered by two young men in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. It was part of what became known as the New Journalism by the likes of Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer and Joan Didion, who used literary devices to tell factual stories. Today, this type of writing has become known as creative non-fiction. Their approach was a form of social archaeology, where the writer is led by the subject, often taking them into strange situations (read Hunter S Thompson for more of that).
Poetry being the most (ahem) truthful of writing forms, I think could be described as creative non-fiction. It often tells true stories either of the poet or others’ lives, and relevant to PP giving voice to to people who are rarely heard or depicted truthfully; Anna Robinson did this beautifully on this site when portraying the lives of the women who were killed by Jack the Ripper.
The same is true of the two poems featured here by Hilaire and Joolz Sparkes as part of their London Undercurrents project; this is a fascinating ongoing poetry project to unearth the voices of strong, feisty women who have lived and worked in the capital city over many centuries. Each poet focuses on her different patch of London – Joolz north of the river and Hilaire, south – bringing to life the imagined, real, everyday and extraordinary women whose untold stories lie just beneath the surface. (more…)