Here is a sample – ths one with a warning, because it contains some profanity. I hope that you will see that this was not because I wanted to be provocative- although perhaps the issue might demand it. Rather I just wanted to be honest.
I can finally say it. The new book is out soon. Here is the cover;
It has been a long time coming. Five years in fact. It started out when Si Smith (more of him later) asked me to do a kind of poet-in-residence thing at an art exhibition he was curating entitled ‘World upside down’ back in 2017 (there are digital traces of the wonders it offered here.)
This exhibition was inspired (if that is the right word) by Donald Trump’s use of the Beatitudes in his inauguration speech. For me, this began a long period of writing words of resistance against an increasingly right wing world ignoring the crises of climate change and widening inequality.
A lot has happened over the last five years. Trump came and almost went. His trusty side-kick Boris Johnson the same. Oh, and we had this thing called a pandemic.
Writing protest poems is a kind of sickness – I found myself being sucked inside a vortex of negativity. I could still see compassion and goodness but it seemed stilted, fleeting and fragile. Then the Great Silence caused us all to STOP.
What next? Where do we see hope? What have we learned and where do we find inspiration for the journey to come?
These three periods- before, during and after the apocalypse give shape to this book which will be out very soon!
I am so grateful to Si for his incredible images. He did them at a time when he was desperately trying to work on another big project (which I hope to be able to shout about in the future.)
If you have never seen his work before, he is an artist, illustrator, print maker and graphic novellist based in Leeds. You can check out his other work (including the seminal ’40’ images and ‘how to disappear completely’.)
My plan is to release some of Si’s work alongside selected poetry from the book over on instagram, but here is a taster;
I want to live
I want to live in a world in which refugees are welcomed
As if coming home. As if the food they are given
Was cooked by their own mothers.
I want to live in a world in which people share what they have
With those who have nothing. Where fear of scarcity is foolish
Because we finally recognised abundance
I want to live in a world in which love for neighbours
Made hedges and fences inconvenient. As if real estate
Is not real after all
I want to live in a world in which guns are things for museums
Behind glass with suits of armour. Where tanks are
Used only to store liquid
I want to live in a world in which nothing is expendable, as if landfills
were already full. As if bags of bolts and empty cans
Can be used again tomorrow
I want to live in a world in which children are thrilled by birdsong
and gloriously appalled by black beetles. Where great adventure is made