An anthology of powerful and thought provoking poems exploring the problems affecting the country through the people living in the rapidly changing urban landscape of Middle England. The book's pages loosely represent the house numbers of a street where people of different ages and cultural backgrounds co-exist side-by-side, with each poem telling the story of that household. Written with unflinching honesty, the authors use the language of the city to confront the big questions of immigration, conflict, loss and joblessness. Although set in Coventry, the themes the poems explore are universal. The collection will resonate with people in every village, town and city because these are poems that deal with contemporary issues that affect us all. Ranging from an industrial Britain in the shadow of the Second World through to the modern day, the poems reference Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Coventry's Nissan factory while including historical points such as the closing of the mines in the 1980s.
Approximately one third of all the poems have already featured in highly respected literary magazines including The Echo Room, The Stinging Fly, Abridged, The Meadowland Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Brick, Ancient Heart, Turbulence and Kumquat.
Number of pages: 80
Weight: 300 g
Dimensions: 228 x 152 x 11 mm
By author Anthony Cartright This powerful collection offers a vision of the middle of England. This is in direct contrast to the Middle England the mainstream political parties and media have made so much noise about for a generation. "My city lost its voice today," goes a line in Coventry Street. Joseph Horgan and Antony Owen's poems seek to regain that voice in some sense: a voice that is layered, elegiac, plural, and clear-sighted about the pain that much of this country is forced to endure while others look on. There is much pain in these poems, and a desire to escape from that pain, "people in the sky are falling up" says the opening poem Address, which turns a midlands street into a Chagall dreamscape. "Tonight I'll walk you home to the sky - wish upon stars of a 747" says The Dreamer of Samuel Vale House. For all the dreams of weightlessness, though, "anchors to childhood are heavy/sometimes they drown us" explains the The Little Things Destroy Us. And so they do. And the big things too - economic catastrophe, family history, race, migration, war, the accidents of geography - as these poems show us. The childhood anchors in question come from the 1980s, the decade in which much of the West Midlands, and the rest of the country's industrial areas, were turned to ruin. Thatcher appears once, she glides "by in a Daimler", a car made, of course, in the Coventry she attempts to destroy. But the roots are deep, Churchill is here also, an architect of a "city made by flames"; "what will you weave for Dresden from Coventry's stone elbows?" asks the poem Fat Man. These are voices of England aligned with the powerless on all fronts. In the beautiful title poem, " - a man left the house/and returned unmade from the smokeless factory." From Samuel Vale House today we watch, "bored kids re-open the factory/admire their work where there is none. This loss is the anchor which drowns people in these poems, the landscape too, "hills had their backs broken" explains Ghost Town, a poem that echoes The Specials' lament, and, with its haiku stanzas, references the Coventry Nissan plant, and a new economic world order. And yet the drowned voices are here. We hear them throughout this collection, which is one of the reasons it is important, The Dreamer of Samuel Vale House or the narrator who tells us "at the back of my house there are wild dogs" in Compline. This voice also tells us "I'll wait for partisans", and it is in this sense of defiance and endurance that some hint of redemption comes. "I still have hope between my teeth," we are told in Place. The Year I Loved England is rooted in place. The damaged terrain and the battered emotions become one, "a map of everything there's ever been" says The Curve of Chaos. This moving collection also offers some answers to its own complex, layered question, "Where is here anyway?", with answers that are both sensitive and vivid, in the voices of an England that it seems too many people have decided is too hard to love.