Assembly Lines asks what it means to be here and now, in post-industrial towns and cities of the heartlands that are forever on the periphery. From schools and workplaces and lives lived in ‘a different town, just like this’, these poems take a historical perspective on the present day from the ground upwards – whether the geological strata that underpins a ‘dithering island’ or the ever-moving turf under a racehorses’ hooves. This is a new Midlands realism, precision-engineered, which seeks wonderment in unlikely places. By turns both fierce and tender, the poems in Jane Commane’s first book-length collection re-assemble the landscape, offer up an alternative national curriculum and find ghosts and strange magic in the machinery of the everyday. Between disappearances and reformations, the natural and the man-made, the lines are drawn; you might try to leave your hometown, but it will never leave you.
As a natural follow-on to the 52 Project of 2014, this book aims to help poets taking the next step in developing, working and participating in the wider creative community as a writer. How to be a Poet combines practical advice and topical mini-essays that examine both the technical and creative dimensions of being a poet. It’s a no-nonsense manual where we’ve replaced the spanners with lots of ink, elbow grease and edits. At each step, we ask plenty of questions – what makes a poem tick over perfectly, how do we get it started when it stalls, and which warning lights should you never ignore?