“Italian writer and director Pier Paolo Pasolini once wrote that if a poet doesn’t manage to scare his readers anymore, then it would be better for him to run away from this world. What kind of use can in fact be a tamed poet to the human race? Apparently, Dan Fante knows this well: his first collection of poems by the unpronounceable title, A Gin Pissing, Raw Meat, Dual Carburattor V-8 Son-of-a-Bitch from Los Angeles, shows that he literally aims with his works not only to scare, but also to scar his readers, biting their minds, hearts and souls with his words: indeed, Dan Fante’s poems are a poetic ebb and flow revolving on the readers conscience…” – Erasing Clouds
This book is about people today Focussing on the poet’s surprising and life-changing encounters in the North-West, Yorkshire and Bangladesh, this collection is a careful listening and a gentle plea for a more shared humanity. Adam Strickson writes about Kurdish refugees, Pakistani women, Van Gogh, Sidney Bechet and the inventor of hydraulics with equal love and attention. An Indian Rug Surprised By Snow is a serious, wise, funny and joyful book, a powerful poetic statement about how this writer has embraced the time and society he lives in.
This is the book that thoughtful readers of Charles Bukowski have been waiting for. Based on extensive research, it places Bukowski’s poetry in it’s American cultural context, and explores the key poems and collections in his development. It traces magazines, literary contacts and influences from the mid-1940’s to The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992).
Want to know about Bukowski and the movies, the Beats, Hemingway, Céline and Walt Whitman? About how and why Bukowski formed his unique style and image? And about where he fits in to West Coast and post-War American verse? Scholarly but accessible, this is the essential book to have. Also contains drawings by David Hernandez, rare photographs of C.B., and a preface by Gerald Locklin. – The Editor
Paul Birtill’s new collection Bad News sees the poet return to his favourite themes of death, relationships and mental illness with his usual brand of dark humour, deep-veined irony and more than one poem about Coronavirus.
Paul Birtill was born in Walton, Liverpool in 1960 and lives in London. He has published a number of collections with Hearing Eye, including New and Selected Poems. He is also an accomplished playwright and several of his plays have been staged at London theatres, including Squalor, which was short-listed for the prestigious Verity Bargate award.
“Packed with short, sharp, witty and irreverent observations.” – John Healy
“Makes me laugh and feel depressed at the same time, and that’s a rare gift.” – John Cooper Clarke
“Time and again his dark humour hits the mark.” – Harry Eyres, Financial Times
“His stark and hard-hitting verse skilfully echoes the neuroses of life.” – Irish Post
Vicky Foster is one very capable writer and Bathwater is a very personal story. Using her own real-life experience of what happens when violence spills over into family life, Bathwater is a gripping, ever-twisting, often moving, somewhat shocking and often agonising piece of work. Rather than a cathartic over-share, however, Foster goes way beyond writing what she knows in order to craft something that is simultaneously hard-hitting and poetic. She has written a work of literary beauty, despite the harsh and uncomfortable subject matter, combining prose, poetry and dialogue.
This is as bold a line in the sand as a writer can make to announce their arrival. Given her enormous talent and ability to weave a piece of work so well, there’ll be plenty more to come from Foster’s experience-fuelled imagination as she strides, confidently, into the literary and poetic world.
“You write what’s said, you don’t lie. Or say it didn’t happen when it did all the time…”
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is a novel inspired by the life and work of the Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar.
Best known for her classic black comedy Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Dunbar wrote three plays before dying at a tragically young age. This new literary portrayal features a cast of real and imagined characters set against the backdrop of the infamous Buttershaw estate during the Thatcher era.
A bittersweet tale of the north / south divide, it reveals how a shy teenage girl defied the circumstances into which she was born and went on to become one of her generation’s greatest dramatists. Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is a poignant piece of kitchen sink noir that tells Dunbar’s compelling story in print for the very first time.
Adelle Stripe’s writing has been described as ‘a genuine breath of fresh air’. Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is her keenly anticipated debut novel.
Milner Place: Born 25/1/30… First job timber faller before doing National Service 1948/50… Some time at Agricultural College but opted out… worked as barman… managed farm and estate… got involved in horse racin… 1953… sailed to South Africa… worked as undergound surveyor copper mines… managed fruit farm…1955 returned to England to manage another farm, left and entered journalism…1958… sailed to new York …1958/61… Bahamas, did some surveying work. Bought a dinghy and learned to sail. Then a sloop, freighting and fishing… skippered for Burl Ives… took over yacht in Miami… returned to England… left for Majorca…Dec 1961… smuggling run to Algiers during war, cargo one man… Supplemented income by smuggling money from England for Brit living abroad…1962… took over staysail schooner, working Balearics and wintered yacht in Ibiza…spent time in Bilboa and Madrid…Sailed to Italy, left Autumn 1963…wintered Madrid…1964…bought sloop and summered Burnham-on-Crouch…1965…took job as captain of ketch built in Holland and sailed her to Lisbon…met Count of Barcelona and his son (now King of Spain). Wintered in Gibraltar and Tangiers, then to Cadiz and Seville…back to Lisbon where did several ocean races with Count of Barcelona…quit job with ketch and sailed with Count for England…1966 Autumn…sailed own sloop to Bordeaux and via Canal du Midi to Toulouse…left for Denmark to convert a working trading schooner to a yacht… 1967…sailed same to Malta to effect conversion…did a delivery to Greece (minus keel)…August 1968 quit job and returned Spain…then France to pick up own sloop…lost it off Spanish coast, wandered round Andalucia, returned London courtesy of consular services…back to Malta to do honeymoon charter for couple, sailing to Tunisia via Lampedusa…1969…employed as consultant by Forte’s International Hotels on projects in Sardinia and Greece…left for Ecuador for job as consultant Tourist Investments S.A…9 months organizing marlin fishing fleet, Punta Carnero…left for Peru under threat of charge of Piracy, consultancy work on Manu River project, others in Brazil and Panama…1971… England and then Grand Canary, where scratched a living as a photographer…1973…took off for Mexico to write unsuccessful novel…1976…moved to Majorca now with partner, Dorothy and stepson Paul…1977 first poems published in Spanish…trip to Canada – hashish smugglers – didn’t…1979/82…Boroughbridge, N.Yorks… worked as petrol station attendant, filling shelves at supermarket, night-watchman and running a B&B…1982/87… ran hotel in Alston, Cumbria until bankrupt…Jan 1987…came to Huddersfield, went to workshops, became sort of poet.
passed are not.
When childhood friends meet again to reminisce and compare scars a fresh wound waits just around the corner. One rainy night at the wrong end of town, and a pub crawl along Memory Lane takes a hard right down a dark dead end in Barney Farmer’s second novel, Coketown.
This beautifully intricate collection betrays a gimlet eye for detail and a huge passion for the tiny dramas of everyday life. Kath McKay’s dense and fragmentary lines wind themselves around the subconscious, recounting the quiet firestorms that fuel human relationships and the seismic reverberations that can often ensue.
CCTV cameras, TV recording equipment, microphones, all capturing and recording events in peoples lives. In today’s Big Brother world, these constant intrusions are at once a threat and a comfort – moments would be lost forever without surveillance. Tim cumming tells of events caught on camera as they happen to disparate protagonists, seemingly at random, but which dissolve into one another as they loose partners, jobs, identities and belief. “Contact Print” is set in a traffic jam on the Holloway Road in London. Its hero is Tony Harris, who is seen driving away for the last time from his married girlfriend’s house into a traffic snarl-up, a demo, a pub, a maze of memories, the city or the city itself, repeating itself to the horizon, which finally swallows him up. Along the way we are treated to arresting images of urban life, from the kidnapping of a junior minister to doing smack in the toilets of Paddington station. This is a world of personal and political instability, captured with photographic accuracy.
Tim Cumming’s poems have been published widely in Britain and America, and he writes regularly for The Guardian and The Independent. His work has been broadcast on BBC radio and TV, and he has featured in the New Voices season at the South Bank. He lives and works in London.
The thread connecting the tales in ‘Corksucker‘ is the years Fante spent as a cab driver and self loathing alcoholic in the pitiless sunshine of Los Angles. All of the anger and rage of the novels are here, yet the format of the short story allows him to shift focus away from Fante as anti-hero and focus on the bizarre and damaged characters who come in and out of his orbit: the sad, petty, spiteful alcoholic doorman known as Wifebeater Bob, the beautiful, grief-crazed, tragic Mrs. Randolph and most memorably the smacked-out, fast talking, amoral Libby who along with his girlfriend Niggabitch and their insatiable pet boa constrictor form the nucleus of one of the collections stand out stories – the outrageous, ghoulish black comedy ‘Princess.’
Cornrows and Cornfields is a heartfelt journey from the childhood fields of Indiana to the glittering metropolis of Chicago. Spinning together memory, popular culture and personal politics, celeste doaks makes words dance, weep, wail and sing – often in the space of just a couple of lines. This sublime collection of delightfully bold and vivid poems burn upon the mind’s eye long after the final page is turned.
Born into slavery on a U.S. plantation in 1759, Daniel has no experience of life beyond the boundaries of his masters’ land until an event occurs which changes his life forever. Daniel is cast out of the plantation into a hostile world. He embarks on a journey which will span continents, test his courage and endurance to the limit and expose him to the horror of the slave trade.
Daniel’s experience as a crew member of a slave ship is so profound that he becomes determiend to campaign for the abolition of the UK slave trade. In doing so, he adds his voice to those of the great reformers of the age, inclduing Thomas Clarkson and the great William Wilberforce.
Daniel’s story is testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and how one man can make a difference. As we approach the anniversary of the abolition of slavery act, Daniel’s story reminds us of the determination and fortitude of those who brought about that change and continue to inspire us.
“At the multi-laned intersection to the M20 I listened to Alanis singing her heart out about the pain of isolation and loss and I burst into tears in an Oxford Green Jaguar X Series 3 litre car.”
Like missiles, these poems shoot out into the world seeking light and warmth from out of the darkness of illness. Peter Carr’s poetic voice mirrors the fast-paced juxtopositions of a life previously spent in an internationalist world of commerce. Wide-ranging and uncompromising, ironic, darkly comedic and sometimes bitter, and populated by the unconventional, the displaced and the lonely, the collection is nevertheless bound together by the realisation and need of the importance of human encounter, companionship and love in an illusory and earth-shifting world. – Maggie Harris
Doom 94 is Jonevs’ debut novel, published first as Jelgava 94 in Latvia in 2013 and was quickly proved to be a big hit and bestseller. Translated into 11 languages already, it is here for the first time in English.
The story is set in the 1990s in the Latvian city of Jelgava and looks at the burgeoning craze during this decade for the alternative culture of heavy metal music. Jonevs takes the reader deep inside the world of music, combining the intimate diary of a youngster trying to find himself by joining a subculture, as well as a skilful, detailed, and almost documentary-like depiction of the beginnings of the second independence of Latvia–where Jonevs is the first writer to stir up memories of this period through a fully-fledged literary depiction.
Doom 94 is a portrait of a generation searching for their identity and up against the world, trying not to become ‘one of them’. But is it for real? Can any adult keep the promise made as a child?
Characters born into the celebrated Viz comic strip, ‘Drunken Bakers’, are here for the first time immortalised in a book. A day in the life: the decline of the independent bakery, and the steeper decline of the independent bakers within it (cake and bargain booze included). A harsh reality displayed without apology, elbowing its way into our comfort zone bringing laughter and the smell of stale beer.
At Wrecking Ball Press we wait in great anticipation for stuff like Drunken Baker by Barney Farmer to drop through the letter box. It’s what we do… A fisherman waits for a fish to bite. A hypochondriac waits for death. Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot. Bob waited in vain. We wait for the barman to catch our eye. We count the minutes before it’s time to go. The prisoner waits for sentence. I’m waiting on a call. We’re all waiting to be seen. We all watch the news, hold our breath and wait for sense. We play the waiting game. All publishers wait for the next great book. We’ve been waiting 21 years and it’s finally arrived.
Earwigging is a journey, never lingering for too long in any one place. It is the written equivalent of walking through a train station or waiting for a friend in a pub, conversations drifting in and out of earshot, only ever in part and neither beginning nor resolved. It is the overheard world. It is poignant, it is as unreal as only reality can be. It is hilarious.
Exire is not a novel. It is not a collection of short stories. It is, instead, both of these things: stories that may stand alone whilst being inextricably tied together. It is Helen Mort’s first foray into the world of fiction beyond poetry.
Exire: Dystopian Britain, the year unspecified. A new website, Exire, offers those who feel disconnected from their lives one last act of choice, packaged as a bespoke service. In this unsettling collection, voices fade in and out, people connected by Exire’s troubling appeal. At the heart of it all is Lorna, a young musician who has made a painful decision. We hear her story in reverse.
W. H. Auden, in his essay, The Poet and the City, (the Dyer’s Hand, 1962), starts with a quote by H. D. Thoreau: “There is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting an honest living…….One would never think, from looking at literature, that this question had ever disturbed a solitary individual’s musings.”
Auden covers much in this essay, but it’s his concept of the modern hero which is relevant here: “the man or woman in any walk of life who, despite all the impersonal pressures of modern society, manages to acquire and preserve a face of his own.”
In Geoff Hattersley’s latest collection, Harmonica, we have Auden’s hero; in fact, a succession of them. These are heroes battling against the complexity, confusion, drudgery and relentlessness of making ends meet.
This collection is appealing on many levels: for its simple language, the way he maps the struggle against these ‘impersonal pressures’, the optimism you unearth as you read more deeply, and the love of people.
Andy Fletcher’s poetry ranges from simple, stark, haiku-like lines to rambling dreamlike prose, by turn both delightfully surreal and as clear as a raindrop caught by sunlight. You will return to these words again and again and be rewarded with something fresh and arresting at each visit.
Poems from Indonesia and the UK by Rufus Mufasa, Irma Agryanti, Billy Letford, Mario F. Lawi, Roseanne Watt, Jamil Massa.
The Indonesia – UK Poetry Indigenous Language Exchange is a project conceived by the British Council, Makassar International Writers’ Festival, Contains Strong Language and Wrecking Ball Press to enable cultural and linguistic exchange between poets from East Indonesia and the UK.
This project also celebrates UNESCO’s Year of Indigenous Language. This project is part of the broader programme of events for the Indonesia Market Focus at London Book Fair and is supported by the Indonesia Ministry of Education and Culture, the Indonesia Agency for Creative Economy (Bekraf) and the Indonesia National Book Committee.
Luísa from Nothing, born Matilde Boshoff in 1911, is the last living heiress of Nothing, a vast estate in the wine countryside north of the Portuguese capital. Without heirs of her own, the only way to save Nothing from the nothingness of disappearance is to accept living. In anonymous company, Luísa tells the story of Nothing and the paradox of a place name that nullifies existence. Luísa is also a non-existence, with a name she never took but in which she has lived from birth.
Going back to the early 19th century when Nothing was created out of the chaos of the Napoleonic Invasions, Luísa traces the story of her family and its intersection with Portuguese and world history in a place where oddities and unpronounceable possibilities were always as natural occurrences as ghosts and werewolves. After a life of losses and brushes with the unfathomable, Luísa realises Nothing is her own eternal self.
J SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do.
Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog.
A stranger appears out of nowhere in a prison library and assaults a guard. Locked in solitary confinement, he relates his story to a listener over the course of one night.
Kingdom, the third novel from Russ Litten, spins together magical realism and hard-boiled psychodrama into a heartbreaking urban fable of human awakening. Ghosts may not exist – but sometimes they are real. Do you believe in life before death?
Mysticism is history. Chinna de Kock has awoken to the fact that she cannot override the virus mutating at warp speed inside her. Traumatised by events in her Cambridge lab, she has stopped eating and speaking, but her calculations allow her to feel, map and assess her way forwards. With her estranged mother Elektra riding out the pandemic in Bali, these mathematical incantations are her only hope for survival.
Enter Jill Purce, a cult ’70s documentary maker who Chinna, from her grandmother’s bed in Sumatra, watches fervently. Chinna is enamoured: by Jill and her belief in the vitality of change, and by the piercing gaze of her son, Chinna’s professor Merlin, whose vision of fungi as flesh, life as polyphony, has turned viral.
Exuberant and unforgettable, Nada Holland takes the reader beyond easy stoicism and into more puzzling terrain. Uncovering the mysteries that bring together East and West, future and past, and mother and daughter, Motherborn is a celebration of our emergent and entangled life on earth.
Think Harry Potter with no magical powers, or friends, living in south london, doing a job he hates, stressed, paranoid and lonely. I loved Mark Kottings bleak, funny and poetic tale of a london cab driver…
Like Travis Bickle sedated by the Tindersticks, a man simmering on the edge…
A funny and moving tale of a man working too hard, for too long, for too little –Sean Lock
The second collection from poet, sonic artist and filmmaker Fiona Curran – Never Try to Outswim a Bear – is a stunning combination of dark humour, grief, nature, botany and science: Reflecting on art, love lost and found, and the poetry of place and displacement – from where she sends us knowing postcards. Within these pages, Curran captures fleeting moments and momentous events as so many impressions caught in the corner of an eye. Her work resonates with those who are alive to their own burning experiences. These poems are a curveball. Catch and propel them forward, on fire with your own thoughts.
“If Fiona Curran’s Never Try to Outswim a Bear reincarnated as a canvas of earthly delights in every vividly ornate corner you’d find a woman, unsurprised as a prophet, observing an inner landscape of literary, painterly and cinematic scenes of lust, love and betrayal with limitless candour. Her sharp wisdom is hard-won; her language plunges itself into the dark earth then waves its roots in the air like victory.”– Sandeep Parmar
“Fiona Curran is a bold northern voice. She introduces us to her world through the urbane and the rural, the scientific and the mystific: from the decadence of her Florentine lovers to the patience of an 18th century milkmaid. I like Fiona’s poems because she writes about real people who truly exist and whose lives and loves I can believe in.” – Wilton Carhoot, editor of The Slab
“Nosebleed is the first time you feel alien to yourself, even as a child, so imagine how I felt, when this came out.”
Isaiah Hull’s Nosebleeds is visceral and raw, a voice far older than the poet’s young years, exploring family, life, and the real world. Hull’s writing is soul-searching and down to earth, Nosebleeds an exploration of expression, traversing emotion and form. It is hard-hitting poetry, written to be spoken aloud but making the transfer to the page with remarkable ease and clarity.
Daring, funny, fierce and musical, Eva Salzman has in her new collection managed to combine a robust yet never unsubtle take on modern life and love. Addressing itself primarily to the muse and the blues, this ‘songbook’ is woven through with references to history and myth so that the personal is always balanced by an awareness of community to which she sings.
With two published collections to her credit and this remarkable recent compilation, Eva Salzman is one of the most accomplished poets working in Britain today. She is a New Yorker, but such is the universal catchment area of poetry now that her living and writing in Britain does not make her either an American or a British Poet, but simply a very good one.
The epigraph to the collection draws on St Thomas ‘When one becomes two what will you do?’ and this becomes the central metaphor of the book: twins, doubles, doppelgangers. For a short book with so light a touch there’s a tightness and surety to the way in which preoccupations are worked through. So that amidst the personal lamentation of ‘Remembering Before Forgetting’ and ‘After Verlaine’ are juxtaposed a poem on the Brooklyn Bridge, a poem about the Buddhas of Bamiyan, as well as a poem on the cutting of the OUP poetry list, the sharply satirical ‘In the OUP hospital’ where she writes ‘I’d rather be lying unpublished / than be published by you and be dead’. Refreshing, dangerous, ironic, always surprising, this is Salzman at her most Salzmannesque. – Poetry Book Society Special Commendation Spring 2003
Dense, rich and satisfyingly complex, this collection draws on a fertile heritage of myth and legend, evoking lands long forgotten and landscapes rendered new by this most modern and lyrical of voices.
A giant of modern literature, Niall Griffiths’ first poetry collection is every bit as exhilarating as his celebrated novels. Culled from two decades of notebooks, diaries and the sodden backs of beermats, “Red Roar – 20 Years of Words” celebrates Griffith’s journey towards ecstatic redemption through language. Here is poetry that strips the human experience back to its barest bones and exposes the raw and unflinching essence within.