Wednesday, 23 March 2011

RED - an anthology of Contemporary Black British Poetry

Review under development

Just started reading Red: Contemporary Black British Poetry edited by Kwame Dawes, published by Peepal Tree. Every poem in the anthology appears to refer in some way to the colour red, or its derivatives. Inevitably, this orientates the anthology towards the visceral and the political, which is probably why I like it. I can't say for sure however that this anthology accurately represents the range of contemporary Black British writing because an anthology of contemporary white British writers using the same reference point might be just as visceral, and just as political.

Even so, there appears to be a tremendous range here, from the poised and polished (John Lyons) to the rough hewn and engaged (Bernardine Evaristo). There's some fairly crap political poetry, heavy on rhetorical abstractions, and some very personal wiriting, with strong political and philosophical resonances. It's very difficult therefore to generalise about the work in here. Instead, I find myself drawn into an exploration of new(ish) writing, which comes at its subject from a surprising direction, allowing the reader to consider the familiar and unfamiliar afresh.

I confess that I like the uneveness of some of the work in here because I value ambition over creative-writing-school playing it safe blandness, engagement over professionalism. Rather than toil through the anthology though, trying to take it all in, from Linton Kwesi Johnson to Jackie Kay, I thought I'd live dangerously and focus on one poem, which whilst not quite epitomising the contents of the book, has some of the major features of it: namely, John Siddique's poem, Promises.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    My name is Raj Dronamraju and I am an American living in Malaysia where I teach English.

    I wanted to ask if you would be willing to review on your blog a book of poetry I’ve written entitled THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY which was released in 2010 on Post Egoism Press. The book can be found here – or I can have my publisher mail you a copy.

    I have a second book of poetry SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS coming out in June 2011. Newer poems I’ve written can be found here on my poetry blog – and other writing here

    Thank you for your time.