Poetry Playlist September
When police place knees,
at your throat, you may not live
to tell of choking.
Welcome to the Poetry Playlist! Once a month, we are going to recommend one of our favourite poetry collections to you. It could be newly published, an old classic, or a little-known gem that we found collecting dust in the back of a charity shop. All that matters is that our Arts & Music Editors love it, and think that you might too.
For September, our playlist is A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson. Published by Peepal Tree Press, winner of The TS Eliot Prize in 2019, A Portable Paradise is the poetry book that has been my companion throughout the long months of lockdown.
Though written last year, this collection became a timely, prophetic, poignant and perfect accompaniment to the year of pandemic and Black Lives Matter. Racism, identity, Grenfell Towers, Windrush are constant themes but far from being just a political piece, A Portable Paradise is a thing of beauty. Brutal tales of suffering are told starkly amid the beauty of life, living and families.
From the opening “THE MISSING”, for the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, to the closing title poem, this book captures, and bears witness to, our country and our times.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,
hostel or hovel – find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
shine the lamp on it like fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.