Jo Clement. Bloodaxe Books. (80p) ISBN 9781780376141

I saw this when it came into the shop and loved the photograph on the cover by Tim Walker, took a while before I bought a copy though as I had a little diet from buying.

Once I got it though I roared through my first read, stunned by the poetry and it’s very intimate look at the life and history of travelling communities.

The poem that initially hit me was “Inheritance” but in my case there were rubies in the ring, took me right back to my granddad and memories of the wake.

I read the collection for a second time as I was travelling through the North East on a sunny day, Darlington to Newcastle to Whitley Bay to Tynemouth, a lot of it read on trains and on the beach. It fit with the sense of place and people that Jo Clement was talking about and really got under my skin.

But the third reading is always the best, a quiet house, the rhythm, pace, and language become familiar, then it is time to read aloud, to sing the passion, sorrows, fears, and memory to the world and it was then that the real depth of Jo’s words could sit in my soul.

This was especially so with “Playing Cards” which became for me the words I kept going back to, wanting to find more in them, and really fearing for the future as we see more and more repression and criminalisation of behaviour that is deemed “not appropriate”.

A brave and memorable collection that really needs wider recognition, it need to be given to those who make decisions and look no further than labels and a history of the unknown and prejudice, to not fear the ousider.

Bottom Ko-Fi

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