Monday, 7 December 2009


Public Enemy’s last album was How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? A good question. Another question Chuck D might ponder is how you sell poetry to an uninterested public who don’t even buy books let alone poems by some northern bird they’ve never heard of.

I tell you what you don’t do: you don’t house said poems in an unattractive cover; with a badly staged, ham-fisted photograph; with ugly lettering and font; and a title with the unfortunate side effect of causing involuntary outbreaks of that ghastly song by Republica. Yes, there’s the old cliché about books and covers but come on.

Of course there are thousands of shitty book designs and I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about most of them, I’m only grumbling because whilst screwing my nose up I nearly missed out, and that was despite being familiar with Melissa from her Beat The Dust site. I only succumbed during a rare moment of fumbling around for something to read. And thank goodness, because it’s an engaging, entertaining and often very funny read. As you may have gathered by now, I don’t like to work too hard with poetry. I want it to say what it has to say in a few simple, straight forward, easy to understand words and bugger off. No nonsense. And I want to relate to them; nothing about blackbirds or rocks or whatnot. Mann’s poems are witty and wily and have a ring and a rhythm to them. Her words tumble out and some of the snappy staccato bursts sound like lyrics awaiting music. From tales of Yorkshire youth to London letdowns, from broken hearts to Jimmy Saville, from bus stops to public conveniences, these are our everyday trials and tribulations told without exaggeration or braggado.

The cover isn’t that bad and I’m being especially mean to a small independent publisher without an expensive art department, so for the price of a couple of pints chuck a copy in someone’s Christmas stocking - after you’ve read it yourself of course. And that Public Enemy album is better than you probably think too, so stick that in as well.

Baby, I’m Ready To Go by Melissa Mann is published by Grievous Jones Press, priced £7.

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