Monday, May 18, 2009

New Poem and other thougths.

Firstly, I should be cleaning. I am off work as my ankle is buggered but I have an impending parental visit, so I must clean. Cannot have my mother in a dirty house, what will she tell my brothers? Probably: "Matt's house is nice, but he couldn't even be arsed cleaning."

Secondly, Journal for Plague Lovers came out today and it is a really, really good album. Not a patch on The Holy Bible but it would sit comfortably between that and Everything Must Go. I like it and will inflict it on anyone foolish enough to come to my house or step in my car.

Thirdly, before I clean. Honestly, I have all the paraphernalia just need the application. But, to this poem. I do not think that one should spend too much time explaining poetry as it is all about personal response. How the words effect you and how the sounds roll through your mind. However, I feel I should explain it somewhat.

I grew up in a small former Mill town in Lancashire. It sits somewhat awarkwardly between Blackburn, Preston and Manchester. It is the kind of town that is far more pleasing to leave than to return to. It is dominated by Pendle Hill, the tallest and most domineering of the Pennines. Also, in the sixteenth century several poor, elderly women were excused of withcraft and hung. So the Hill becomes a Halloween hotspot for people with a mistaken belief in the afterlife.

In the late 90's, 1999 to be precise, a series of violent riots between the town's White and Asian communities erupted and became newsworthy. They were not riots in isolation as Bradford had race riots. However, they were marked out by the length of, and damage caused by, the rioting. "I remember when the town burnt". As a result of these riots, the British National Party (BNP) a far right and barely disguised facist party, descended on mass during elections. The leader Nick Griffin (a man with as many ideas as eyes, and a former Holocaust denier - in public anyway) singled Burnley out as a prime example of how multiculturalism isn't working. And every election year they gain significant results, with councillors being appointed (and then fired).
Some people in Burnley claim that the riots were caused by the sale of drugs, and this is a reasonable assessment.

The peom is a response to a childhood there, and Channel Fours belief that if they get a group of mixed race teenagers to "make art" it will change things. It won't. I have friends who work in the community and their hardwork and dedication is more likely to solve things that a gimmick for a Television show.

Also, as a caveat, and a blatant piece of self-protection, it is a work in progress and all comments will be appreicated. Negative or otherwise. Feel free.

Deprivation is for me what Daffodils were to Wordsworth” Philip Larkin

Burnley, a reflection

Disused factory chimneys
penetrating the sky.
Once they shot out black smoke semen
now they rest impotent.

My Grandfather pictured this whole area.
The history was his, in glossy photo books,
in thousands and thousands of discarded slides.

The boarded up windows
of terrace housing,
the dog shit filled back streets
and pissed up teenager dominated town centre.

The places my father played as a child,
are mostly gone, concreted over
for another McDonald's or
24 – hour Tesco's.

I remember when the town burnt.

The fascist billboards
near local round-a-bouts,
as the town became a battle
cry for Nick Griffin.

The shops in the centre,
close and fail,
Bernard Manning was banned,
Bernard Manning became an idol,

I am just from a small town,
I am from where the
history outweighs the present.
I am from the nowhere in between.

I remember when the town burnt,

TV is coming to fix everything,
Thank fuck for Channel Four,
Art will show that racism isn't pervasive.

The town is an animal,
lying prostrate on the vets table
pining to be put to sleep.

Nothing is going to change.
I remembered when the town burnt.


  1. Love the poem Matt. Perhaps not one for the Burnley tourist board though...


  2. When I read "I do not think that one should spend too much time explaining poetry as it is all about personal response. How the words effect you and how the sounds roll through your mind. However, I feel I should explain it somewhat."
    I agreed with you and skipped ahead to the poem, found it brilliant, without the explanation. Maybe that's cos I'm super intelligent, or it's just a good poem.

  3. DO - I dont think they would run a campaign with it but I'll send it off...

    Niamh, I do slightly contradict myself there don't I. However, sometimes a little back ground information is good.

    Thanks for the kind words.