Wombwell Rainbow Book Reviews: Persona Non Grata edited by Isabelle Kenyon


The Review

Let’s celebrate – my Granny’s lavender oil on my wrist,
tangs of sandalwood from the old hippie
with tangled Afro hair and a pet rat up his jumper,
an albino called Ruby. The patchouli-rich leathers of a Hell’s Angel,
a fierce softie who writes poetry to recite in the street.

from “Let’s Celebrate” by Ceinwen Haydon

Three poems helped me explore  this outstanding collection. The lines above are from the first which is surprisingly the last in the book. In straightforward language it shows diversity and undermines stereotypes. It led me back into a book of 45 poets, divided into seven sections that explore social exclusion, including homelessness, political asylum, war and mental health.

Shoes, pointing in all directions
as if they could not decide which
way to go. Ahead the river,
wide and fast, its shore empty of
boats. And people.
The shoes, fissured,
soiled, heels broken; children’s clogs. As

they stood in their final sunlight:
prayers? Huddles of comfort? Piss and
shit leaking onto ancient leather.
Hurled backwards, no funeral flowers
save the smoke curling from the guns,

From “Shoes” by Frank McMahon

Each day she scissors the paper
into inch-wide squares,
isosceles triangles
and imperfect circles.

She won’t leave the house until after dusk
and then only to source fresh paper and beige food.
She never repeats a design,
treble-checks against her colour-coded walls.
It takes seven years to fill the room
and another to post each piece
through gaps in the floorboards.

She sustains splinters,
bruises and paper-cuts,
wraps fingers tight
in flesh-coloured bandages.

She imagines each scrap
butterflying its way into the space
beneath the house
settling bright into a darkness she has never experienced.

She is motionless for a week.
Her hunger for crumpets, rusks and pasta
grumbles at the corners,
shimmies along the dado rail,
lumbers up the staircase.

There is a rainbow goat in the hallway mirror.
It has a strange red energy
and magenta eyes that blink when she blinks.
Its indigo fur itches
where she wants to scratch.

From “Inbetween the cracks” By Sarah L Dixon

For Jo Bell and the 52ers

First published in The Sky is Cracked, Half Moon Books

Finally, last night, I did it.
Although I’m now sitting
in a cell in this stinking jail
of sweat and fear, I’m grinning.
I stole in to the private rooms
in Westminster and I graffitied
on every wall and every mirror
the names of all the benefit suicides.
I prit-sticked photos to MPs’ desks,
sellotaped them on plush seated chairs.
I then confettied the Speaking House
with photos of Aunt Beryl (put her head
in the oven), odd-job-man-Billy
always ready with a smile
(took an overdose) young Sally
(mother of twins) hung herself,
stuck them down with chewing gum
along the central aisle,
all the way to the Speaker’s chair.

From “Posted on the quiet” By Bethany Rivers

This is a book to delve into when for the sake of organisation I sink into the all too human trait of thinking of people as things, not flesh and blood and breath.

All profits from the book will be donated to Shelter and Crisis Aid UK. Isabelle, who is the editor of small press, Fly on the Wall Poetry, hopes that with the support of her readers, and the 45 poets involved in the anthology, she will raise an incredible amount for charity, providing support and advice for anyone who finds themselves homeless.

Here are the links:


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