Wombwell Rainbow Book Review: “The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster” by Sarah Wimbush

Last Dinosaur by Sarah Wimbush front cover

In the space of twenty-five poems Sarah Wimbush encompasses the character and geography of South Yorkshire that, also, has universal themes of change and how we cope with change. From “Strike” to “It’s the backs of things”, she shows a powerful anger for things lost:

“and the model villages

and the churches selling carpets

and the factories turned call centres,

the schoolyards, the ginnels, the smokeless chimneys

and beneath them, beneath all that, those lost men

and all that blackness still down there”

(from “The Lost”)

This is no soppy nostalgia for times long gone, but a sharp, witty analysis of how times, fashions, styles, employment changes a community. Everything becomes something else:

Opposite what was the Manager’s House

and next to the Old Junior School –

the haunt of floorboards creaking

under the early shift’s pit boots

(from “The York, Edlington”)

She explores the language:

“This is the voice. This is the sound of the broad and gubbed,

the Undermen, the too Young, the faced-up, the midnight blue

tattooed. These are mouths fit to burst with faultlines.”

(from “Our Language”)

The geology becomes those who worked it. Reminiscence seamed with TV. Men on the Moon, Your Dad. The list of cars her dad owned, the interiors described precisely by all her senses, the driving lessons “”Dads knuckles tight as wheelnuts” How the cars decayed “Rust rubbed her carcass.” And all that that Mother taught her “A spoonful of sugar or cake helps a fire to catch.”

This book is must re-Read. Something new every time, as is her previous collection: Bloodlines, and her forthcoming collection from Bloodaxe in 2022 called “Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands

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