96pp, perfect bound paperback, Smokestack Books, 2010, £7.95
ISBN 978-0-95609341-6-8/ Includes: Keir Hardie Street (with extensive footnotes), 'Widdershins Edwardiana?' and 'Clocking-in for the Witching Hour' (new and revised edition)
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2011 TILLIE OLSEN AWARD
Working Class Studies Association, USA
Allan Jackdaw, an unremembered Edwardian poet, undertakes a fantastical journey on the hidden Sea-Green Line of the London Underground. Along the way he meets the accidental capitalist Short Shanks the Shopkeeper, the Hermit of Hercules Buildings (William Blake), The Turpentine Prophet (Robert Tressell), and the Ghost of a Poet (John Davidson). When Jackdaw disembarks at Keir Hardie Street, he is in a secret, parallel London, a living, bustling socialist utopia...
Born in a haunted corner of Scotland, of kelpie-
Humped lochs and Pan-piped galloping woods,
Close to Claverhouse's groomed dragoons;
Illegitimate son of a servant-girl from Legbrannock,
Step-sired by an atheist carpenter,
Schooled in obscurity's cramped one-roomed house,
Raised on porridge oats and Robbie Burns --
Fuelled him on compassion's damp-steaming anger --
Fired in the pit of his belly's grumbling brogue...
Some Review excerpts
Alan Dent in The Penniless Press
Morrison's technique is different from the ethos of understatement which dominates modern poetry. Rather than shortening the leash on the poetic poodle he sets his Rottweiler free. The language freewheels and tumbles. It piles up like the traffic on a bank holiday motorway. The effect can sweep you along. The second half of the collection explores the horrors of night-shift working. ...There is an echo of Fred Voss here and much recognition effect. Morrison is a poet who sticks to his socialist guns (metaphorically of course) and who has the chutzpah to pump up his language till it almost bursts. No-one could accuse him of being a slave to the modes of modern writing.
Alan Morrison And The 'Conscience-Ridden' Tradition Of British Socialism by Prakash Kona on Stride
...The power of Morrison's book partly emerges from the fact that it takes a clear stand by opening with Oscar Wilde's quotation from The Soul of Man under Socialism ... Modernist influences especially Pound and Eliot can be observed in how Morrison uses the technique of evoking history through places to suit the central argument of the poem. Keir Hardie Street is guided by passionate conviction; although like a true modernist Morrison never sacrifices form to content. ... How movingly Morrison recreates the vision of a socialist world where individualism blossoms as embodied in the life and personhood of the legendary Keir Hardie ... British Socialism is as much British as it is socialism. Its unique character can be seen in the personality and work of Johnson, Blake, Dickens, Wilde, Chaplin and John Lennon. The poem recreates the spirit of British socialism that is about believing in a conscience and awakening it through a politics of what is right as opposed to what is wrong. ...Something of Blake's indignation in 'Holy Thursday' combined with Swift's bitter irony...
[for the full review click here]
by Gwilym Williams on Poet-in-Residence
...There are three long poems in this 96-page book. The title poem Keir Hardie Street is comprehensively annotated and every difficulty and nuance is explained. We see here the mind of the poet at work. His raw material sources are laid bare. There are no clever tricks up the sleeve. The character of the fictitious narrator Allan Jackdaw is based on Robert Tressell (and also the poet John Davidson). The method used is impasto; a thickly applied impressionist method used by painters. The result, like some of Morrison's previous work, is almost Dylanesque (after Dylan Thomas that is); it's a read aloud 908 line piece that you can perform at home for yourself, or even for a gathering of friends at your local pub. It's a kind of play for voice/s. Keir Hardie Street is a book that demands to be read closely and slowly. It has a lot to offer; the sounds, the imagery, the articulations, the music; it is all there to be enjoyed... [for the full review click here]
More review excerpts to follow soon from the Morning Star,
and Tears in the Fence....