from the Introduction

In novels and films, plays even, there are state-of-the-nation portrayals aplenty. From Dickens to Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, the rich and the poor are double acts on a political stage that is the United Kingdom. In poetry? Not so much. The Waste Land comes to mind of course... So,
in reading Alan Morrison’s brilliantly titled Shabbigentile, you will be bowled over by the constant stream of anger-flecked images which properly reflect the ill-state-of-the-nation we find ourselves in today... And the cultural references are as wide and deep as Alan’s imagination...


Culture Matters, Feb 2019

140pp, paperback with full colour illustrations
ISBN 978-1-912710-10-2
To order a copy straight from the publisher click on the cover image right or on the link below

"The state of the nation we are in, with all its uncertainty, chaos... is covered in this collection of searing poems. They are poems that will make you burn with anger but also with hope" Peter Raynard

Alan Morrison’s Shabbigentile is a counterpoint to his Forward-nominated Tan Raptures (Smokestack Books, 2017), many of its poems having been written during the same period and on complementary polemical themes. From the ominous economic stormclouds of the banking crash, through eight years of scarring austerity cuts, to the potentially catastrophic cross paths of ‘Brexit’, Trump and the insurgent European-wide right-wing populism of the present.

Shabbigentile is populated by assorted grotesques, memes and leitmotivs, distinctly native to the turbulent and polarised Noughteens: the sweatshop barista, the coffee bean Corbynista,
the Dole Jude and Welfare Jew, the Five Giant Shadows and Five Evil Reverbs, and the homegrown ogre of the title.

These part-organic, part-figurative amalgams inhabit the wastelands of asset-stripped Britain, where Tory and red top propaganda against the unemployed is a scapegoating pseudo-science (Scroungerology), and the DWP’s weapons of brown envelopes are transposed as Salted Caramels. From such hostile environments we jump to the dystopian atmospherics of a post-Brexit tinpot RU-RI-TANNIA which sees Easter Island heads sprouting from the white cliffs of Dover.

As with all of Alan Morrison’s work, this latest collection draws deeply from an intimate acquaintanceship with pain. His austere, unflinching art lays bare, not only the raw injustices that deface contemporary British society, but also the unhealed historical causes which continue to repeat themselves, savaging the most vulnerable while those in authority applaud. We are guided through a landscape where an over-privileged, amateur eugenicist has been put in charge of cleansing the nation of its least ‘productive’ citizens. This ‘Ru-ri-tannia’ where ‘All roads lead from Paternoster Square’ is one we would like to regard as foreign (and when he speaks of ‘unpaid
untermenschen’ sleeping under London Bridge, one can almost hear stormtroopers singing the ‘Horst-Wessel-Lied’ as they march down the Mall). But we know that this travesty of a nation is the same one in which we live, but increasingly fail to recognise. One of the many tragedies of this agonisingly truthful poetry is that it will never be read by the monsters that it describes. Christopher Moncrieff

...We have characters
from Baron Rees-Mogg, to Noggin the Nog, Baden Powell to Enoch Powell, and the mouse that roared to the lion that squeaked. The blurring of real/
imagined lines is perfect for our times ...Alan sweeps history up in many of the poems and gives it a good dressing-down, with all its malcontents of privilege and the harm and influence they have had on working-class culture. He calls for a return of books that properly reflect the culture of struggle, and which give us the intellectual grounding to fight fascism and right-wing populism on all fronts.... It is within this book that the richness and inventiveness of language is used to such great effect. Skewed words, new words, old words with new meaning, all are here – taking them back from the right-wing media demonization of the poor... Peter Raynard