In the poetry of Alan Morrison we are witnessing the development not just
of a storyteller but of
a history-teller. Vast erudition and seasoned skills combine to weigh British realpolitik and the resistance to it on the scales. There is no false feel good in Morrison's message that history is both dream and nightmare, even as his long-lined mini-epics on such miscellaneous topics as Dale Farm, the firebombing of Freedom Bookshop, Tory austerity, cultivate the dream and pummel the nightmare. Morrison is channelling the class war with real commitment and artistry. Niall McDevitt

Tan Raptures

OUT 1 April 2017

Smokestack Books
1 Lake Terrace, Grewelthorpe, Ripon, HG4 3BU
200pp, paperback
ISBN 9780995563506

"A devastatingly powerful collection... Brilliantly written, acerbic satire."
Disability Arts Online

Tan Raptures comprises four mini-collections. Green Tinder
puts Troika-shackled Greece in sharp relief against its ancient democracy; the Runnymede Diggers are juxtaposed with their 17th century harbingers; Los Indignados, with the ill-fated leftist Loyalists of Thirties Spain. Solon, Lilburne, Winstanley and Caudwell are some luminaries exhumed. Red Wilderness includes paeans to past radical figures, such as ‘Joe Hill’, ‘Wal’ Hannington, and "Red Vicar of Thaxted" Conrad Noël. Coventry Blue charts Tory domination of British politics, but also commemorates the Attlee hiatus and the didactic thrift of Pelican books. Tan Raptures transports us back to the present day of food banks, “poor doors”, “homeless spikes”, and the tragic “Wrag” fatalities of Tory “welfare reform”. The eponymous polemical poem confronts the social catastrophe of the benefit cuts, and pernicious Tory “something for nothing” rhetoric and hyperbolic red-top “scrounger” propaganda that brainwashed the British public into complicity. It is a verse-intervention of Social Catholicism, as epitomised by Pope Francis, in opposition to self-proclaimed ‘Roman Catholic’ Iain Duncan Smith’s despotic six year grip at the DWP. The title Tan Raptures plays on the biblical notion of ‘The Rapture’ –the ‘raising up’ of believers to meet their maker in the sky– satirising the ubiquitous ‘tan envelopes’ that strike fear into claimants as passports to a twisted Tory notion of ‘salvation’ through “sanction”.

Alan Morrison is rare among his generation on the current British poetry scene; he’s a properly provocative poet whose commitment to the ideas of socialism is passionate, erudite and convincingly argued. As befits a poet of the left, he’s angered by injustice of all kinds and writes intelligent polemic. Yet Morrison is not simply a ‘political’ poet in the narrow sense, he can be lyrical, humorous and inventive too. I hope he will be as widely and appreciatively read as he deserves. Alexis Lykiard

Morrison has very clearly given long, hard thought to every line of his very, very substantial text. Here we have Marx’s “congealed labour”, where the poet does justice to his subject: condensed, not a wasted word, every rift loaded with ore. Morrison clearly reads history with a sympathetic eye, looking out for comradely parallels across the generations. I love both the content and the form of Tan Raptures. With regard to the latter, Morrison's prosody is beautifully right, the weight and rhythm of the syllables falling where they should, with no stumbling, as in so many other poets’ attempts at “free verse”. They are maybe “blank”, as in “blank verse”, but with patterning of assonances from start to finish, and other heightenings of language. As well as loving this book, I find it profoundly moving. The closing “Benedictions” had me sobbing at the kitchen table. Even now, writing this, I find myself so tearful I cannot see straight.' David Betteridge, author of Slave Songs and Symphonies (Culture
Matters, 2016)