‘I’m distinctly working-class in every way, A blemish on your literary-landscape, I’m distinctly working-class in every way, That pebbledash finish, Seems like you work at it, every day –, THAT PEBBLEDASH FINISH! That just won’t go away.’
The Best Of A Bad Situation, the debut collection by poet and spoken word artist Jamie Thrasivoulou is unapologetic its appraisal of society, spitting vitriol throughout its verse.
There is plenty of Thrasivoulou‘s own experience imbued in these poems, each of them urgent and unafraid of reflecting modern Britain. There is plenty of witness too, a visceral and unromanticised view of our shared society, plain-speaking observations in brilliantly delivered driving verse.
There are characters here, the down-of-luck and the ne’er-do-wells, the strivers and the complainers, the dirt and grime of both streets and souls. This is no poverty porn but the scenes evoked are with scales firmly fallen from eyes; love remaining not for what this country was or is, but what could still be.
So much of this is painted plain it becomes emotionally as well as morally hard-hitting. The shrouded deathbed of Reimagining Yeroskippou causes the breath to catch at the heart ache of goodbye, the four-parter of unmade man made once more in The Best Of A Bad Situation, and the intimacy of the everyday mixed with the wonder of this world in Duck.
There, as elsewhere, is the language of our streets. Yes, the slang, but more than that; the language of OUR streets. Sometimes by name but mostly in dialect this book was not just made in Derby but has the city in its beating heart. It makes this collection art of the truest kind, the most honest declaration of this is me; this is us.
And having the mirror held, does not always show the image fair. In Anthem For The Racist White Trash there is the blunt reply to the fear-born-of-idleness which drove us to Brexit, which fails to see that voting for those who’d sell tomorrow doesn’t make today any better. It is an epitaph to critical thinking, a message to the new class, aware and woke from the nation’s TV coma this is the truth that hurts but is much needed.
Emerging as one of the most vital poets of our time this collection is not so much that blemish on the literary landscape as suggested in That Pebbledash Finish but more a pursuit of brutal beauty against the odds. Jamie Thrasivoulou shows himself to be a compelling and necessary voice in these troubled times.
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