In offbeat on August 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

her ashes fall from
my mouth
like an empire of widows;
a ragged death sewn
together from
tears –
something only
half-remembered, like
a fragment of
somebody else’s


A poetry book… but not as we know it

baby, i’m ready to go is a break-the-rules collection of poems that’s not afraid to mess with convention.  it’s a poetry book that mixes the radical with the traditional – the anarchy of dialect and free verse, with the conformity of rhyme and traditional poetic forms.  and that’s not the only thing that sets this collection apart.  baby, i’m ready to go achieves that rarest of things, intimacy with the reader.  from the teaser first lines at the start, to the closing interview with the writer by various punk bands, this is a book that wants to get close to you, wants to speak to you.  and it does.  through the poems of course, and through the background notes at the end of the book as well.  like the banter between songs at a gig or cliffs notes designed to make you fail the exam, the notes provide a rare insight into the writer’s thinking.

baby, i’m ready to go takes us to the extremes of the M1, from the two-up-two-downs of the writer’s native yorkshire, to the urban masai mara of inner-city london via a town called me, population one.  a knowing, edgy collection, baby, i’m ready to go shows us the wonderful and funny in the weird, banal and ugly.  it reminds us of the cruelty and sadness that is life and other people. 

so, if you like your poems florid, saccharine and bbc poetry season-approved, baby, i’m ready to go ain’t for you.  best try some dead poet with a title, or your nearest branch of clinton cards.  if, however, you prefer your poetry alive and well and living in the real world, beg, steal, borrow… or preferably buy this book from http://www.grievousjonespress.com  baby, i’m ready to go one for all you lovers, loners, heart breakers and jimmy saville worshippers out there.  POETRY IS DEAD.  LONG LIVE POETRY!



reviews of baby, i’m ready to go

“in turn freewheeling and funny and dark and insightful, melissa mann’s poems surge with energy. in these works, witty wordplay, pop culture references and the minutiae of everyday existence vie for space in a collection that sees the quietly desperate dreams and repressed desires of british life, sliced open and laid bare on the page’s slab.  like morrissey with tits. and balls.”  ben myers, author and journalist

“melissa mann’s gorgeous collection of poems is about love, and the forlorn people of the world, and the little moments of despair that eventually drive us insane. which is to say that it’s a great book full of brilliant gems about life itself. it’s beautiful and it’s profound and you have to read it. and baby, she’s ready to go.” — mark safranko, author of hating olivia and lounge lizard

“concise, precise and full of vice; melissa mann’s poetry focuses on isolation and a need to belong in today’s london, a city full of people making an ‘ome from home, some succeeding, many not. the poems are terse, to the point and well distilled, and you’ll find ’em lamenting their lot in pubs across town.” – tim wells, poet, author of rougher yet and boys’ night out in the afternoon, bon viveur and gout sufferer.

about grievous jones press:

an independent poetry and prose press dedicated to writing that kills inner demons, has sex with them, or makes them a cup of tea.  full details at http://www.grievousjonespress.com  

about melissa mann

melissa mann is a wordsmith, head honcho of litzine beat the bust, btd tv and beat the dust bookshop (http://www.beatthedust.com), and lead singer of the legendary punk folk band the holy whores.  okay, well the first few are true at least; the latter is just a figment of her imagination.  adventurous types wanting to explore melissa’s imagination should head due north to http://www.melissamann.com equipped with all-terrain boots and a torch.  her work has been widely published on bus shelters and public conveniences, as well as anthologies and literary publications, including 3:am magazine, dogmatika, the laura hird showcase, zygote in my coffee, succour magazine, radgepacket – tales from the inner cities, and the beat


 blackheath books

Urchin Belle

by Jenni Fagan

Published by Blackheath Books

Publication date: July 2009

Urchin Belle is a debut collection that combines a genuine poetic originality with a startling no bullshit clarity. This is a voice born out of a life lived on the extreme peripheries of society.

The poems are as touching as they are heroic and as fragile as they are tough.  The erotic and mundane collide with the surreal and extreme to produce a voice at once beguiling, shocking and entirely unapologetic.

The poems take you from downtown Cairo to Glencoe, to a world where sawn off shotguns, underage prostitution, dealers, pimps, bent cops and brutality are the norm.  The stories of those living within and outside the system recur alongside the kind of raw erotic base need that leaves the reader wanting more.

Blackheath Books’ reputation as discerning independent publishers climbs another notch with a bruising first collection of poems by Jenni Fagan.

The back cover is proudly stamped with words from the Chairman of Edinburgh & Midlothian Young Offenders Report 1993: “Miss Fagan is a considerable danger, both to herself and to all of society.” In a Bart Simpson way, I’m thinking “cool”; except it’s not cool. Fagan’s accounts of abuse, violence and prostitution in childhood are far too real and unsettling to get off on some vicarious kick.

You can feel the danger throughout Urchin Belle as the fizzing tension and pressure builds like a can of Tennent’s booted down the stairs, ready to explode. It’s not all doom and gloom though; there are moments of snatched tenderness and the end poem about nicking lights from police cars provides a defiant, funny, and triumphant two-fingered finale.



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