The Centre for New Writing's Writing Lives Together: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose brings together contributions from eight writers who have been inspired by nineteenth-century works. Dickens, Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, Edmund Grosse, and William and Dorothy Wordsworth all provide a springboard for twelve new creative pieces.
Inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s The Grasmere Journals, Richard Byrt’s "Two Bags, Two Voices" explores the similarities in homelessness between 1796 and 2017: “All I own in two bags. Only a barn for shelter .... // Now all I own in two bags. Only a doorway for shelter.” Byrt shows us how much time has passed, and yet how so little has changed.
Anna Larner, author of the novel Highland Fling, gives us two pieces in this collection. In her first poem "On Reflection," she leaves flowers to wilt at Coleridge’s door. And her prose poem, "Writing is a leap of faith," takes Dickens’ Autobiographical Fragment, and delivers a piece pumped full of sentiment: “How awful the gap, and how hopeless my attempts have been to close it.” Larner expertly explores the push-pull life of the writer between the authentic self and the "other.
In William Wordsworth’s "A Complaint," loss is everything, and the University of Leicester’s Jonathan Taylor makes Wordsworth accessible for modern day minds with his poem, "Out of the Well": "From deep within, I hear them pleading." Taylor concludes that love is terrifying and sharpens the appetite for both Wordsworth and Japanese author, Koji Suzuki.
“She said, eat it. So, I shoved that piece of news into my mouth and chewed”: Alyson Morris describes the experience of eating a piece of acid coated newspaper in her poem, "At De Quincey’s Pleasure." She makes Thomas De Quincey’s language interesting again. Morris’ poem, like others in the pamphlet, carries more weight than expected and brings Victorian literature out from under the staircase.
Aysar Ghassan gives us a kind of bug-hunger in his poem, "Greater Than Illiterate Love," where he powerfully combines stale rock cakes and the death of Betamax, whilst stepping on the toes of the value of love.
About the reviewer
Lee Wright was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire in 1980 and has been writing both fiction and non-fiction since 2008. He is taking an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester.