Monday, 5 August 2019

Review by Kirsten Arcadio of "Bollocks to Brexit" ed. Ambrose Musiyiwa


As an ardent pro-remainer, I joined The People’s Vote march in the spring of 2019. ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ was a phrase I yelled during the march, so when the opportunity came up to review an anthology of the same name, I jumped at it. From discussions of the language we use to describe our crisis to reflections of our predicament, this anthology of anti-Brexit poetry and short fiction is a joy to read. The collection is brimming over with pertinent questions: the question of our children’s legacy; the effect on our businesses; the loss of our European identity; our repulsion at the sudden rise of anti-immigration sentiments; the lies told to us by the Leave campaign, to name but a few.

I particularly enjoyed 'Peregrines' (Yvonne Reddick) with its feeling of transience and reminder that most of us hail from elsewhere and, like the author, I would love the freedom to stay on the move; 'Yes there will also by singing' (Deborah Harvey) is a beautiful poem that echoes Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Motto,’ a collection of verses he wrote after fleeing Nazi Germany. 'Reverse Brexit' (Rachel Hardisty Vincent) is a clever poem you can read top down or bottom up for two entirely different reflections on how a person could have voted in the referendum – very nicely done and it works as a quick an effective mirror on current society. 'Before and After' (Pam Thompson), about an Italian café through the pre and post referendum period, is almost too close to home (I own an Italian café). The two verses of this poem show the golden era of tolerance and multi-cultural European values before the vote and the quick reversal of that afterwards. I enjoyed the immediate image of Disney villain, Gru, that 'Bad bad man' (Andy Callen) brought to mind. This poem reminded me that, in a world where a PM plays the fool to win voters’ affection, we should examine our begrudging affection for cardboard cut-out villains. Maybe it’s time to look behind their larger-than-life characters to see what they are really up to?

Bollocks to Brexit is a wonderful collection of poetic reactions to our current state of affairs. The works outline, in succinct form, the predicament British society finds itself in at this peculiar crossroads in time. It delivers a great slap in the face for complacency in bite-sized but not easily digestible chunks - and is worth carrying around to delve into every time a reminder is needed of what’s at stake. 


About the reviewer
A Ph.D student of Creative Writing at the University of Leicester, Kirsten Arcadio is an entrepreneur who runs a business alongside her writing career. She has written and indie-published four novels:  Borderliners, Split SymmetryWorldCult, and Zeitgeist, each with a different speculative theme.

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