Monday 10 October 2016

Review by Eliot John of "Welcome to Leicester," edited by Emma Lee and Ambrose Musiyiwa

[This is the first of two reviews from different reviewers which we're running on this new anthology.]

Imagine a puzzle of Leicester… large and colourful and made up of a thousand tiny, intricate pieces. Now, imagine that you’ve just emptied out the contents of the puzzle-box. The image is scattered and broken, beautiful and diverse.

Welcome to Leicester is a Wonderland in poetry form. From the Contents you are transported on a zig-zagged journey through the city, as if you were viewing it from Willy Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator. You jump from ‘Granby Street’ to ‘Western Road’ and back to ‘Highfields’ in only a handful of titles. A few big names also stand out, Richard III is there, of course, and Shakespeare, then there’s Picasso placed nicely in the middle and obviously a number of Leicester City footie fans.

Where do I start? Let’s begin as Alice did in her Wonderland - straight down the rabbit hole. The Leicester equivalent is the notorious carpark, the resting place of an infamous king. 'King Richard of Leicester' is an incredibly witty, fast-paced poem that gives you the low down on Richard and his great discovery. Colin Cook is that teacher you had in school who made history fun and relatable. You would leave class thinking 'Mr. Cook is so strange, isn’t he?' but you’d still be laughing and quoting the poem all the way home.

Rob Gee also mentions ‘some dead bones of a dead bloke in a carpark’ in his piece 'On Leicester Winning Premiership.' This poem is like being a VIP at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, only with Vardy-bombs instead. It perfectly portrays the elation felt within the community after the grand win. It is an adrenaline-filled ode to the club. I challenge you not to tear up by the end.

Julia Wood shows us a different side to Leicester in 'Fosse Park, After Dark.' I wouldn’t dare to read this one after dark. ‘Concrete ghosts’ will haunt your dreams and leave you breathless.

You cannot help but admire Leicester after reading this anthology. It’s an odd mix of poems on history, food, scenery, ethnicity, festivals, sport and more. But hey, that’s Leicester for you.

About the reviewer
Eliot John is a poet and creative writer from Leicester who specialises in spoken word and flash fiction. Eliot regularly hosts burlesque shows in the city for The Leicester Vixens and is renowned for their witty and dark approach to life. Recurring themes that are explored in their work include loss of identity, sexuality, ethics, and the vices of modern culture.

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