Monday 14 November 2022

Review by Jon Wilkins of "The Meanwhile Sites" by Pete Green

The Meanwhile Sites is a term, according to Google Books, "used increasingly by urban planners to refer to locations that are earmarked for future development, it is a book about places like this, and situations like this, and their relationships with people, and the oppositions of marginality against mainstream, renewability against finitude, utility against intangible value, and the changing forms of physical, cultural and psychological landscapes in a post-industrial age.” Quite a mouthful and perhaps the beauty of Pete Green’s work is that you don’t actually need the definition to understand their work as it is an obvious howl into the air about an increasingly globalised world that is attacking everything that Everyman would have stood for.

I admire Green's reminiscences of a life well spent, of a world abused, of a time when life was simpler, because the world was more simple. Their use of metaphor is stunning and in every poem we can unpick meaning and streams of consciousness as they remind us of what once was and of what now has become - the rewards for letting the developer march over us, the trader destroy our banks, the politicians who betray their promises.

These are very political poems that sweep over continents in their journey to show us what has happened through neglect and tolerance of the various political and economic processes put in place. "I am the king of Belgium" delivers us to exactly the world we have created, the world we have inherited - a world that we perhaps will never recapture as we seem to have gone too far. "The Money Tree" shows us what has been taken away, what society has lost and what can again never be recovered.

I love the experimentalism of Green's works; they give us diverse ways of promoting or pursuing a point. Not for Green a simple way - their work jumps out from the page lightly and dark, as nuanced and creative, their talent obvious and deep. Complex language, historical and literary references abound. Green shows that they understand what they are writing about. The reader can feel their anger, feel their regret.

The notes at the back of the book are useful as they show what inspired Green, though to see the finished article from the few words of inspiration is often a wonderfully mystic journey with a surprise at the end of each line, of each verse or stanza. Green challenges us. They demand that we think about their words. Their words implore us to think about the world we live in, a world that is gradually being taken away from us, a world that Green references from neolithic times to the present - a world where there is still some hope, but is there still time?

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 66. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s.

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou so much Jon for this wonderfully kind review!