Hating Tories and Other Poems: review in Solidarity

This review of Janine’s book of poems was published in Solidarity 363, 6 May 2015.

Many of Janine’s poems are, as she says, all about “venting her spleen on the poetic stage”. For this Workers’ Liberty member, socialist-feminist, trade unionist, spoken-word performer, every day has to be a day for hating the Tories.

Here are the worst excesses, vanities and unthinking elitism of Tory politicians, vilified and poked fun at:

“Shall I compare thee to a winter’s day?
Thou art more cold and more intemperate…”

Here too, thoughts about terrible injustices which might otherwise be one day’s headline in a local newspaper, shared on Facebook, then forgotten. A poem about Daniel Gauntlett, a homeless man who died of hypothermia, on the doorstep of an empty home:

“Boards on windows and lock on doorstep
Standing between him
And the meagre shelter that could have saved him.”

This collection reflects all of Janine’s interests, pet hates, and life as a socialist activist and trade unionist: from health and safety at work, to solidarity with Iranian trade unionists, the gentrification of Hackney, being autistic, and the essence of domestic dogs. Most are stories, and they are told with wry humour or biting sarcasm, as appropriate. But Janine is most successful, for me, where she brings to light some aspect of the unequal reality of the world. This one about the night bus from Hackney

“At 5a.m., a half-full cart to take
The staff who clean and guard before you wake
Who start the engines ’fore the rest of us
From brief repose unwilling exodus
Hold open half-mast eyes on work-worn faces…”

• Mostly Hating Tories can be purchased (£3) here

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