Grenfell Tower fire
The appalling fire on 14 June 2017, in which at least 72 people died, victims of inequality, corner-cutting and capitalism.
by Janine Booth
A wise person once said that when there is a tragedy, a lot of poetry is written. The Grenfell Tower fire is no exception, as the new anthology, 'Poems for Grenfell Tower’ illustrates.
But the Grenfell Tower fire was not just a ‘tragedy’: it was an entirely avoidable mass killing, in which people died because they were working-class, in a building that had been clad in flammable material to save money and improve the view for its rich Kensington neighbours. Many of the poems in this book reflect that truth. It is an angry book as well as a sad one.
Disaffected youth have long been the folk devils of society: feral, angry and disobedient; and simultaneously neglected, mistreated and alienated. The conservative establishment fears their rebelliousness crashing into its comfortable political world.
But is there another demographic which that same establishment would be well-advised to fear? Enter the Disaffected Middle-aged Women. Underpaid, pushed around, stressed out - and fighting back!
Janine Booth’s new collection brings together forty-something poems from the midst of maturity. They tell life stories and cautionary tales. They invite you to look at well-known stories from a different point of view. They watch television, stroll along the river, listen to music, work night shifts and ponder life’s scars. They take on issues including climate change, overbearing advertising, terror attacks, violence against women, the Grenfell Tower fire and the rise of the right.
Many of these poems rhyme, some don’t. Some are formal – including a sonnet, a villanelle and a sestina – but most have a rhythm and style of their own.
Janine Booth writes to amuse, to provoke thought, and to cheer on important struggles. Now, with the Disaffected Middle-aged Women, she is raising an army – and entertaining the troops.
in temporary digs
waiting for a miracle
Led here by a burning star
and a government demand
to be counted
Drawing the short straw
bedding down in the stalls
Because there's no room
in the inner workings
of the political economy
Watched over by
donkeys and sheep
Keeping the light on
Those who fought it
or those who caused it?
Those who saved sixty-five
or those who cost seventy-two?
Those who did not know the tower was clad in torchwood
or those who chose that cladding because it was cheaper?
Those whose chosen job is to walk into burning buildings to save life
or those whose careers are built on making money by cutting corners?