The End of Austeritee
by Mike Jenkins
Cop shop's bin moved outa town,
yew ardly ever see 'em around.
Library's shifted to-a Leisure Centre:
all about footfall, nobuddy goes there.
Many Council redundancies 're comin,
Old People's Centre an emtee buildin.
Mewsic, drama an poetree luxuries in schools,
learnin for tests an exams the rule.
Omeless abandoned to-a wind an rain,
Food Banks save a family agen.
Benefits stopped, rents too igh,
antique trains on-a Valleys' line.
Long waits for ops, mental ealth ignored;
s many toil f paltry rewards.
But we’ll soon celebrate with glee
the glorious end of austeritee.
This poem is from Anonymous Bosch, by Mike Jenkins with images by Dave Lewis, which has just been published by Culture Matters.
In it Mike Jenkins once again invites us into the daily lives of austerity-struck residents of Merthyr Tydfil and the Valleys, in this bittersweet collection of poem-monologues, communicated in a sympathetic Welsh working-class voice that has become the poet's signature.
Once again we find them coping with the stresses and strains on the social fabric caused by decades of deindustrialisation and abandonment by Capital, magnified by recent Tory cuts to public services. Nevertheless, in the face of this oppression and depression, Jenkins' picaresque, expletive-rich speakers are defiantly talkative, witty and irrepressibly expressive as ever.
The striking, poignant black and white images of Dave Lewis brilliantly evoke the setting for these gritty, singsong poems. Together they form a modern mythology of Merthyr and the Valleys, which brings to mind the nightmarish imaginaries of Francisco Goya, William Hogarth and, of course, Hieronymous Bosch, all set against a hopeless backdrop of pandemic, poundshop and foodbank.
The book is available here.
Mike Jenkins is an award-winning Welsh poet and author and unofficial poet for Cardiff City FC. His new book of political poetry, Nobody's Subject, is published in Summer 2016.