The blog posts from the poet, Helen Mort, which I follow, are always a pleasure to read. Her final post of 2016 pointed me to “Christmas Eve,” by the West Midlands poet Liz Berry.
Here’s an extract:
And it’s Christmas soon, abide it or not,
for now the pubs are illuminated pink and gold
The Crooked House, Ma Pardoes, The Struggling Mo
and snow is filling women’s hair like blossom
and someone is drunk already and throwing a punch
and someone is jamming a key in a changed lock
shouting fer christ’s sake, Myra, yo’ll freeze me to jeth
and a hundred new bikes are being wrapped in sheets
and small pyjamas warmed on fireguards
and children are saying one more minute, just one, Mom
But better, as Helen Mort suggests, to listen to Liz Berry reading it out loud on Soundcloud, where somehow she sounds like a Black Country Dylan Thomas bringing her town and its people to life, unsentimentally, at Christmas time in the 2010s. Four minutes you won’t regret.
The image at the top of the post is of the world’s first Christmas card, designed by John Calcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843, and used here courtesy of Wikimedia Commons under a public domain licence.