Persona Non Grata – ed. Isabelle Kenyon

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*I received a free ebook of this collection, with thanks to Isabelle Kenyon.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

 

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Blurb:  Persona Non Grata is packed with exceptional poets writing on the theme of social exclusion.

With interpretations exploring our refugee crises globally, physical and mental illness, homelessness, addiction and family estrangement, the anthology will fundraise for two important and vital charities: ‘Shelter’ and ‘Crisis Aid UK’.

 

 

 

 

This is a collection of more than fifty short poems; all deeply emotive and with varying topics unified around the central premise of social exclusion and displacement.

The collection is divided into seven distinct sections by content:  Homelessness, Asylum Seekers, War, Family, Invisibility, Political and British Humour/Optimism.

Each section contains a selection of poems which capture different aspects and emotions relating to the wider theme.  The poems about homelessness share not only a theme, but a sentiment of respect and understanding for the individuals and their daily lives.  The war section is bleak with the human cost: the spiritual aftermath of taking lives and losing limbs; treating other humans as disposable objects; ripping families apart.

The ‘family’ and ‘invisibility’ chapters both have wider remits, spanning everything from love, sacrifice, loss, jealousy, friendship, childhood, and abuse in the former; and the low status, the female, the fat, the unwell, the neurologically different and the elderly in the latter.  The style and mood of these poems vary wildly too, but all retain that thread of pride and strength, tinged with isolation and unhappiness.

I would argue that every poem in this book is ‘political’, as they all contain deeper meaning and explore wider issues than the surface situations on the page.  In the political chapter however, the poems discuss specific policy matters such as benefits, nationalisation and protest marches.

Finally, the humour section at the end has a lighter, brighter tone, which doesn’t quite hide the weight of issues such as media denial and increasing xenophobia.  Luckily, and wisely, the editor finishes the collection with ‘Let’s Celebrate’ by Ceinwen Haydon, which leaves the reader with the sense that, while atrocities and injustice are still rampant there are people out there every day being kind, loving, unique and in small ways taking steps towards a better society in future.

These small blessings do not come close to outweighing the important points made throughout the book, but they do strike a spark of hope and the reader puts the book down feeling that life is hard, but not hopeless, and there is work to be done.

I would recommend this collection to fans of modern poetry that is not afraid to tackle difficult current (and past) events.  There is so much that is globally relevant here, and the funds from purchasing the anthology go towards charities that are working to make a difference to some of the issues raised.

 

[…] No homeless problem in this land
They say they have it all in hand
No attack on the disabled and sick
No nationwide confidence trick,
No increased numbers sleeping rough,
No rent increases making life tough […]

– ‘Nothing wrong with the weather’ by Thomas Higgins, in Persona Non Grata, ed. Isabelle Kenyon

 

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Find more from Isabelle Kenyon at her website here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

Persona Non Grata is available on Amazon right now.

 

 

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