A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
'Restlessly inventive, brutally graceful, startlingly beautiful . . . a landmark debut' Guardian
'Oh my God, he's just stirring me. Destroying me' Michaela Coel
'A poet of truth and rage, heartbreak and joy' Max Porter
'It's simply stunning. Every image is a revelation' Terrance Hayes
What is it like to grow up in a place where the same police officer who told your primary school class they were special stops and searches you at 13 because 'you fit the description of a man' - and where it is possible to walk two and a half miles through an estate of 1,444 homes without ever touching the ground?
In Poor, Caleb Femi combines poetry and original photography to explore the trials, tribulations, dreams and joys of young Black boys in twenty-first century Peckham. He contemplates the ways in which they are informed by the built environment of concrete walls and gentrifying neighbourhoods that form their stage, writes a coded, near-mythical history of the personalities and sagas of his South London youth, and pays tribute to the rappers and artists who spoke to their lives.
Above all, this is a tribute to the world that shaped a poet, and to the people forging difficult lives and finding magic within it. As Femi writes in one of the final poems of this book: 'I have never loved anything the way I love the endz.'
An urban romantic . . . powerful
Caleb Femi is a gift to us all from the storytelling gods. He is a poet of truth and rage, heartbreak and joy. But above all, this is love poetry. Love of community, language, music and form. This book flows from the fabric of boyhood to the politics and architecture of agony, from the material to the spiritual, always moving, always real. Poor is the heartbeat of a living city which truly knows itself. Caleb is a mighty and positive force in UK culture and this is a vital book
From stirring novels to tender biographies, thought-provoking journalism to the books that captured lockdown, these are the titles that best reflected this extraordinary year.