Every year for the past six years, Culture Matters has run the Bread and Roses Poetry Award. The competition is free to enter and is aimed at supporting and encouraging poetry with a broadly social and political content, written by and for working people.
The Shouting Tories is an anthology of some of the poems submitted, including the five winners of the Award. The poems have been selected to showcase the range of topics and poetic skills of entrants to the Bread and Roses Award. Unsurprisingly, there are many poems about ‘the shouting Tories’, expressing the sadness, anger, contempt and revulsion felt by working people towards the shameful personal behaviours and deliberate oppression of the poor by Tory politicians.
W.H. Auden once said that it is the responsibility of poets ‘to defend language from corruption… When it is corrupted, people lose faith in what they hear.’
In the first quarter of the twenty-first century, it is hard to hear anything against the continuous white noise and shouting of barefaced political lies – especially from the Tories – through PR, advertising and social media. There are so many words saying nothing, and too many contemporary poets add to this white noise, writing about themselves and their private dramas.
The poets in The Shouting Tories are doing their best to defend the language. This is public art, arguments about society and politics made with clarity, force and precision. These writers avoid sentimentality and rhetoric – they say what they mean and mean what they say.
- Andy Croft, poet and publisher of Smokestack Books
The Shouting Tories, 56 pps., ISBN 978-1-912710-50-8, available for £9 inc. p. and p.