Peter Knaggs

Peter Knaggs

Peter Knaggs is the author of two poetry collections. 'Sunburnt Bollock,' is forthcoming.

May Day 2021: The Stink
Friday, 30 April 2021 16:06

May Day 2021: The Stink

Published in Poetry

The Stink

by Peter Knaggs

At first we thought it was a mop
or a dishcloth and we threw them out –
But the nest day it was still there –
So we swept the floor and opened a window
but it got worse. We held our hands
over our mouth and said JESUS
and – Where’s that coming from?
and – that fuckin’ stinks. We looked
under the stairs and moved the drawers.
It would make the faint-hearted gag
or puke and the women held their noses.
We looked at each other: What is it?
What is it? What is it? It was pin-clean,
we’d washed and got the bleach out
then I had an epiphany and I knew exactly
what it was. It was our government.

Friday, 14 September 2018 16:11


Published in Poetry


by Peter Knaggs

The racks of bikinis and sunglasses and slippers
and dressing gowns, the shelves of water jugs
and balti dishes have gone and so have the people
who sold them.

A man called Lionbar has jemmied the firedoor.
He’s making himself comfortable in menswear,
abandoned of everything men wear. He has
a cheese sandwich in a Kingsmill bag, a melon
and a carving knife to wave at impudent rats.

In the night, he hears a radio.

He recalls the Thursday before last, the CCTV
footage in the security office, the girl rushing
like an angel smeared in the snow. He is sure
it is the same face, the same face, or is it?

The woman running down the ghost elevator
and in the store of insomniacs, in torchlight,
his pound-shop torchlight, one pound, the price
Sir Philip sold the whole company for, thus
relinquishing pension responsibility for all his,

it’s timeless
no one has a clock
and Lionbar remembers the cackle of the walkie-talkie
the police on their way another shoplifter biting
her light-fingered nails.

Don’t believe a single word your English lecturer tells you about poetry
Monday, 18 June 2018 21:46

Don’t believe a single word your English lecturer tells you about poetry

Published in Poetry

Here's another response from Peter Knaggs, in three parts, to Martin Hayes's recent poetry book, The Things Our Hands Once Stood For.

Don’t believe a single word your English lecturer tells you about poetry (i)

by Peter Knaggs

They will tell you about Spencer and Chaucer
and the renaissance
and the romantics, Keats, Shelley,
Tennyson and Byron
and they will tell you about Auden and Pound
and they will tell you how Larkin wrote an essay
about TS Eliot
and that he defended Andrew Marvell and the metaphysical poets
and they will presume
the whole lecture theatre knows about
the Reformation
but why would they? They are students
of English, students of poetry

and it seems a betrayal to me
to have all these lecturers
peddling at the taxpayers cost, all this poetry written
by white aristocratic males.
Ask him or her; professor, please...
Where is the poetry by the black women?
Where is the poetry by the working class people
who of course had ink
and quills and articulacy? Or is it something of
our view you cannot tolerate, the whiff of our sweat?
And so the presiding ideology of times past
kept these voices silent;
these people invisible.

So now the academics carry on
keeping the radicals, the blacks, the punks,
the women,
the white working class invisible.

Don’t believe a single word your English lecturer tells you about poetry (ii)

until you have read a book they have written
and this book,
should you find it verbose, erudite, complex
or worse,
intellectual and referential to history or Greek myth,
a coded piece of text
that maybe goes over your head or sends you to the library
for Bullfinch’s Mythology, which they shorten
to Bullfinch’s as if everyone reads it every day,
or maybe, maybe, maybe, trust your instinct here,
it is boring as shit, this lecturers’ poetry,
dull as dishwater.

No. Don’t believe a single word your English lecturer
tells you about poetry,
these people who have never been in a bookies
or a pawn shop or a taken a payday loan
who know everything about cutlery
and how to use it
but sweet FA
about how to use a pen for anything
apart from marking.

Don’t believe a single word your English lecturer tells you about poetry (iii)

In the celebrated grounds
of our universities, where we would hope
curiosity would be encouraged
there are questions we might ask of our English professors.
When younger were they entitled to free school dinners?
Have they ever shoplifted
a tin of beans for their supper?
Have they worn down their last pair of shoes,
till the sole and upper flap
like Goofy’s trap?
Have they TWOCed?
have they ever had to sign on for benefits, really had to?
Have they ever had a social worker?

And of course they will laugh, charmed
at your inquisitiveness and tell you how hard they worked
to get where they are
and I’m sure they believe that they have,
but if they have never done any of these things mentioned,
never lived one single day in their precious lives one inch
from the abyss, never been anywhere near the edge
they will never be able to call themselves a poet.