Mike Jenkins once again invites us into the daily lives of austerity-struck residents of Merthyr Tydfil and the Valleys, in this bittersweet collection of poem-monologues, communicated in the sympathetic Welsh working-class voice that has become the poet's signature.
Once again we find them coping with the stresses and strains on the social fabric caused by decades of deindustrialisation and abandonment by Capital, magnified by recent Tory cuts to public services. Nevertheless, in the face of this oppression and depression, Jenkins' picaresque, expletive-rich speakers are defiantly talkative, witty and irrepressibly expressive as ever.
The striking, poignant black and white images of Dave Lewis brilliantly evoke the setting for these gritty, singsong poems. Together they form a modern mythology of Merthyr and the Valleys, which brings to mind the nightmarish imaginaries of Francisco Goya, William Hogarth and, of course, Hieronymous Bosch, all set against a hopeless backdrop of pandemic, poundshop and foodbank.
Anonymous Bosch, by Mike Jenkins with images by Dave Lewis, ISBN 978-1-912710-35-5, 83pps., price £10 plus £3 p. and p.