Handling Stolen Goods by Degna Stone
In a collection that encompasses both Siri and the trickster god Anansi, in his travels from West Africa via the Caribbean to Black working class communities in the Midlands and North East of England, Degna Stone demonstrates not only how well she tells stories, but also of her awareness of the difficulties of communication, where "You know what he's saying / but not what he's getting at", or where the injunction against lying doesn't count in every situation. But if human interactions are at the heart of her poems, she also writes with telling precision about both place and animal nature. Not since Ted Hughes has anyone written so totemically about the crow, ominous, but also emblematic of tenacity, boldness and a harsh kind of beauty. When the poet declares, "I want to be as black as the crows", it is much more than an embrace of blackness in resistance to prejudice.
"It's a cliche of poetry that we often say that it transforms the ordinary; this pamphlet disproves this, showing us that the ordinary and everyday have always been transformational, and Degna's poems allow us to see that. These are poems written from the outskirts -- of cities, of love, of the body -- with a pure distillation of language where no word is wasted."
Number of pages:32