The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry – Review
By Joe Forshaw
It can be said that to be Yorkshire bred is to be born either with a cricket bat or a pencil in the hand. For if not flaying a cricket ball around Yorkshire folk love to write about the glories of their county, the largest in England.
Although a red rose man myself I have to admire the strength and depth of Yorkshire prose. From Halifax to Huddersfield from Bradford to Barnsley the golden words like nectar flow. In The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry no facet or emotion is left unattended.
Sorrow, laughter and poignancy, from the sublime to the ridiculous are all covered in free form, metred and rhyming formats. The book reads in parts like a travel log, a journey through the cities, towns, and dales of Yorkshire in poetic format – but it is vastly more than that. It is also an in-depth characterisation of the Yorkshire people and their relationship with their much beloved county.
The CVs of the contributors are most impressive, all accomplished poets in their own right. Many have multiple publications to their name, most have major prizes in their trophy cupboards, some have radio fame and a poem from the current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, called ‘Telephoning Home’ is included.
The book opens with a contribution from David Gough who is part of the team that runs York Literature festival. His contribution ‘A Yorkshire Alphabet’ is a listing of all the words that are readily associated with Yorkshire: F gives football, fog, fags and ferrets, P offers puddings, pits, pints and pigeons, T, tripe and terriers.
Ian McMillan a journalist and broadcaster offers rhyming stanzas extolling the virtues of Yorkshire Puddings, ending with the line The Yorkshire Pudding is the queen of starters, which is, of course, subjective.
Neil Clarkson, whose debut collection Build You Again From Wood was published in 2017, gifts ‘Cup Final’. The poem describes the unfortunate demise of a Leeds United football fan whose final whistle blows whilst watching a game. The poem ends: “It would be how he wanted to go” – poignant to perfection.
Andy Humphrey offers ‘Nobody Hurries’ in Harrogate, Peter Knaggs gives us Hull, Clare Pollard Whitby, David Collard The Moor – all combine into a poetic panorama of the landscape and people of Yorkshire, from some of Yorkshire’s best poets.
The poems are all eminently readable in their own way – and this anthology is a captivating read.
‘The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry’ is edited by Miles Salter and Oz Hardwick, £9.99 paperback from Valley Press