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Inscribe-supported writer Degna Stone to publish new chapbook

Inscribe-supported writer Degna Stone is busy preparing for the release of her new chapbook, Handling Stolen Goods. Published under Peepal Tree's Inscribe imprint, Handling Stolen Goods is available for pre-order now.

Degna joins Peepal Tree authors Malika Booker, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Jacqueline Bishop, Anthony Joseph, Roger Robinson, Nick Makoha, Desiree Reynolds, Jacob Ross and Seni Seneviratne at our 34th anniversary bash on 7 March.

About the book

In this short collection of poems, Degna connects the trickster god Anansi, transported from West Africa to the Caribbean, to forms of working-class tricksterism amongst poor families in the UK seeking a small share of society’s worldly goods. Recalling the child’s experience of learning that truth-telling is a matter of context, especially when it relates to the presence of “hooky” VCRs in the house, these poems expand on that kind of ambiguity, and doubleness of language. In “Allotment” a child watches her “mum and dad pick over last night’s rows”. “Perfidia” both references a classic ska song and compares a partner’s deceiving communication to an update of the Apple software Siri. “Word of Mouth” conveys the differences in communication between the Caribbean-born generation and their British-born children in Britain.

These poems draw on the lives of Black working-class people of Caribbean heritage in both urban and rural spaces, and the cultural mix they create. Their imagery reflects the hybrid nature of the place, in poems inhabited by dogs, crows, birds and foxes. The imagery of the crow is particularly striking, evoking images of the bird as symbol of the ominous, but also of tenacity and boldness. When the poet declares “I want to be as black as the crows” she does more than just embrace blackness in resistance to prejudice; she insists that the crow both represents and expresses a harsh kind of beauty. Degna’s is not the kind of voice that is heard often enough in English poetry and her poems speak out for those who are “thieves, truants, scrappers, vandals. Trying to get what we don’t, what we can’t, have […] We are hard to control. Easy to manipulate. We are loud. We are waiting to be found.”

About the author

Degna Stone is a poet and producer who grew up in Birmingham and is now based in Tyne and Wear. She received a Northern Writers Award in 2015, holds an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University and is a fellow of The Complete Works III. She worked with Inscribe to produce this chapbook, Handling Stolen Goods.

Degna has performed at StAnza, Durham Book Festival and on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. Recent poems have appeared in Writing Motherhood (Seren), Some Cannot Be Caught: The Emma Press Book of Beasts (The Emma Press), Ten: Poets of the New Generation and The Mighty Stream: Poems in celebration of Martin Luther King (Bloodaxe). She is a co-founder and former Managing Editor of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine, and a contributing editor at The Rialto.

Degna has published two previous pamphlets, Between the Floorboards (ID on Tyne) and Record and Play (Red Squirrel Press).

Degna has just joined the board of New Writing North.

Find out more about Degna at degnastone.co.uk.

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