The best recent poetry

Written by Rishi Dastidar for The Guardian on Saturday, August 8th, 2020

Another debut, Marvin Thompson’s Road Trip (Peepal Tree, £9.99), is an invigorating journey through complexities of black British family life. A ghost, perhaps his father, who served in the British army, returns to the poet, “‘re-born,’ // he told me, / ‘over and over’”, from the Peterloo massacre to Aden to Helmand. This imperial legacy is further explored as Thompson reports on bringing up his children in the Welsh countryside, worrying what happens if they “choose / to identify // as White / in a Britain // that will call them Black?” In “An Interview With Comedy Genius Olivier Welsh” a less than successful comedian wonders why his career hasn’t gone quite to plan. But what appears to be whimsy is actually a sharp weapon: “Maybe then, the truth’s just been revealed: / the Black part of me’s not funny at all.”