The Migrant Ship / #refugees welcome: Poems in a Time of Crisis
These two pamphlets from indie poetry presses in the UK showcase how poets across the pond have been responding to the Syrian Civil War, the confrontation with the West staged by ISIS, the refugee crisis that has arisen as a result, plus the immigration nightmare and its consequent social inequalities—all of which are felt more immediately and intensely there than in the U.S.#refugees welcome, which is a short anthology, includes English poets long associated with social action, such as Tom Phillips, alongside many younger voices originating from the Middle East, such as Alice Yousef and Zeina Hashem Beck. The poems vary widely, from verse reportage of working in the refugee camps (Thomas McColl), to spare, rhythmically taut images of violence (Kate Noakes), to the unsettling ironic distances between a world intact and another blown apart (Rosemary Appleton). The poems all evoke the radical American poet, Thomas McGrath’s idea of the tactical poem, intended to move and mobilize people to a cause, in this case social justice for the dispossessed. Murray’s The Migrant Ship works differently, teasing out the psychological implications of diaspora that are at once beautifully spare, allegorically open, and made with tough craft.
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Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 2: 2