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Thrasivoulou makes a bad situation so much better

Ben Cowles reviews The Best of a Bad Situation by Jamie Thrasivoulou

The Best of a Bad Situation by Jamie Thrasivoulou (Silhouette Press, £6)

 

THE BEST of a Bad Situation is a collection of vibrant, discontented and evocative poetry by Derby native Jamie Thrasivoulou.

A painter and decorator by trade, Thrasivoulou writes from, for and about his city’s forgotten, ignored, neglected and abused communities and his poems are laced with an undercurrent of rage against the injustices and systematic inequalities of Britain’s outdated class system.

Full of righteous indignation and defiance at literary snobs who look down their noses at the working class in their rough-cast houses as a blemish both on society and the literary landscape, That Pebbledash Finish is one of the collection’s standouts, while Anthem for the Racist White Trash is an impassioned demolition of the oft-heard and ridiculous argument that immigrants and refugees are only here to steal those jobs we dream of.

Dead Letters tells the tale of a trip to a vandalised postbox and a quick escape from a suspicious and hostile cop and its sequel, About that Post Box, appears later in the book and spins that tale on its head.

In Beneath a Banana Moon, Thrasivoulou brilliantly encapsulates the build of adrenaline as the narrator walks home on a dark night and passes a stranger who looks ready for a punch-up.

But, as with many of the intriguingly unpredictable works here, the poem flips and remorse takes over — the person seen as a threat is actually a victim of society.

There are lighter moments — Thrasivoulou wonders how seagulls like their fish cooked, what makes a true liar and being sidetracked by nature when hanging out the washing.

After years of neoliberalism and with the left and socialism once again reaching working-class people, we need voices like Thrasivoulou to not only make the best of a bad situation but also to envisage a better society.

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