Poems in which the post-industrial landscape of England's north-east comes alive through its many contradictions - Brexit and EU regeneration grants, sacred and secular, concrete and visionary - and also finds wider resonance as a symbol of human fragility, humour and perseverance.
'All the birds
we didn’t have names for
in that flat above the roundabout
have found their way
to this sweet parenthesis
within smelling distance of the sea.
'There is a type of nostos - that classical trope of the return home after great trials exemplified by The Odyssey - which does not involve exile in the literal sense, but rather a transformation or correction of the imaginative terms in which ‘home’ is seen. The corrigenda referred to in the title of Jake Morris-Campbell’s first collection enact a series of poignant yet utterly unsentimental versions of this internalised return, in which it’s not so much that he’s been away, it’s more that everything has either changed, or needs to be. On the one hand, as he portrays, Austerity and Brexit has done particularly fell work to the North-East, psychologically as well as economically. On the other, this is a poetry charged with an intense, almost visionary apprehension of the region as a poetic polity.
'He is constantly achieving a sort of synoptic view that on the one hand imagines his parents in a 80s nightclub about to be obliterated by Soviet nuclear missile strike, and on the other sees him reinventing the roads and motorways of the region as pilgrimage routes for the haliwerfolc of the Palatinate.
'His work is as much influenced by literary antecedents like William Martin and Anne Stevenson as by more familiar presences like Bunting, Pickard, or MacSweeney, and he shares with lyric contemporaries like Peter Armstrong and Gillian Allnutt a sense of the sacred as something pervading the secular and post-industrial landscape. In this sense his work both positions the North-East as a major literary territory, and adds to its achievement.' – W.N. Herbert
'Flaming out of the specificity and music of place, this is a work of wonderful vibrancy, wroughtness and resonance.' – Jacob Polley
Corrigenda for Costafine Town by Jake Morris-Campbell (ISBN: 9781916405196)
I took Great-Granda Nick’s Davy lamp
down to the tool shed, set it on the chest freezer,
glugged paraffin into the base,
sparked the flue and waited for ignition.
Hoping to enter his life and times,
to return and hold them as models,
I’d imagined the bowels beneath Boldon
and Westoe: firedamp sky of worlds
more rich despite their autarky.
I have heard that the absence of flames
makes the shivering castaway pine more
cruelly, sends him hallucinating
snakes of naptha and kerosene.
All along he knew the slag-heaps and wagon
chares, the weight of the earth above
and the distances still to go.
Ornamental now, Davy’s become a puzzle
and Nicholas is muzzled.
Get out of this sink estate, Nick:
buff your boots, recite the Lord’s prayer,
slick back your hair and hold your chest high.
You’re out of the shaft now, air is crisp.
Put the lamp on the mantle and inhale.
Breathe without thinking of breathing.
Jake Morris-Campbell was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, in 1988. He is the author of two pamphlets of poetry: The Coast Will Wait Behind You (Art Editions North, 2015) and Definitions of Distance (Red Squirrel Press, 2012).
In 2021 he was selected as a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker. His work has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking and in magazines, newspapers and journals including Ambit, Poetry London and The Rialto. Jake holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, where he works part-time as a research and teaching assistant. A freelance writer, editor and tutor, he is also Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Chester.
A winner of New Writing North’s Waterhouse award, he regularly contributes to collaborative public arts projects. He lives in South Tyneside with his wife and children.
Corrigenda for Costafine Town is his first full collection.