Friday, 16 July 2010

Back in the USSR

Andy Croft, a Five Leaves' regular, is also a publisher. Over at Smokestack he publishes thin volumes of verse by lefties from this country, from Eastern Europe and "the other America". Now we have a thick volume, 312 pages of poetry and a 313th page listing leftie poets and the like who made it possible. The volume is Common Cause by Francis Combes, ably translated from French by Alan Dent of Penniless Press. Massive in size, massive in scope, a study of communism the idea, over two millennia, and Communism in practice. Among those listed on page 313 is the Northern Region of the Communist Party of Britain which is nice of them as the book does not hold back in criticising what went wrong. Just as Rabbi Hillel could shorten the Torah to something like don't do to others what you find hateful for people to do to you, Rabbi Bradshaw could shorten this book to the slogan painted on a statue of Marx in Berlin after the Wall came down "We'll do better next time". The slogan appears in the poem "Berlin '89". As a set of very short essays on ideas, people, places and events the book works wonderfully. Some purists might argue with the work as poetry, but some purists wouldn't know a trade union banner if it came up and bit them. Anyone who likes Bert Brecht (who makes a cameo appearance) will like this book. You can order copies from

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