Harry Whitewolf’s hard-hitting, straight-talking, seventh collection of poetry combines topical anti-establishment and anti-fascist themes with anecdotal reminiscing, personal confessions, and verse about immigration, television, drugs, pubs, cigs and gigs, delivered with Whitewolf’s humorous, playful, passionate and distinctive voice.
Unpretentious and powerful poetry for the underbelly of twenty-first century society.
He's the author of two ragamuffin travelling tales: Route Number 11 (about Harry's five-month drunken journey around Argentina; and across the borders to Paraguay, Chile and Brazil) and The Road To Purification (which describes his mad-as-fuck pot-smoking trip around Egypt). In addition, Harry has written ten collections of distinctive contemporary poetry, including The Gulag Village Green, New Beat Newbie, and the award-winning Rhyme and Rebellion.
Whitewolf was also co-editor and contributor of The Anti-Austerity Anthology, a book for charity which has been featured in The Canary and on the Steve Topple and George Galloway online show.
Over the years, Harry has performed his poetry at the Portobello Festival, the Winchester literature fringe festival and numerous open mic. nights and gigs. These days however, he prefers making fun and quirky performance vids from the comfort of his smoky flat. You can find Harry's performances on his website: www.harrywhitewolf.com
He also writes and illustrates funny children's books, that grown-ups can enjoy too, under the pen name of Mr. Wolf. Check out Mr. Wolf's books and cartoon illustrations on his website: www.booksforchildren.wix.com/mrwolf
As if that weren't enough to be getting on with, Harry's poetry has appeared in four other anthologies and you can find his wacky fiction in the unique books ReejecttIIon - a number two and They're Making It Up As They Go Along, which Harry co-authored with Daniel Clausen. Whitewolf also wrote the foreword for punk-poet Andy Carrington's kick-arse book What's Wrong With The Street!
Amongst all of that, Harry somehow finds time for his day job as an article writer and illustrator.
Harry Whitewolf was born in England in 1976. He hopes to see world peace in his lifetime, and yes, Harry believes miracles are possible.
If only the world would follow Harry Whitewolf's Ten Commandments. They are fair and they make complete sense. Unfortunately, most of the planet is a clusterfuck made up of technology, unremitting status quo, warfare, bigotry and irrational leadership. Harry's writing is a jazzy flow of emotions and empathy for the downtrodden. If the underdogs do unite to make this world a better place, then count me in. And never forget The Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not be a dick. Amen.
You will not be able to stay at home, glued to Netflix on your laptop. You will not be able to add plug-ins, turn on security settings and zone out with Dropbox. You will not be able to lose yourself on porn.com Or whip it out for a quick release during YouTube commercials, Because the revolution will not be online."
Poetry is such an interesting medium... It can be fiction and non-fiction at the same time. The good thing about it, unless you know it straight from the poet/author, you will always be left wondering: which is it?
Either way, poetry takes interesting personal experiences and passion for knowledge. With both of those qualities backing the writer up, the verse will flow, open to interpretation for the reader. Underdogs Unite is an interesting collection of two differing themes, bridged by a characteristic of a life hungry soul.
There's the "nostalgic" side which account for those moments that every one of us in our lives bank into our memories to look back on with fondness, and then there's the other side... the other side which some readers could exclaim to: "Oh, it's one of THOSE"... and I know some readers would say that because I am one of THOSE as well... THOSE are the type of people that take the mainstream with a pinch of salt, balance it out with a bit of controversy and often get labelled as nuts. I'm cool with that.
An interesting and eclectic mix but the title really brings the whole into a thing of relevance. I actually checked up the meaning for 'underdog' and it means two things:
* someone who has little chance of winning a fight or contest, and ** person who has little status in society
You see, both of those meanings are covered in the poems... It's about people who fight the fight outside of what is considered the mainstream. The people considered nutters to believe some or all of the conspiracies...
It's also about people who don't even bother to try and fight the lies, the status quo, the system. The zombies... The nose-in-phone-in-Netflix-in-Facebook-in-CandyCrush kinda - whooosh, life passing them by and they haven't a clue...
I swear, I can understand those people... I work and I try to keep my reading/blogging hobby going and by the time I lift my fugly mug up from the screen/paper weeks have gone by! So ... is life meant to be lived this way? Should I not instead be spending time with actual people, exploring and chasing the actual human experience of... I don't know... gardening? Long walks? Camping? Having laughs and creating moments? Let's face it- bits of the system are fucked. It no worky!!!
The poems I liked most in this collection were the ones that without any remorse showed humanity its zombified face... "Notflix and chills", "Warbiz", "I'm so bored of Zombies"...
To finish off... you can find poems in any style- some made me rap in my head, some were free verse, some were rhyming to a perfect rhythm... What can I say? Have a read and see what you think... mind, the truth might get a bit too much to take at times but we all need a finger pointed at us sometimes. You know, to come off that high horse every once in a while...
Underdogs Unite shoves like a trick question. First in line - I keep seeing the title as Underdogs Untie. Every time. This fits with a collection blueprinted in a warm simplicity, callbacked to directness. So drenched in complexity, agendas and filth is the everyday, it takes a shuffling of files to accept the whittling and stripping contained within. Can everyone take that promised breath and step away from the content creators, for a second? I detest the rules of the screen, and do all I can to undermine, reclaim, in the face of futility. Second in line - how to will a way to a tolerable time spent. I know my reasons, those linings silver to be hoovered up like rails of saint dandruff. Kindness activated in the full glare of the knowledge of how things are and forever will be is, as someone said somewhere, a form of radicalism to be esteemed. It’s getting easier to feel stupefied, agog at the dissociative bandwagoneering. Where do you go when you tune out?
There’s a rallying quality to the rhyme, a nostalgia unapologetic in wishes to be resurrected for its essences, applicable now as then as humanity rocks on sleepers of consistency, if nothing else. And needs want.
Some of these poems are only a few words long. So fleeting, they opine with a glancing hand and draw back. Right now, such simplicity can only be met in generality with befuddlement and suspicion. Who wants to be had, after all? It’s an interesting effect, and demonstrates the generosity of what Harry does. This is in the top two of my personal Whitewolf countdown, as it’s a varied enough experience to be enjoyed and sustain interest throughout whilst simultaneously fruitfully displaying the themes and subjects Harry returns to. Rhymes are raging smiles on occasion, on days like this.
In Underdogs Unite, Harry Whitewolf uses a breadth of styles and approaches to convey pertinent ideas and also take a few trips down memory lane. Whether the tone of the poem be satirical, no-nonsense, reminiscent or critical, I found to it be entertaining throughout. Racists, homophobes, materialists, bankers, royalty and nearly all “bully types” are called out. The apathetic and tech-addicted populace could do much more to better the system, it’s been done before. My favorites:
Another cracking collection of in-your-face poetry from Harry Whitewolf, 'Underdogs Unite' takes a critical look at society and skewers it like a butterfly on a pin-board. 'Underdogs Unite' is like a punk album without the noise.
If you're feeling cheesed off with the excrement you're forced to wade through to get to the end of the day every day, having a read of this might make you feel a bit better. Or it might just make you angrier.
One of the things I like most about Harry's poetry is that, unlike a lot of modern poets, he doesn't completely abandon traditional poetic structure. His poems even rhyme sometimes! Imagine that...
I'm a huge fan of Harry Whitewolf aka "The Whitewolf" (check my other reviews of his books).
Most of the time with his titles you either get Micro Whitewolf or Macro Whitewolf.
His Micro version is poetry or prose (or a bit of both) about his own personal life experiences. His Macro version is same sort of writing style and genres but tackling big picture issues facing society now - things that really make you consider solutions for humanity.
But sometimes, every so often if you're really lucky, he delivers a book that gives you Micro and Macro Whitewolf all in one! And Underdogs Unite, ladies and gentleman, is one such book. You get Macro and Micro Whitewolf for the price of one!
I like how economical his poetry was in this book and feel somehow The Whitewolf has found a way to say much more with much fewer words as he's evolved as a poet.
This book made me think, laugh and feel empathetic at various times as it shifted between small personal life experiences and political issues. Especially liked how it ended with revised Ten Commandments, one of which was something like "Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick" or something like that.
I enjoyed the personal material and the ventures into flash fiction the best! Here's hoping for more. A prolific guy like Harry will I'm sure soon supply :)
The political material and conspiracy stuff isn't my personal taste, but I know that Harry's aware of that and doesn't delve into it as deeply as I'm sure he does in his discussions with likeminded folk :) My own beliefs are unfortunately unwavering and hold the central principle that most people are idiots. I'd love to know, for example, the percentage of 9/11 theorists who know how to tie their own shoelaces. Because I’m an elitist tosser sheeperson :P
This is an excellent Whitewolf primer, and those of you who are new to the man, get reading!!
'Speed Queen' and 'Schizophrenic Shrooms' ...yusss. Brilliant. Epic. I read that one over and over. It was like being there! Seriously, can I come next time? Other favs: 'One Night of Magic', 'I'm So Bored of Zombies', 'Racists' Tans' and this one really made me proud to know Harry 'Rainfall of shit upon the working poor/ Who are sidetracked by damn twerks and scores/ Save us from the Brave New World Order.' Mr. Whitewolf's work speaks volumes in guts and originality. This book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.
I find that reviewing a book on poetry can be a very difficult task. This is because one poem, if it is well written can penetrate parts of a person in the same way an entire book or film can. Harry Whitewolf’s latest collection of poems, Underdogs Unite, gives us a tsunami of words that will kick-start apathetic Western hearts. In order to be underdogs, there must be overlords and Harry has them in full supply. Ranging from royalty to politicians, fascists, bankers and a cabal of the ruling elite, Harry leaves no bully unscathed. He also gets personal! Alpha males, jingoistic nationalists, racists, homophobes and even self indulged online selfie addicts come under the underdog’s gaze. Whitewolf also skilfully blends his poems from different perspectives. Each underdog has their own voice. This is the real beauty of his poetry; each poem in Underdogs Unite is crafted around the theme of the ‘other’. Harry’s underdogs are as varied as his villains. We get an insight into the greater societal oppressions suffered by the poor, the unemployed, migrants, refugees and those people alienated because of the way they think or behave. However, Harry takes this miserable reality and layers on it his own form of humour and a sense of personal resilience and even optimism at the current plight of the Western world. I think we even see of the internal underdogs that revolve around Harry. Maybe his empathy with smokers, drinkers, drug takers and lovers of old style pubs come from personal experience because the visions he gives of these people and their points of view are very intimate. Given the depth and complexity of the themes presented in Underdogs Unite I have chosen to give a snapshot review of five poems that I have loved for different reasons. First, the poem Selfie had me both laughing and feeling as though I should throw my computer out the window. From the poem;
“Wait, I need to look more healthy. Wait, I need to look more wealthy. Look at me in my selfie. Look at me! Look at me mum! Look at me! I’m so awesome!”
He also gives us an invitation into his own world as an aspiring poet. The poem One Night of Magic gives us an insight into the mind of the aspiring poet and his craft;
“One night of cheers. ‘Lager ‘N’ Rhyme’ was much more than just beers.”
Harry also has that scary ability to cut through the crap of life. The rapid fire penetrative force of the deadly short poem, Homophobic;
“Homophobic men Love a finger up the arse.”
What we all think but won’t say in Adult Colouring Books;
“Adult colouring books. Seriously, what the fuck?”
But for me, it is the last poem in Underdogs Unite that gives us all the promise that things can be ok; with ourselves and the world around us. Harry Whitewolf’s Ten Commandments culminate in five words that could help us all make a better world. “thou shall not be a dick”. This collection of poems expresses some of the harder questions of our time from the perspective of someone who is brave enough to look into the abyss eye to eye and then see a way out for all of us. From Look at the good; “And know that we can make this world a better one, Because that is something we have already done”.
Where to begin with this book? First off, this collection is far longer than Harry’s previous releases and that is a majorly good thing, it’s like he has stepped up a level and is closer to the famous beat poets of the past. Secondly, he mentions Red Dwarf, Hell yeah!
When I read a poetry book I always like to look for that one poem that stands out and announce that that one is my favourite, in this book though I’d find my favourite, a few pages later I’d find a new favourite and yet a few more pages later a new favourite would pop up. I read this book on my phone and took screen shots of my favourites, I kid you not I have 32 images of the book on my phone now and I’m still struggling to pick my favourite. I have always enjoyed it when Harry plays with words and in “SCHIZOPHRENIC SHROOMS” he messes with words and fonts, so I pick that one as the winner. Being quite innocent I don’t really understand why the fonts and words go crazy once he has eaten mushrooms, none of the mushrooms I buy from Tesco do that, maybe Harry is allergic?
You get a wide range of poems here, observations, fun stuff, naughty mind altering stuff and political….stuff. There is a lot of outrage in the political poems, I could easily see myself watching Harry stood on a stage or outside Downing street reciting into a megaphone whilst nodding my head in agreement.
It is not all poems though, somehow Harry has got his hands on the minutes from a secret government meeting and has published them throughout the book, I don’t think you’ll be surprised what they discuss.
Here is one of the highlights of the political poems….another one of my favourites 😊
Kill one person and you’re a murderer. Kill a few people and you’re a serial killer. Kill thousands of people and you’re a president.
Another superb collection from the mighty Harry Whitewolf.
PS: I dunno what it is but weird things happen to me when I read Harry’s books, even as I type this review I got a text from my wife at 12.34pm.
When I first started reading poetry (not all that long ago to be honest), I didn't care for the long collection because of my poor attention span, but I've completely come around on that after this one! Plus, the digital format for reading is so much harder for me so that definitely played into my discontent, and once I had Underdogs in my actual hand--in the flesh of its spine, the bone of my fingers--I couldn't get enough at points!
This book covers injustice on every level and from one side of the globe to the next. It was very interesting for me to read a UK perspective on American politics/conspiracies. It was also more interesting to realize how SIMILAR our two countries are... we just don't have a royal family to support with our taxes... which really, really sucks for you guys in the UK. Like seriously. It's as if American taxpayers decided to support Beyonce because we just love being entertained by her tabloids/adventures as an inflated celebrity. How does this royal family not have enough money to live on their own? How do they not know how to make more money from money like bankers?? I can't wrap my american head around it. It's just making me angry.
Moving on... Another aspect I enjoy to these larger collections is really getting to know the person whose name is on the cover. Short, niche poetry collections just don't round out a human the way 200 pages can. It's so worth the investment. Especially with Harry, what a heart of steel. Warm on the inside, behind the cloud of smoke and middle fingers. His face may be forever averted from the media, but he's real and I like that in a book ;)
In Underdogs Unite, Mr. Whitewolf is encouraging all of us underdogs out there to stand up and put our oppressors in place. Just say 'no' to unequal rights, racism, bigotry, wages beyond minimal, sexism, and becoming another smartphone zombie.
He addresses many of the major problems in our contemporary world head-on and sometimes very humorously so this book was very enjoyable to read.
When he talks about underdogs and people suffering in ghettos and on the streets, he is talking about the Fellaheen of Burroughs and Kerouac, which goes back to Spengler's famous classic The Decline of the West.
His poems which describe the horrors and joys of various drugs such as magic mushrooms resonated with this author, although for me on almost every single occasion (except once) it was a truly joyous time. Some people may know this but to some it might come as a surprise - in Japan, magic mushrooms used to be LEGAL in Japan about 15 years ago. And I was there and would buy a big bunch off a local Japanese guy in Shinsaibashi. And then share them with my friends - usually dried ones we would squash between Pringles to kill the taste (a trick a friend taught me). Boy, those were the days. Once the authorities found out about them, they became illegal pretty much overnight unfortuantely, and then the previous mushroom suppliers began to import peyote instead (which I believe is a MUCH stronger psychedelic). Simply mushrooms had been LEGAL up until that time for the reason that there was no law in existence at the time prohibiting them. Mescaline I have never tried but the way Harry describes it, it sounds fascinating. Also his story about the white weed in Amsterdam which was a little too potent - I can relate to that too. When I was living in Provence back in 1996, someone gave me a toke of something (I literally had 3 puffs) and I did not know what was going on for about half a day. TOO strong and hence not enjoyable. Anything with regular potency is far more enjoyable.
The most important messages I got from this book are ones I share very strongly and deeply with Harry - all this damn texting, posting, taking of selfies etc. has meant that people have sacrificed many of the good old ways of passing the time and having fun with friends. It's just as bad in Japan Harry I hate to say it. Not a day goes by where I find myself dodging to avoid running into a smartphone zombie who shuffles around me, not even saying sorry half the time. The thing is - I teach young people English in Japan and they KNOW it's a problem. Almost every single one of them says that people use their smartphones (dumbphones) too much but they are addicted. Don't even get me started on selfies - that's a whole other load of batshit.
I was glad and relieved to know that someone else out there doesn't think I'm crazy. When I don't post anything on Facebook for a while, people come up and say, "you haven't posted anything on FB for a while!!" (with a smirk on their face). And my response to that is, "yeah, so?" I have a life to life, a family to raise for crissakes. "What if I have nothing to share with you?" I want to say. I mean who honestly cares if I had ramen noodles today for lunch or not......how is THAT going to improve someone else's life? We are being distracted by the authorities - smoke and mirrors. That's one of the many themes in this nice book, too.
Anyway, you get my point. Harry addresses all of these modern-day addictions and frustrations and is banging a gigantic gong as a wake-up call to all of us to try and remember what our priorities are, not forget that there are poor and suffering people in our world and that if our leaders are damned incompetent (as most of them have shown through their piss-poor handling of both domestic and foreign affairs), then VOTE THEM OUT OF FUCKING OFFICE - which is exactly what they deserve.
Thank you Harry for this book and for reminding me that there are many of us out there secretly fighting their own little wars against the system, or as Peter Tosh put it perfectly - the SHITSTEM. Let's slowly bring down the SHITSTEM and replace it with sensible and healthy values that we all share and believe in. Let's do it! Not only for ourselves, but more importantly for Mankind.
I would first like to thank Harry Whitewolf for generously making Underdogs Unite, and various other texts, available on Amazon for free.
Whitewolf's poetry is remarkable. He is blessed with the rare gift of satirical commentary and black humour that courses through all of his work. I didn't stop smiling the entire time. With a variety of forms, poetry length and techniques the poetry is diverse and entertaining, while shedding light on serious issues the world faces.
I particularly loved the commentary on toxic masculinity and refugees. By analysing these 'issues' Whitewolf is able to point out criticisms that are invalid, or in many cases, hypocritical. I have a feeling Whitewolf engages in a more socialist form of political/governmental structure - something I deeply agree with - which made the poetry more realistic and satisfying.
My absolute favourite is 'Biting my Tongue with the General Public When I'm at Work'. If the title isn't relatable enough, the poem sure is.
Minorities was also another stand out - "Fascists always attack minorities, Which is an irony, ‘Cos fascists are a minority."
The text wasn't all roses, with some deeply personal pieces reflecting struggles with mental health and social stigmas. I found these poems were reflective of my own experiences and I truly thank Whitewolf for putting the pain and suffering of mental health in a poem that I found relatable.
The only gripe I had with the book was the typical stance of 'back in the day things were better'. On several occasions the 'Good-Old-Days' were referenced and the cliched notion that children don't appreciate the complexity of modern technology because they are ungrateful. I'm certain that 40 years olds don't watch their food rotate in microwaves because they are accustomed to the way it works. Take someone that is a litter bit older, and I'm sure they think 'those 40 year old's don't appreciate modern technology - back in my day we didn't have microwaves etc.'
I would highly recommend this text to anyone looking for poetry to gain a better insight into topical issues, or broaden their horizons.
Underdogs Unite (or "UU" as I call it) is one of the largest collections of writings from Harry Whitewolf. My preference leaned towards reflections of the past, like his memories of a rock festival, or a poetry fest he organized. I also read the controversial poetry video Constable Cunt. I could relate, I've had a few of my videos banned on YouTube, too. Sometimes I think they make their staff pick viddies to ban just to keep them busy. What else did I like? His piece on alpha males and testosterone monsters was woefully short, I could have read more on that. And speaking of testosterone creeps, I agree, enough with these naff zombie shows!
Hard hitting and relevant poetry covering the hot topics of today from technology (When was the last time you have seen Hadron Colliders in a poem), immigration, live wage, political leaders, consumerism, and meat...particular dog meat. All of this is tied together with some nostalgia of cigs and gigs.
I too am full of frustration for our leadership and social structures of the world around me. I like Harry’s poetry. It speaks to and for the common man, and validates my peaceful anarchist ideology. I’m glad the world has been put to rights. Cheers for that.
As a tree loving, homeless, hippie, vegetarian without any money, I related to a lot of these pieces. Veggie Rage had me laughing out loud. Although, as a straight edge snowflake, I am outraged at the reckless liberal approach shown to smoking, drugs, and alcohol. It’s just a tad irresponsible and maybe this book should be banned. At least Harry isn’t a fascist (probably).
This collection has the political and social commentaries that I’ve enjoyed in many of Harry’s other stuff that I’ve read, but it also felt a little more confessional and reflective in parts which was just as engaging. I enjoyed it.
P.S. I will now be referring to the right wing as ‘the far wrong’. Clever.
The title is "Underdogs Unite," so I had expected most of the author’s poems to at least adhere to this theme, whether a poem is serious in tone, or comical, or satirical, or sarcastic. But nope! Not really. It’s all over the place. But that’s all right. I can deal with that.
There were a couple of gems, like “Refugee.” I think I like that poem best. It was satirical, sure, but insightful and had substance.
But the majority of the “poems” in the book sound like journal entries, or very short stories, or partial blogs, or Facebook comments. I get that the author is trying on satire using comment-style writing that you normally find on Facebook and Twitter—a lot of Ranting—but that’s kind of lazy, imho, and not really “poetry.” But sure, some are kinda funny. I guess it all depends on your subjective definition of “poetry.” For me, poetry is elegant, insightful, and moving. It should part some kind of wisdom and speak to your heart and soul. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of rhyming words (if that, even) with no substance. I suppose if you’re into comic books, “Underdogs” would be like the comic book of poetry. And that’s cool. To each their own. (See what I did there with gender neutrality? ;)
Also, half the rhymes are very Shel Silverstein-esque. A lot of rhymes like this one:
"We want trees. So please take care Of the environment. We want fresh air. Not Pine Fresh scented aerosols; We want trees, you damn arseholes."
And then there’s this (actually, A Lot of this sort in the book):
"Someone getting their f***ing Smart phone out And f***ing sharing a f***ing unfunny f***ing talking Labrador."
If you’re into that, that’s awesome, man. Good for you.
This book might draw the tail end of the Gen X set (where I fit in), with walks down memory lane about grunge concerts and mosh pits and getting high. Yeah, been-there-done-that, so I get it. I get wanting to immortalize certain experiences, and I respect the author’s decision to write a “poem” about it. That’s totally cool. His “poetry” on those experiences didn’t grab me, though; they just felt completely out of place. And very “non-poetry,” as I define it.
Bottom line: Poetry is highly subjective, and I’m sure Whitewolf will find the perfect audience. But for me, poetry is a distillation of a thing down to its essence; it’s emotionally-triggering, with elegantly put words and phrases, like art. I suppose the author’s poetry IS art, but more graffiti-style rather than Da Vinci. (And peeps, I grew up in graffiti-filled big cities, so, just to add some street cred here.) That’s cool too. Just not for me. So, to be honest, it didn’t win me over. But three stars for trying and kudos for relevance (Brexit, Trump, etc.). Plus, it just might resonate with others who like Social Media Comment-Style, Comic-Book, Graffiti Art, Light-on-Insight Rant and Wordplay.