Jack Mckeever's Reviews > Lyrically Justified: Volume 2

Lyrically Justified by Shaun Clarke
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it was amazing

The second edition in Shaun Michael Clark’s mission to get Britain’s underrepresented voices heard

The lines between poetry, performance art and musical expressionism have always been blurred. Lyrically Justified Volume 2, like it’s predecessor, has been compiled by Bristol activist Shaun Michael Clark, and is pitched as ‘an inspiration for change’. Featuring contributions from 42 people from varying backgrounds and searching for identity through a thrilling range of perspectives, memories and structural surrealisms, the compilation evokes all the pain, hope and in some cases very desperate need for reform in modern Britain.

Although every single contributor delivers their prose with unique and distinct character, there are several running themes permeating through the book. Femininity, human compassion, depression, music and hope are all central to the collection’s core, and all are twisted into various new guises and forms, sometimes following linear and definably modern narratives, and other times veering off on metaphysical tangents. It’s in these moments, like Waltraud Popischil’s ‘Donna Quixoth’ or Emfyahsis MC’s jarring ‘The Soil’, upon which the words, their appearance and meaning coalesce and unveil themselves slowly, creeping out of the pages, unsure of their destination but knowing that their existence and release is necessary.

The language in many of the poems has sheer and direct connotations, but most of them brilliantly balance their approach to global issues with the local. Given the toxicity that has surrounded so many forms of debate since Grenfell, the ongoing refugee crisis and most recently the Windrush scandal, the poems here cut through the venom and act as purveyors of the voices that really matter. ‘Crimson Sky’ by Nathanial Superbeastmode Benson, uses apocalyptic visuals to reflect the pain of those very same situations, while David Punter’s ‘The Ballad of Refuge’ calls for unity behind an idea that does away with borders and nationalities and asserts that all those in need of help are worthy of it.

The more intimate and personal hells that many minorities experience are represented in beautiful fashion here too. Mama D’s ‘Fearlessness’ draws on the nightmarish aspects of being a mother and indeed a woman in the Trump era, and Lauren Living Harrison’s constant reconstruction of accepted standards of layout and punctuation reflect the same chaotic insecurities, especially in ‘Bi-polar’.

Lyrically Justified Volume 2 is a beautiful diaspora; not only does it navigate the heritage of and injustices felt by so many people whose voices are largely being drowned out by the more ignorant sectors of society, but it confronts those issues in a passionately refreshing way.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 16, 2018 – Shelved

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