Free agents, this is how we made our way,
our used car swerving through the new estates.
It was late springtime and the fields of oil-seed rapeflashed out their yellow signal to the sky.
We travelled incognito and we didn’t cast a vote.
Night found us parked up on some empty beachto watch the moon come clear and fade.
The European flag was everywhere—twelve stars
encircling nothing on a ground of midnight blue.The cities had no feature and the landscape had no soul.
Girls waved from the corner as we hit the open road,
our every exit covered by a camera on a pole.
Copyright © 2017 by Ian Parks
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Ian Parks was born in 1959 in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. The son of a miner, he has taught creative writing at the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Oxford, De Montfort and Hull. His many collections include Gargoyles in Winter, Shell Island, The Landing Stage, Love Poems 1979-2009, The Exile’s House and The Cavafy Variations. He is the editor of Versions of the North: Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry and runs Read to Write in Doncaster.
Ian Parks’ new collection is a book about the tensions between poetry and politics, the spoken and the unspoken, the public and the private. Accompanied by the ghosts of Ella Fitzgerald, Honeyboy Edwards and the Chartist Poets Ebenezer Elliott and Ernest Jones, Parks listens to ‘the language of the lost and dispossessed’ as he explores sites of painful historical memory—from Blackstone Edge, Cable Street, Burford and Orgreave to Wotton Bassett, Ellis Island and the killing fields of Ypres and Bapaume. Written from ‘the sharp edge of the north’, Citizens asks questions about class and identity—personal and collective, regional and national—about the responsibilities of the individual in the face of state oppression, and what it might mean to be a citizen rather than a subject.
‘Ian Parks has an instantly recognisable voice: spare, lyrical, memorable, and intense. Whatever subject he addresses—historical, political, romantic—he transforms through the sheer force of his poetic identity.’
‘A real poetic gift: pure poetry written as though coming ready-made from outside him.’
—John Powell Ward
‘Reading a poem by Ian Parks is like hearing your name uttered in the din of a public place: you hear it regardless of the background noise.’