The New Brutalism – Shaun Hand and Tom Hicks
21st Century Britain. A Brutal, uncaring place marching headlong into fascism? The photographs of Tom Hicks capture the everyday scenes of urban decay, the sort of deterioration we’ve watched as it worsens year in, year out, the familiar, yet uncared for. The poetry of Shaun Hand provide companion pieces to these visual images; verbal images of a society in decay. We’ve watched it worsen year in, year out, the familiar, yet uncared for. This is the New Brutalism, a mix of stark realism and dark humour and profound statement from the collaboration between poet and photographer.  
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Poems Of Hope – Ian Henery
These Poems of Hope were born out of the Covid-19 pandemic which has swept away the old lifestyles of the entire world. Some are about what has befallen us all but the collection is far more wide ranging. There are poems for Ian’s daughters, for his partner, for his home town. Poems referencing local nature reserves, poems of Norse warriors and ancient gods, the Chinese Labour Corps, and  Sister Dora. Ian Henery is a successful local solicitor with offices across the West Midlands. But that’s just the day job. He is a prolific author and poet well known on the spoken word circuit. He is an indefatiguable supporter of his fellow wordsmiths and a generous supporter of local causes. Poems of Hope are indeed poems of Hope. This is as fine a collection of uplifting verse as you could wish to read. Ian Henery presents the Poetry Show on HOPE Radio 87.9FM. The station is a new project born out of the Covid-19 pandemic and is run by volunteers.   The cover photograph is of The Pillar Of Friendship at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire.  Within the pillar,  the panels are the work of sculptors from USA, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Palestine and the UK. As long as people from nations at conflict can unite in a project of friendship, there will always be HOPE.  
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Memories and Thoughts – Tossie Patrick
"There comes a thrush around each day To sing to us his merry lay" From The Thrush Several of her poems have been published previously in The Black Country Bugle but here, for the first time in one collection, are all the poems of TOSSIE PATRICK which cover such diverse subjects as the seasons, nature, and writing as well as describing her family and the Black Country. Includes; "An Ode to Shenstone Woods", "Flowers in Season", "Mill House", "Black Country Nostalga", "When Pat Collins Fun Fair Came To Blackheath."
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Marooned – Louise Mary Stokes
"The way she looked, the way she spoke to me. Those things she said, the threats, the put-downs, the vicious, snide tone of her voice, grinding me down, day after day, after day, until I became a shadow, a hollwed out shell, unable to think or function..." From In The Cold Light Of Day MAROONED is as author LOUISE MARY STOKES describes it, “a journey through bullying using poetry as the guide.” Just one look at Louise’s CV tells a story of a formidable woman, who has achieved intellectually and professionally, and more recently as a writer and performer. How can a woman like that be bullied? Well, bullies are everywhere and the bullies described in Marooned operated in the NHS, beloved by the British public. The NHS came into being in the context that health care being the sole preserve of the wealthy could not continue. But the NHS is changing. There was a sketch in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in 1983 in which the patient was an afterthought. It was satire, and not meant to be the blueprint for future health care. In these days of targets one begins to wonder. To this we can add the welter of paper protocols in the name of Quality Assurance that in fact assure that quality doesn’t enter into it as the context of service to patients is stripped from the equation. It takes a certain type of person to manage this. Today’s NHS is constipated with functionaries, the frankly not very good who can’t or don’t do context, only paper protocol. In this environment another type of person flourishes alongside the functionary, a type of person whose skills are valued when hitting targets is the prime aim… the psychopath. Not the knife wielding maniacs depicted by Hitchcock and Hopkins but the bog standard person without a conscience who operates by distorting reality, draining their victims of their humanity like vampires. Another of their skills is superficial charm, wolves in sheep’s clothing who take people in and avoid detection. That is how even formidable people can be bullied. MAROONED charts a course through that process. It isn’t about the bullies as such. While it is important that the existence of bullies in our public services is broadcast, MAROONED is above all the compelling story of one woman’s survival. American psychologist Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door has written, “living well is the best form of revenge.” Bullies do not like people who are truly alive and beyond their power. In writing MAROONED, Louise Stokes has shown them that she is now living well.
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Rescued – Louise Mary Stokes
Louise Mary Stokes’ emerging profile as an author, poet, performer and comedienne was preceded by a flourishing career as a mental health professional in the NHS... Until she fell foul of bullies. She wrote of her experiences at their hands in MAROONED. Louise described MAROONED as “a one-off, a desire to share an experience of pain and hope, to help those immersed in similar experiences know that they are not alone, and to help those who are not to understand.” But, Louise recognizes, “one must confront not only the bad bits in others, but also the resultant unsavoury parts of oneself. Aspects that one never knew about or wanted to exist, brought from one’s core to the surface by trauma and crisis created by other human beings.” RESCUED describes this road to true healing and show that:- BULLYING IS A CRIME TO SURVIVE IT IS AN ART
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Billy United – Billy Spakemon
Brian Dakin has been performing as Billy Spakemon since the 1990s, driven by his vision of promoting the language, the spake, of his forebears and his beloved Black Country. In 2001 the Kates Hill Press published his first collection Chant of the Mutha Tung. Two more volumes followed, Cor Yow Shurrup a Minit Billy, and Tummy Jones Odebry Mon. Billy United brings together all three of these previous books in one volume plus some new material. Billy United charts Billy Spakemon’s progression from his early days to the present, as the top performance poet of the Black Country and tireless champion of our culture through his shows on Black Country Radio and live events at which the broad range of local talent can be showcased.  
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Edna and Arthur – Carol Midwood
"Our Arthur," said Edna, "Oy'm off ter see Mom "Er cor abide yo' so yo'd better not come." From DIY At Edna and Arthur's A booklet of poems about the composite characters Edna and Arthur. Carol and her husband John once kept the Old Mill, a Holden's house in Upper Gornal. Edna and Arthur are based on the many parts of their regulars. Join Arthur doing DIY and the housework, accompany them on trips to Ikea, Spain and the Stourbridge Beer Festival. Meet their pets, the cats and Gnasher the dog. Whatever they do, a trip to the pub is never far away for Arthur, and Edna isn't averse to a tipple herself. The booklet is complimented with illustrations by Karen Brockhouse.
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Cor Yow Shurrup A Minit Billy! – Billy Spakemon
Billy Spakemon is the stage and pen name of Brian Dakin. As a child, as the title suggests, Brian could ’gie aspro the yed airche’ as he just wouldn’t stop rattling. As an adult, thankfully, he is no different. Dedicated to the promotion of the Black Country dialect as the core of our identity, Billy Spakemon’s output of poems, stories and songs in his ‘mutha tung’ is truly prodigious, reminiscent of the output of Bob Dylan in his youth. Billy has been performing his work across the region for years and is it’s finest performance poet. This collection of consists of poems, stories and songs, many of which have been performed live at the Lamp Tavern in Dudley where he is resident, and elsewhere. The Graiyte Eskairpe is also available on CD. So, sit back get yer yed in his book, tune into his spake, and enjoy the bard of the Black Country. Foreword by Professor Carl Chinn MBE
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