Security Alert

Before you read this
I have to ask you some questions:
Could you tell me if you are any of the following:
migrant, immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker, émigré,
clandestine, sans papiers, foreigner,
or a son or daughter of any of the above
or if you LOOK like as if you could be any of the above?
In which case please
state your name, date of birth
height, weight, inside leg measurement, blood group, hospital records,
skin colour, income,
preferred sandwich type.

Are you in receipt of any loans or any imported meat products?
Do you intend to stay in this country longer than two minutes?
Do you intend to study anything that is not maths?
Do you have a wife, husband or both?
Please sing the national anthem when I say the word ‘Queen’
And answer the following questions:
why is Britain great?
why is everywhere else not so great?
what is the Anglo Saxon word for great?
do you wear red, white and blue underwear?

Please step this way.
To see if you have answered all these questions truthfully,
we need to do a rectal examination.

by Michael Rosen

There are just a few weeks left to enter our International Poetry Competition! We’re delighted to say that our judge this year is the Forward Prize-winning poet Fiona Benson. As always, we have two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. The winners in each receive £1000, with £200 for the runners up. The deadline for entries is 14 September. For more details and to enter, visit our website.

Our latest podcast, with American poet Maya C. Popa, is now live! You can find it on our website and via the usual podcast providers – just search for brookespoetry. Maya discusses her exciting new collection, American Faith (Sarabande Books, 2019), and you can find the poems she reads and talks about on our Podcasts page.

‘Security Alert’ is copyright © Michael Rosen, 2017. It is reprinted from Listening to a Pogrom on the Radio (Smokestack Books, 2017) by permission of Smokestack Books.

Notes from Smokestack Books:

‘Poetry can stick up for the weak’ according to Michael Rosen, or it can ‘mock the mighty’; it can ‘glorify our rulers or it can dissect them. You choose.’ In these powerful new poems Rosen is clear about his own choices. Listening to a Pogrom on the Radio is a book about anti-Semitism, racism, fascism and war, Trump, Le Pen, and the Tory assaults on the NHS and education – the stupid and the sinister, the ridiculous and the revolting. In his first collection for grown-ups since Don’t Mention the Children (2015), Michael Rosen confirms his reputation as the heir to Jacques Prévert, Ivor Cutler and Adrian Mitchell. Few poets writing today can move so effortlessly between childishness and childlike seriousness, or dare to ask, like the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, why the silly emperor is not wearing any clothes. Read more about the book and buy a copy on the  Smokestack website.

Michael Rosen was born in North London in 1946. After university he worked for the BBC on Play School and Schools TV. He has written and edited over 140 books, including Mind Your Own Business, Wouldn’t You Like to Know, Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy, You Tell Me, No Breathing in Class and Quick Let’s Get Out of HereYou Can’t Catch Me! won the Signal Poetry Award. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, won the Smarties Prize. He currently presents Radio Four’s long-running Word of Mouth. His most recent books include The Disappearance of Emile ZolaThe AuthorWorkers’ TalesReading Rebellion and So They Call You Pisher! He was Children’s Laureate from 2007-2009 and is Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmith’s, University of London. Find out more about Michael’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Smokestack is an independent publisher of radical and unconventional poetry run by Andy Croft. Smokestack aims to keep open a space for what is left of the English radical poetic tradition in the twenty-first century. Smokestack champions poets who are unfashionable, radical, left-field and working a long way from the metropolitan centres of cultural authority. Smokestack is interested in the World as well as the Word; believes that poetry is a part of and not apart from society; argues that if poetry does not belong to everyone it is not poetry. Smokestack’s list includes books by John Berger, Michael Rosen, Katrina Porteous, Ian McMillan, Steve Ely, Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Gustavo Pereira (Venezuela), Heinrich Heine (Germany), Andras Mezei (Hungary), Yiannis Ritsos (Greece) and Victor Jara (Chile). David Cain’s Truth Street, an epic-poem that is part oral history and part documentary theatre, draws on eye-witness testimonies of the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2019. You can find Smokestack on Facebook and on Twitter.  

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.