Raymond Antrobus’s award-winning collection of poems is a must-read for the new year. Exploring themes of race, language, identity and loss the poems bring to light the struggles of the people known as “the minority” through wit and careful crafting Raymond Antrobus creates a new “hybrid territory” in-between sign language and speech.

Having personally experienced struggle as a mixed-race and partially deaf writer Raymond Antrobus truly writes from a deep place making the poems feel more intimate. One of my personal favourite poems in the collection is his poem in response to Ted Hughes’s “Deaf School”, as pictured above, which contains no words but serves its purpose of bowdlerizing offensive material (which is the entire poem). In Ted Hughes’s poem, he compares deaf people to primitive animals which is shocking almost as shocking as the fact that schools teach his poems like “Hawk Roosting” to students without teaching them of his archaic opinions. In modern society, people should be fully exposed to a writer’s works and beliefs as Raymond Antrobus does through his poems.

Another thing that makes Raymond Antrobus’s poems insightful and intriguing is his use of a structure which reflects the message and the “perseverance” especially the poem “two guns in the sky for Daniel Harris” where the two-line stanzas emphasise the actions and look like bullets on the page. The poem is based on a real event where a deaf man was shot for “waving his hands” which looked like he was about to pull out a gun according to the officer when in reality he was attempting to use sign to communicate with the officers. Raymond Antrobus’s detail and links to current political movements like Black Lives Matter makes the poem even more engaging.

Unlike lots of old fashioned poems taught at schools, Raymond Antrobus creates poems which explore current events and issues which are often forgotten about whilst exploring his own struggles. “The perseverance” is definitely a must-read for anyone looking for an easy and enjoyable read.