Roy McFarlane (British Working Class Poetry)

Roy McFarlane was born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage and has spent most of his years living in Wolverhampton. He has held the roles of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate,  Starbucks’ Poet in Residence, and the Birmingham & Midland Institute’s Poet in Residence. Roy’s writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), Filigree (Peepal Tree,  2018) and he is the editor of Celebrate Wha? Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands (Smokestack, 2011). His first full collection of poems, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was published in 2016, followed by The Healing Next Time in 2018, both published by Nine Arches Press. He is the 2022 Canal Laureate.



Haibun for The Fields


My wonderland, my place of adventures, green domain hidden behind terraced houses on one side and the local factory on the other side, steel stockholders warning us not to enter with steel meshed fencing, barbed wire and the sound of unearthly machines carrying heavy loads. There in that space, a land would magic into existence in the evening, weekends and summer holidays. Teenagers seeped in from alleys, broken fences, back gardens and side roads. A space where all people of colour came to play, boys in the centre and girls at the edge of our desires. There we bruised, tussled, kicked the ball, knocked the ball in the height of summer – tall trees at the edge would rustle in the lightest of breeze – only to be interrupted by catch it followed by a chorus, he dropped it! There the smell of corned beef and fried dumpling from home enticed you but you hold on to the evening wrestling the dusk on the border. Young girls would join in, holding you just a little while longer, the shared lick of an ice cream, chocolate flakes dipped in vanilla white. Mother’s calling you from the backyard with dusk still held at arm’s length you’d risk that last taste, the forbidden bite before your father’s voice boomed like steel rods dropping on concrete floor, causing the domain to disappear, folding before your very eyes; legs running, running…


We longed for the dirt

our friend; the soil our comfort,

we the children of The Fields.

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