Red Flags in the Smokestacks: Smokestack's book-club

In 2023 Smokestack Books is publishing 12 new titles, including translations from Arabic and Russian, and books by Michael Rosen, Fred Voss, Jeremy Robson, Clive Branson, Montagu Slater, Bob Beagrie and Alison Carr.

Members of Smokestack’s book-club enjoy big discounts on all Smokestack’s new titles. Just choose the books you want from this year’s catalogue (or from Smokestack’s extensive back-list), e-mail your choices to info@smokestack-books.co.uk and they will be sent to you post-free as soon as they are published.

£40 annual UK subscription: you receive 6 books a year.
£60 annual UK subscription: you receive 12 books a year.

£50 overseas subscription: you receive 6 books a year.
£70 overseas subscription: you receive 12 books a year.

To join Smokestack's book-club contact:
e-mail: info@smokestack-books.co.uk,
tel: 01765 658917
1 Lake Terrace, Grewelthorpe, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4

Smokestack Book Club Titles 2023

Tawfiq Zayyad, We Are Here to Stay

Published to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, a selection of poems by the Palestinian poet Tawfiq Zayyad (1929-1994), a Communist member of the Knesset and the elected mayor of Nazareth. Combining traditional Arabic verse-forms and free-verse, We Are Here to Stay includes some of his best-known poems about the Nakba, about life under military occupation, discrimination, imprisonment and land-seizures, as well as poems about family and love. Bilingual English-Arab edition. Edited and translated by Aida Bamia.

1 January. £9.99. ISBN: 9781739772260

Julia Nemirovskaya (ed), Disbelief: 100 Russian Anti-War Poems

100 Russian poets, including Polina Barskova, Tatiana Voltskaya, Misha Aizenberg, Vladimir Druk and Tatiana Shcherbina, express their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine and a shared sense of incredulity at a war in the heart of twenty-first century Europe that has left millions displaced and tens of thousands dead or imprisoned, triggered an international economic crisis, turned Russia into a pariah state and the Russian language into a tool of cultural erasure and oppression. Bilingual Russian-English.

1 January. £9.99. ISBN: 9781739772277

Fred Voss, Someday There Will Be Machine Shops Full of Roses

Fred Voss looks back on fifty years of working on machine-shop floors up and down the West Coast – the noise and the silence, long shifts and short tempers, old-timers and pushy young machinists, profits in the boardrooms and wage-cuts on the cold shop-floor, the bravado, the boredom and the comradeship. These new poems confirm Voss as the heir to Charles Bukowski, Philip Levine and Robert Tressell, beautiful hymns of praise to skilled workers everywhere who handle the dangerous Promethean gift of fire.

1 March. £8.99. ISBN: 9781739772284

Michael Rosen, The Advantages of Nearly Dying

Following his best-selling COVID memoir Many Different Kinds of Love, Michael Rosen’s new collection for grown-ups records his slow and painful recovery from the disease. He also shares his thoughts about the politics of the pandemic – the ‘crazed incompetence’ of the Tory government and the war against the ‘Oldies’ that led to over 200,000 dead in the UK. Unforgiving, whimsical, grim, warm, philosophical and comical, it’s book about hospital appointments, blood-tests, brain-scans, eye-tests – and a song of praise for the NHS.

1 March. £8.99. ISBN 9781739772291

Jeremy Robson, Chagall’s Moon

Robson’s fourth collection in nine years, reflecting the world in which we find ourselves, where rockets rain nightly on Ukrainian cities, refugees drown in the channel, and post-Brexit chaos reigns. Chagall’s Moon movingly creates a world of love and loss, identity and laughter, dreams and nightmares, where Beethoven and Picasso rub shoulders with Billie Holiday, Chagall’s lovers still fly in a cloudless sky, the ghosts and horrors of recent Jewish history are never far away, friendship and childhood memories still stir, and love presides.

1 April. £7.99. ISBN 9781739173043

The Selected Poems of Clive Branson

Brings together, for the first time, the best of the surviving poems of the Communist artist and International Brigader Clive Branson (1907–1944). Passionate and committed, it’s a first-hand account of the most violent years of the twentieth-century – Britain in the Slump, Spain during the civil-war, Fascist prisons, the London Blitz, the cultural shock of India and its poverty, to the war against Japan in Burma (where was killed in action) recorded with a painterly eye and a communist faith in the power of the people.

1 May. £8.99. ISBN 9781739173005

The Collected Poems of Montagu Slater

The Collected Poems of novelist, playwright, journalist and scriptwriter Montagu Slater (1902–1956), editor of Left Review and Theatre Today and scriptwriter at the GPO Film Unit (where he wrote the influential Coal Face with WH Auden). Includes Slater’s libretto for Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes (1945), extracts from his verse plays Easter 1916 and Stay Down Miner, poems published in magazines and newspapers, and as well as previously unpublished poems. Edited by Ben Harker.

1 May. £8.99. ISBN 9781739173012

Michael Stewart, The Dogs

A book about what humans have done to the world and what we have done to ourselves. Specifically, it is a book about ‘Man’s best friends’ – their origin-myths, and their place in the world before they were co-opted into human society and ideas of pure breeding and dysgenics. The Dogs also imagines a future where dogs develop the power of speech; led by the non-violent UnderDogs and the more radical Der Uberhünd, the animals of the world begin demanding their rights.

1 July. £7.99. ISBN 9781739173029

Alison Carr, Black Bullets in the Sweet Jar

Durham writer Alison Carr looks back to the childhood she lost when she was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver when she was eight years-old. Written with a beautiful melancholy, the poems are constructed around iterative images of lost childhood pleasures, of falling apples and seasonal change, connecting personal feelings of loss with larger narratives of the Fall – mythical, anthropological and economic.

1 July. £6.99. ISBN 9781739173036

Karl Riordan, Tinikling

Over the past five years Karl Riordan and his Filipino wife, Jeni, have been forced to live thousands of miles apart by the UK government that expects him to raise £22k to ‘sponsor’ her. Taking its title from a traditional Philippine folk dance, Tinikling choreographs a complicated dance between love, racism and bureaucracy. It's a book about love, geography and learning to pick your way through the hurdles and traps of a relationship while navigating the ‘hostile environment’ of the UK immigration system.  

1 September. £7.99. ISBN 9781739173050

Jim Greenhalf, Cromwell’s Head

AIn 1661 Charles II ordered Oliver Cromwell’s corpse to be exhumed and decapitated. The head was displayed for over twenty years on the roof of Westminster Hall as a warning to republicans everywhere. Cromwell’s Head looks at history through the eyes of Britain’s first and only republican leader, telling the story of a ‘headless people’ forced to march to the top of the hill and marched back down again – Flodden, Bannockburn, Culloden, Iraq, Afghanistan, the violent end of empire, black shirts on the march again, the coronation of Charles III. Grimly comic and comically grim, a natural sequel to Jim Greenhalf’s previous Smokestack collections Breakfast at Wetherspoons and Dummy!

1 September. £7.99. ISBN 9781739173074

Bob Beagrie, Eftwyrd

An epic poem set in seventh-century Northumbria on the eve of the Synod of Whitby. Brother Oswin (who first appeared in Beagrie’s Leásungspell) travels to Streanæshealh across a wild landscape steeped in magic and folklore. There he is shunned as a boggart, elf-king, merman and the cursed puck responsible for spreading the pandemic that rages through the kingdom. Meanwhile the politics of faith, fealty, liberty and power play out through the lives of the people he encounters. Written in a hybrid of Old English and Northern vernaculars, the book conjures a sense of place that runs deep into the collective imagination. 

1 November. £8.99. ISBN 9781739173067