Victoria Bean's second collection is about trouble – those who cause it, those who are looking for it, and those who have found it. It’s a social document and a forensic study of a criminal justice system where the action always seems to take place out of the corner of your eye. It’s a portrait in verse of the modern city from Gin Lane to Smack City, drawing on the found-poetry of graffiti, tattoos, court-statements and London phone-box ‘tart-cards’. Liberties is a book about the nameless, the blameless and the shameless, about needs and wants, desperate truths and unbelievable lies, about the good, the bad and the fine line we all walk between them; about liberties taken and liberties lost.
Cover image: Victoria Bean
Some comments about Caught:
‘a canny eye for clear, needling imagery and evocative description... a humbling and poignant collection, and that rare thing: poetry of witness, poetry as social document.’
‘Victoria Bean's poetry fuses the fact of the misdone act with the conviction of the spoken word, showing us that it's not what actually happens that counts but how we re-imagine our lives in a language of our own. ’
‘a humane and imaginative glimpse into a world most of us never have anything to do with.’
Mistress Quickly’s Bed
Hangover heavy he sags into the chair snarls answers to questions they haven’t yet asked: yes, no yes, yes no yes, no and no comment quite possibly and quite possibly not.
Now they’re with the forensic team the boy’s shoes will tell them more than he’s been willing to. His young hands too; swabbed with sterile water and a maternal lightness as the cotton tip alights on his palm then strokes the back of his hand to bring any trace of the other boy back to life.
What a noise she makes, what a need for attention not even her constant calls to the emergency services can relieve. When they mention her previous she laughs. I’m a walking crime wave she says at the sudden recognition.
his own language today, but he’s in a familiar place where nothing feels like home everything feels like nothing Are you alright? A little while later he shakes his head no.
The man who’s done twenty years has a blur of blue love on his knuckles and wants to go straight and talks and talks and falters only when he recalls his girlfriend going with his two best friends; he catches his breath blinks back familiar tears and tries to banish the dissolute image we can all picture now. His salt water story falls a sad slow rain but he won’t accept a tissue.
She has a cough; a Shirley Bassey tobacco hack and little else – except the bags under her eyes which droop in pretty perfect semi-circles on sleepless sunken skin.
He wears someone else’s story; a Leavers Class hoody: 2009 sixty names he’s never met wet from the rain they’ll give him a sweatshirt – overcast grey – which he can keep, call his own.
‘humanizes and brings into focus a group usually invisible and unheard.’
Mistress Quickly’s Bed
‘studiously crafted miniatures, which exist for us almost as windows in a rotting corpse.’
‘her style is plain and ostensibly simple… but her skill is in her eye for appropriate characters in appropriate contexts. Bean’s is the poetry of the apposite moment.’