Court is where you go when you get caught. It's a temple of justice, a tragic theatre, a circus, a long-running soap and a revolving door. Victoria Bean spent a year in Horseferry Road Magistrate's Court, recording in verse the high-drama and low-comedy of the English justice system. Caught is a wholly unique take on everyday life in a busy courtroom and its cast of thieves, drunks, kerb-crawlers and dealers who come before the bench each day in despair, bewilderment and indifference. All human life is here - the strong and the weak, the hopeless and hapless, the users and losers, the innocent and the guilty, the banged-up and the free.
The palette of this court is grass stain green menthol green sixties green & glass edge green.
Is that the jangle of jailer's keys or handcuffs on the man who nicked the bottle of wine from an Iceland down the road?
Stand up please. We can't send you to jail just because you're hungry and it's cold outside, however, you will stay in custody until you've had your lunch.
The judge says you can't go on owing this sum for the rest of your life. When did you last work? '95' she says in a whisper. She's even lost her voice.
Tall, tangles and a cough. Pretty once, still only eighteen, is anyone looking after you? You need somewhere to stay I sentence you to seven days of food and sleep.
I am off the drugs oh yes, I am off the drugs.
He says I wish to say a few things. The judge says it's usually unwise.
Beautiful boy cheekbones sculpted by sweet pink crystals still dissolving the plump padding of his youth. He uses car stereos as currency but wants a second chance for the last time, for the hundredth time.
He's just been released today, yes, today, he says into his mobile phone in the public gallery, and he's in court again today, yes, today, he says before asking his friend if he's got any methadone.
Matted hair slipping tracksuit; itchy blood. Diamorphine diamond they're not going to punish you today.
Muie and Mosh in the public gallery with their post code surnames gouged and scrawled in vandals' Braille a universal hand writes we were here, we were here, we were here. and names get carved in sharp angled letters because cursive font is tricky where the wood grain won't give.
'Incisive, witty, compassionate and captivating, Victoria Bean's poems are short, sharp shocks that capture the human face of crime and punishment in London's courts. A gem'
'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. This is a first collection that will still be read long after the first offences have blown over.'
'This is a remarkable book, breathtaking in its artistry and its clarity.'
'an unusual and entertaining collection.'