- Author: Jay Bernard (1988)
- Title: Surge (31 short poems)
- Published: 2019
- List of Challenges 2021
- Monthly plan
- #PoetryMonth (April 2021)
- For those readers of Jay Bernard’s debut Surge who are
- not familiar with the historical event to which it responds,
- there is a carefully detailed author’s foreword.
- On 18 January 1981, 13 black teenagers were killed in a
- house fire that engulfed a birthday party at in south-east London.
- Although the New Cross Fire is still in living memory,
- Jay Bernard is seeking to introduce it to a new generation
- …to make history live and remind readers these are both statistics and people.
- I haven’t even opened the book but I feel this will be an emotional journey.
- This time I’m reading the book while listening to the audio book.
- I will just let Bernard’s words wash over me.
- Each poem has a different voice…a gathering of people.
- Parallels are drawn between the New Cross Fire 1981 and Grenfell
- the tower block fire in 2017 where the official death toll was 72.
- Surge” tells a story of the past and present
- …showing how lessons have not been learnt.
Last thoughts: 5 poems that focus on the aftermath….haunting.
- Harbour: a ghost child going over the events in the fire…telling friends
- to save themselves: “I said, I called – jump”
- Clearing: The speaker is a victim of the fire and describes
- how the body is placed in body bag.
- “+” The mother of a victim is informed they have a yellow shirt
- …the mother says: “…this must be our son.”
- “-” The voice is of the victim lying dead on a morgue table
- about to be identified “You came, dad –“
- Kitchen: The voice of a victim returns to her home
- ….loving she describes the kitchen
- “I have held this house in my arms
- …and let it sob on the bathroom floor.”