Cover Image: Poor

Poor

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Member Reviews

Beautiful, powerful, and poignant. I could spend all day delving into how much I enjoyed this poetry but I do not think I would be doing it the sheer justice it deserves! Reading through 'Poor' has been a true eye-opener for me regarding the struggles faced by Black communities, and I would go as far as classing it as essential reading for all.
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BEAUTIFUL. 

A must read, please put this into the curriculum!

It’s time we open up our ignorant ears to the voices of those marginalised and realise WE need change. 

Thank you for writing this!
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Caleb Femi grew up on the North Peckham estate and this collection of poems is about his experience of being poor, Black and in South London. It is a stunning collection of poems about his life and experiences, particularly powerful and moving are the one about being stopped by Police at aged 13 and about the estate where you can walk for miles without being on the street. The poems are interspersed with photos which add to the experience. An important new poetic voice. 

With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a review.
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There is so much heartfelt lyricism in Caleb Femi's poems, so much beauty in the descriptions of this place that gave so little of it, but what little beauty it gave feels extra-ordinary, literally. Femi's photographs are a perfect counterpart to his words, raw and stunning for all their day-to-day character. A voice that still resonates in the reader's mind long after the last page has been turned.
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Absolutely fabulous book, fabulous talent, fabulous guy. We love everything about this nook and have sold loads of them and still going strong. So great to see it listed for Rathbonrs prize too. Peckham Power!!
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I cannot put into words how excited I was to be approved for Poor on Netgalley. It’s rare that I find a poetry collection that really interests me. Most poetry, to me, is bland, and says nothing in a lot of words. 

But this – this is my type of poetry. 

Caleb Femi grew up on the North Peckham estate in South London. In Poor he writes about his neighbourhood, and what it was like growing up as a poor black boy on a council estate. He doesn’t push any particular political message, but relates his experiences. He leaves the reader to decide what’s right and wrong. 

The poems are short – none are more than a page and a half. Which is also something I love about the collection. My attention wanders when poems go on too long. Femi says what he needs to say then moves on. 

His language is elegant. There are some phrases where the words almost melt into one another, the rhythm and control absolutely perfect. It’s not easy to pull off the perfect internal rhyme, but Femi manages it in most of the poems in Poor. 

I liked the combination of poetry and photography as well. The images add a sense of realism to the words, a grounding effect that reminds you these people and these places exist. This world, where boys are stopped by the police because of the colour of their skin, is real. 

Femi discusses violence quite frequently in his poems. There are a lot of references to death, to stabbing and guns. But this is his world. I don’t live in London, and never have, but I can extrapolate from my own experiences of council estates to believe that this is very real for those caught in the violence of the streets. 

This is poetry that should be taught in schools. While poetry will never be for everyone, I think poetry like this stands a chance of making the form more accessible to kids (like myself) who perhaps see poetry as the preserve of the literature snob and the elite. 

It’s not. It can talk about relatable experiences for young working class people. Caleb Femi proves that. 

I loved it, so I’ll be buying a finished copy.
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A very strong collection of poetry - accompanied by the author's own photography - focusing on the lives and experiences of the young residents of a Peckham estate. 

The word "raw" springs to mind when describing Femi's poetry, but using this word belies the beauty and skill in his writing. Poetry can be quite subjective, but I'd venture that many readers would find Poor to be moving, insightful and accessible.

(If this sounds of interest I'd also recommend searching out videos of Femi performing his work -- well worth a watch.)
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A power and authentic collection of poetry and visuals. This is a very authentic collection of work that is emotional and raw. Caleb Femi is a very talented writer and with this a a debut I can’t wait to see what future work comes out from this writer, 
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a cope in exchange for an honest review,
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It’s been a while since I read such a brilliant collection of poetry. And don’t get me started on the photos in the collection because Caleb Femi is a fantastic photographer. Caleb grew up in Peckham and with his poetry explores estate life as a young black man. Some of the poems are brutal and others tender, rage and joy right next to each other. So many favourites but let me just highlight the Concrete poems, I like themes in poetry that are picked up again and again and different angles played with. Also, Things I have stolen gave me a lump in my throat. Highly recommend this. Go forth and buy it.
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A book of poetry and photography detailing life in Peckham – a council estate in London – as a poor Black boy, Poor is one of the more evocative and haunting (-ly beautiful) reads of 2020.

This is a soul, or in some cases: multiple souls, laid bare in poetic form. Femi is an outstanding talent and his Poor is a not-to-be-missed read. A reviewer could all too easily fall into the trap of calling this collection ‘timely’ when it is in fact timeless. London dialects blend into classical lines as if the narrative voice has one foot in London and one in the midst of the Muses.

There are moments throughout that hit you with full force; the book certainly stays with you after completion. ‘Trauma is a Warm Bath’ is the piece that hit me the hardest, and I’m sure readers will have their own one that follows them around for a while after. Soft and caressing at parts, angry and demanding at others: there is a perfect balance here of emotion and issue. The imagery is so visceral – and the writing so powerful – that you can feel yourself there, hovering over tragedy and concrete. I don’t have a single critique.

Final Thoughts:

I wholeheartedly recommend Poor and will keep an eye out for Femi’s next work.
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This book, this set of poems was moving, you could feel the emotions in the words, the rawness just came through, unlike a lot of poetry I’ve read lately, this was really emotive. Emotional reading, hard at times and there were definitely tears from me, these poems show the poets wealth of like experience, although that’s not probably the best wording for this. Truly powerful words

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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3.5

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me this Arc in exchange for a honest review... 

Wow. You can really feel the emotions dripping of the page! To not only see the words of his life and but to see it through his eyes from the photographs as well was a beautiful touch!
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Poor is a collection of both poetry and imagery exploring what life was like growing up as a black boy on a council estate in Peckham, South London. The gorgeous prose is filled with raw and powerful emotion and it couldn't be more timely or necessary. Femi pours all of his feelings and emotions into his words and touches on themes of class, race, wealth, gentrification, family and abject poverty and really doesn't hold back. 

The collection as a whole is incredibly impactful as it is written straight from the heart. His use of language is simply sublime and kept me engaged throughout. If this is his debut then I can't wait to see what he publishes next. With a potent mix of wit, heartbreak, anger, despair and brutal honesty, Caleb invites us to step into his world and see things from his perspective. Superb. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Penguin for an ARC.
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Hey Caleb,
I loved your poems. I can see how you've poured your emotions and how much you have gone through. I can imagine what it feels like to be in your place. Yes your poems made me cry at times and I am going to give them a small part in my heart that I am going to carry always.
Most of the poems are relatable. I am giving four stars because there were a few poems I couldn't relate to.
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Really interesting and powerful stuff - set not a million miles away, geographically, but almost entirely different otherwise. Great use of language and phrasing, made a real impact.
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Collection of poetry and photography covering life on a Peckham council estate, and the experience of growing up poor and hungry in almost doomed surroundings drawing upon notions of class, race and the constant gentrification of the area - the emotional toll of feeling trapped in the same place where several of your friends have either died or been arrested whilst the white middle class see the same spaces in a completely different manner.  Femi has some excellent uses of language, bringing in frequent allusions to culture and there's an energy and emotion to the work that's quite rare.  I'd love to give it a higher rating, but found the work overlong and became diminishing returns - the opening 50 pages or so were revelatory, but the rest of the book was a struggle.  Certainly a writer to watch though.
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I loved this book ,  i struggled with the format of which it could be accessed however which did impact my overall reading experience.
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Poor is a unique piece of work, in which Caleb Femi combines poetry and photography to explore the everyday of young Black boys in London's district Peckham. ⁠
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He considers the impact of the environment made of concrete walls and gentrifying neighbourhoods (typical of the ever-shifting metropolis) on them, and writes a unique history of the personalities that make the South London black youth, not forgetting to pay tribute to the rappers and artists that were important to them while growing up. ⁠
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In a way, this book is the poet's coming-of-age, paying tribute to the people from his surroundings that lead difficult lives. ⁠
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As a language professional, I especially enjoyed reading the vernacular used in the poems and this, alongside playing with different formats, speaks to Caleb Femi's particular talent. ⁠
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Some of the poems are difficult to penetrate, written in a coded language; others are more accessible, but all of them serve as a testament to a neighbourhood-worth generation of boys in all of its specificity. ⁠
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Poor is a debut poetry collection like no other. I not only enjoyed it, but learned a lot in the process. ⁠
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Thanks to Penguin Press ⁠and NetGalley for the gifted copy. Poor is out on 5th of November. ⁠

#Poor #PenguinPress #CalebFemi #NetGalley
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I love Femi's work. It's stunning and every word Mark's its brilliance. The book is quite intriguing and keeps the engage. I am happy to have received this gorgeous book for review
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Poor is a collection of poetry and photography exploring a Peckham estate and what it is like to grow up as Black boy surrounded by concrete. It is a powerful, fast-paced collection split into sections and broken up with photographs taken by Femi to illustrate the estate and the people found throughout the poems.

So many of the poems have really memorable lines and turns of phrase, witty and cutting deep to the truth of reality on topics like class, race, and gentrification. The ongoing theme of the impact of concrete and the design of estates is really interesting, whether in found poetry or through a clever look at the make up of concrete. 

Reading Poor, you get a real sense of the importance of the world you grow up in, the good, the bad, and the mythologising. It is a brilliantly written collection that feels immediate and emotional and explores how where you live can live and breathe too.
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