Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 The Actual is a symphony of personal and political fury-sometimes probing delicately, sometimes burning with raw energy. In 55 poems that swerve and crackle with a rare music, Inua Ellams unleashes a full-throated assault on empire and its legacies of racism, injustice and toxic masculinity.
Written on the author's phone, in transit, between meetings, before falling asleep and just after waking, this is poetry as polemic, as an act of resistance, but also as dream-vision. At its heart, this book confronts the absolutism and 'foolish machismo' of hero culture-from Perseus to Trump, from Batman to Boko Haram. Through the thick gauze of history, these breathtaking poems look the world square in the face and ask, "What the actual-?".
'This is what poetry looks like when you have nothing to lose, when you speak from the heart, when you have spent years honing your craft so that you can be free. This is what poetry looks like when you are a word sorcerer, a linguistic swordsman, a metaphor-dazzler, a passionate creator of poetry as fire, as lament, as beauty, as reflection, as argument, as home. I was blown away by this book'- Bernardine Evaristo
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