Date: 4th October 2018
Extent: 80 pp
BIC Code: DCF
A Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Hate was easy, loving was hard, hate lay down
like a rotten fruit but loving needs to be nurtured.
Roy McFarlane’s second poetry collection, The Healing Next Time, is a timely and unparalleled book of interwoven sequences on institutional racism, deaths in custody and of a life story set against the ever-changing backdrop of Birmingham at the turn of the millennium. Here forms a potent and resolute narrative in lyrical and multidimensional poems which refuse to look the other way or accept the whitewashed version of events.
Courageous, rageful and mournful, these are poems of Black history and Black presence, poems of witness and poems of activism. McFarlane’s intricate lines make record of injustice and mark the names of those who have lost their lives and dignity to prejudice and hatred. The Healing Next Time also asks vital questions of the future, and of the reader – and reminds us where the power to change things lies. It is also a poetry of personal discovery, of revelation and resilience – where the influence of Jazz and of James Baldwin infuse and shape this unique, remarkable book.
'Claudia Rankine's 'Citizen' contains the following key exchange from a visit to the UK: “Will you write about Duggan? The man wants to know. Why don't you?” Few rose to this challenge but Roy McFarlane's distinguished new collection The Healing Next Time takes on a whole history of official abuse and killing here with powerful and technically various poetry. McFarlane traces our hostile environment for new citizens, particularly those of colour, into some ugly corners, but it is a book of great love too, even when he’s dancing with ghosts, as he does here in a wonderful poem of that name. I cannot recommend The Healing Next Time enough.' — Ian Duhig
'The American poet Claudia Rankine has written: ‘poetry has no investment in anything besides openness. It's notarguing a point. It's creating an environment.’ Rankine is one of the presiding spirits of Roy McFarlane’s second collection, The Healing Next Time. The environment he creates is one where the lyric thrives, but in audacious and bold forms crucial for a new brand of poetry. McFarlane’s poems celebrate who he is and where he’s from, never forgetting the sorrow and anger that accompanies what it means to be black and British today. Most powerful is a sequence of modern sonnets that track the terrible roll call of wrongful deaths in custody – moving and graceful memorials to ordinary men and women. His ‘openness’, to quote Rankine, comes from his honesty, his love for humanity and his outrage at injustice – this is an essential book for our times.' — Tamar Yoseloff
“The narrative to each piece, as of the entire collection, is serendipitous. The poetry is in the mix. The work is organised in three subject sections. In the first, the works read like hardly-disguised extracts from the diaries of the poet’s ‘activist / family man / lover’ muse. In the second, the works are labours of lament – testaments taken raw from research in the archives on Black British deaths in police custody. In the third, Solomonic songs expose Roy McFarlane’s Rasta spirit – with the imperative ‘Write that down. Don’t think, just write.’ – Colin Prescod, Chair of the Institute of Race Relations
Roy McFarlane was born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage and has spent most of his years living in Wolverhampton. He has held the role of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and Starbucks’ Poet in Residence, and is presently the Birmingham & Midland Institute’s Poet in Residence. Roy’s writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), Filigree (Peepal Tree, 2018) and he is the editor of Celebrate Wha? Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands (Smokestack, 2011). His first full collection of poems, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.
This debut collection of poems by former Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane explores love, loss, adoption and identity in powerful, precise and emotionally-charged poetry. From bereavement comes forth a life story in poems; the journey of sons, friends, lovers and parents, and all the moments of growing-up, discovery, falling in and out of love and learning to say goodbye that come along the way.