, adult-books-read, of-poems, poetry, poetry, non-fiction, christmas-list, netgalley, poetry, 2020, Poetry, Nonfiction, Contemporary, Race, Culture, European Literature


Chosen as a Book of the Year by New Statesman, Financial Times, Guardian, Observer, Rough Trade and the BBC

Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize
Longlisted for the Jhalak Prize

'Restlessly inventive, brutally graceful, startlingly beautiful ... a landmark debut' Guardian
'Oh my God, he's just stirring me. Destroying me' Michaela Coel
'A poet of truth and rage, heartbreak and joy' Max Porter
'Takes us into new literary territory ... impressive' Bernardine Evaristo, New Statesman (Books of the Year)
'It's simply stunning. Every image is a revelation' Terrance Hayes

What is it like to grow up in a place where the same police officer who told your primary school class they were special stops and searches you at 13 because 'you fit the description of a man' - and where it is possible to walk two and a half miles through an estate of 1,444 homes without ever touching the ground?

In Poor, Caleb Femi combines poetry and original photography to explore the trials, tribulations, dreams and joys of young Black boys in twenty-first century Peckham. He contemplates the ways in which they are informed by the built environment of concrete walls and gentrifying neighbourhoods that form their stage, writes a coded, near-mythical history of the personalities and sagas of his South London youth, and pays tribute to the rappers and artists who spoke to their lives.

Above all, this is a tribute to the world that shaped a poet, and to the people forging difficult lives and finding magic within it. As Femi writes in one of the final poems of this book: 'I have never loved anything the way I love the endz.'

Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    Poor Reviews

  • Emily B

    The poetry in this collection is raw and powerful, authentic and real. Caleb Femi takes you all the way into his world I could tell a lot of thought and considered was put into it, with the photograph...

  • Mark Bailey

    'When hipsters take selfies On the corners where our Friends died, the rent goes up'A collation of disquieting poetry and stark photography combine to produce some of the rawest and authentic material...

  • Dannii Elle

    This incredibly poignant and powerful collation of poems and photographs focuses on the black experience for those residing in 21st Century Peckham. Violence and grief mark these pages and Femi's pros...

  • Liam

    Video ReviewThis review is a case of tough love (see * at the end of the review), but I think I am being fair. The issues here, for me, are those typical of a young debut author — inconsistency. Jus...

  • Lou (nonfiction fiend)

    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 ...

  • morgan

    best poetry collection I've read this year...

  • Holly Mahoney

    This is utterly phenomenal. It blew my mind. ...

  • Areeb Ahmad (Bankrupt_Bookworm)

    "concrete is the lining of the wombthat holds boys with their motherswhen Edvin took a blade to the gut –bled out like a stream running back to its Brook –concrete held him soft as a meadow might ...

  • Fern Adams

    A powerful book of poetry. Words matter and have an amazing ability to show us things, evoke emotion and point out the world around us, something Femi does with skill in this collection. ...

  • T

    "You can't say CRACK hereYou'll f- up the house prices What you say is craquè" (122)A pretty good debut from Femi here. This isn't the type of book that I would typically pick up, but being somebody ...