Martin Grey’s ‘The Pretty Boys of Gangster Town’ has a unique and emotional stance on the separation of identity and unity. This book explores oneself in relation to others. A non-insular exploration of self-identity. Tearing up this divide with his reoccurring theme of connection.

Even stood with a cup of tea in hand, Martin Grey rejects the idea of nationalism with his poems. This book asks us to embraces ourselves, our needs, and our own identities without letting these defining traits brick us off from those who are different.

We see class, age, nationality, circumstance and even the line between life and death worked through in this book. Honouring the enormous meaning that can be found in one moment, one shared memory or one helping hand. Spiting the labels set to divide us. Imploring us, the reader, to stop patrolling our differences like boundaries on a map. Encouraging us to seek out our shared collective heart. Because these moments do not just last a few minutes, but a lifetime. Potentially lifetimes, as the stories we gather along the way we pass down to the next generation. Martin Grey’s poems show the power one person can have. Both in a positive and negative light, with the hope that we choose to better the world.

We can be all that we are without neglecting those who are different. It’s not without struggle, as seen in his poem ‘Bones’. It’s not easy, breaking down walls that have stood for generations, but we must. For the sake of us all.

This poetry book celebrates the little things, the connection you can find amongst strangers and additionally one man’s love of tea and biscuits!

Buy The Pretty Boys of Gangster Town from Five Leaves Bookshop online here.

Photo credit: Emily Sanderson.