Brown-grey bottom half; top half bearing a surreal tube map motif with curly wiresAdventures in Racial Capitalism, Kev Inn

Waterloo Press, 2020     £8.00

Power in play

Kev Inn’s Adventures in Racial Capitalism is, as its title suggests, serious work. But — as ‘Adventures’ perhaps preludes — it’s also got plenty of playful moments. So, ‘Job app Part I’ begins ‘I’m about to waste a beautiful sunny day, / that I’ll never get back, on a job app’. It quickly gets to the meat of the pamphlet:

I’m about to waste a cloudless end-of-summer day,
            on a job app, which’ll leave me wondering is it ‘cause I’m black?

It’s a memorable piece. Following this, though, appears ‘Job app Remix’ — startling and so playful, bringing that sunshine, that burns through the wasted day, onto the page. The poem is itself laid out like a child’s drawing of the sun — each line splintering off like a sunbeam. It looks great — and spotting this new line made me laugh: ‘Job app. Fuck that. / I’m going for a walk.’

Playfulness and seriousness — ‘It takes a village to ra(cial)ise a child’ (‘It takes a village…’) — run alongside each other throughout this work. Together, I think they give it its power. Here’s ‘A one-word poem, after Afua Hirsch’ (who in 2017, Wikipedia reports, questioned the place in today’s world of Nelson’s Column):

Bl ghty

Or there’s a lovely poem as an underground train trundles towards a lover:

Click-clack, train-track,
Dum-dum, heart-drum,
                                                          O-val, Stock-well, Brix-ton,
                                                          O-val, Stock-well, Brix-ton

The poem titled ‘On being given an insecurity I didn’t have / to try and sell me something I didn’t need’. I’ve never seen anything like the bending, contorted layout on the page of its opening, which winds round, reading: ‘She extended her gnarLed olive branch of capitalism, / And I accepted’.

The final piece in the collection is called ‘Inglan/Belonging’, subtitled ‘The Windrush Scandal through insta-poetry’. Here it is in its (insta) entirety:

Been long in,
but still don’t
  belong in

Humour does so much. For me, the irreverence of these moments lifts the work, and makes it more searing.

Charlotte Gann