This substantial collection showcases Jones’s range and talent admirably. It reminded me of why I fell in love with poetry, and kept the faith.
Pam Thompson on Skin (reviewed in The North 55)
Skin is the second full-length poetry collection by Chris Jones. A beautifully produced 96-page hardback book, it is available from Longbarrow Press for £12.99. You can order the book securely by clicking on the relevant PayPal button above.
Skin reflects on the ties that bind us, taking in the complex layering of human relationships and the cells and tissues of the body itself.
The poems consider the role of the individual within the home and the institution, frequently returning to the idea of two men talking, debating, or arguing with each other. In ‘Sentences’, the hierarchies embedded in prison culture leave both men feeling the pressure of their marginal status. In the Reformation-era sequence ‘Death and the Gallant’, the two protagonists use the biblical paintings and religious objects that they have set out to destroy to conduct a guarded, then more overt, theological debate. The book offers counterpoints to these homosocial power relationships in its depiction of nurturing, loving behaviour in the sequences ‘Miniatures’ and ‘Jigs and Reels’, which reflect on family connections and fatherhood. Skin also affirms the creative collaborations that link poets to artists and musicians, and extends this dialogue through its patterns of sound and image.
Skin is a book of bonds, reaching back, reaching out; a sensory exploration of the world we inhabit and try to make sense of.
Rhyme all the ways a city battens down.
Say, river waters tide the roads to town.
Little Piece of Harm, a new collection of poems, was published as a 40-page pamphlet by Longbarrow Press in March 2021. Devised as a narrative sequence, it focuses on 24 hours in the life of a city that has been shut down in the aftermath of a shooting. As this act of violence ramifies outwards, the sequence explores the geographical reach of Sheffield – its urban settings and its rural landmarks – and eavesdrops on the city’s conversations.
Chris Jones’s publications include his debut collection The Safe House (Shoestring Press, 2007), several pamphlets, and collaborations with visual artists. Skin is his second full collection, and his first with Longbarrow Press.
Chris Jones received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry in 1996. From 1997 to 1999 he worked as a writer-in-residence at Nottingham Prison. He was the Literature Officer for Leicestershire for five years and then worked as a freelance writer and poetry festival organiser. He currently teaches creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University. Click here to visit his website.
Photo credit: Angelina D’Roza