Ludbrooke and Others
A sixty-poem sequence brings a new departure in Alan Brownjohn’s poetry. ‘Ludbrooke’ is a rueful, proud, somewhat devious figure who negotiates the hurdles and snares of an older man’s life with – or so he likes to think – a combination of principle, aplomb, dexterity and romantic flair. Yet his successes are few and modest, and his strategies suggest an alter ego which his creator is obliged to disown.
Ludbrooke has been linked by some with the appearance in earlier poems of a character called ‘The Old Fox’. But Ludbrooke behaves as if he is younger in spirit, more agile and varied in his activities. These 13-line poems – described by the poet Peter Reading as ‘sonnets for the unlucky’ – broadly cover three years of Ludbrooke’s day-to-day life in multicultural 21st-century Britain: a batch of near-love affairs, worries about the figure he cuts among friends, battles with work and alcohol – but finally a determination never to give up.
The ‘Others’ in Brownjohn’s remarkable new volume – other poems rather than personalities – address a characteristically wide range of subjects: love, disquieting memories, features of a post-industrial world given an edge of slightly surreal fantasy. Some are intensely personal, others look outwards with the alert eye he has always brought to his poems of social observation. Everything in Ludbrooke and Others is achieved with craft and elegance, and in the distinctive voice which makes every poem by this poet instantly recognizable and enjoyable.
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