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THE ISM PRISON

Paul Tanner

''Whatever Lefty platform he does it from, the rebel ultimately fights for his individuality ... Thus, the rebel is a Tory. A crap Tory, an unfortunate Tory ... but a Tory nonetheless ... depressin, innit?'' 

- Tanner, just then, elbow deep in your nan ... in the socially metaphorical sense, of course 

Tanner’s poems have appeared in a shedload of little mags, including the distinguished Penniless Press. I gave him a page on that organ’s website and later, after launching Penniless Press Publications exhorted him to send me stuff to turn into a book. He began by making his own – Dole Anthems – but I soon realised he had much more including cartoons and surreal prose fantasies. A veritable cornucopia – or as he might put it “a cornu-friggin spiffin-copia!” 

Swift must have passed through Liverpool on his way from Dublin to London but if he had stayed there and got a job in Lidl he’d have come up with something very like Tanner’s acerbic rants. Soon, if he’d witnessed the procession of stroppy slags passing through Tanner’s checkout, he’d have advised the poor to eat their babies and meant it. 

Tanner’s taxonomy of Liverpool types is a withering catalogue. His drawings reveal hairy-arsed, gap-toothed grotesques, harassed, sweaty bosses, stringy, pop-eyed pissheads, rat-faced, knife-packing runts, and siliconed slappers with toddlers who look like they could bite your nose off. The writing is even more dystopian - it's Liverpool in the year 30 EMD (Era of Managed Decline – to invoke Thatcher’s recently revealed policy for scousers in the 80s). Tanner grew up in this period and although he had his own cell in the Ism Prison he found no answers in it - just despairing graffiti. Twenty years earlier he might have been a hippy radical, a young Trot, but his cohort was more Punk: “Don't know what I want but / I know how to get it / I wanna destroy the passer by cos / I wanna BE anarchy! No dogs body!” 

Tanner is no dogs body but his politics fit no standard pigeonholes either. These aren’t simple-minded left wing rants. Yes there’s anger, frustration, alienation but also an hilarious depiction of the denizens of the Liverpool zoo. Even he thinks the place is getting scary and has decamped to the countryside (like Milton when the plague raged in London) – well, not quite the countryside – Preston to be exact – but I expect he’ll be back – a bit like the Terminator ... if one was to swap the bazooka and motorbike for irony and an expired bus pass. 

Paperback 6" x 9" 202pp  - ISBN 978-1-4716-2473-5 Published March 2012

 

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