My Family and Other Superheroes introduces a vibrant and unique new voice from Wales. The superheroes in question are a motley crew. Evel Knievel, Sophia Loren, Ian Rush, Marty McFly, a bicycling nun and a recalcitrant hippo – all leap from these pages and jostle for position, alongside valleys mams, dads and bamps, described with great warmth. Other poems focus on the crammed terraces and abandoned high streets where a working-class and Welsh nationalist politics is hammered out. This is a post-industrial valleys upbringing re-imagined through the prism of pop culture and surrealism.
That’s him, with the tweed and corduroy
skin, wearing the slack gloves of his hands,
those liver spots like big full stops. That’s him
passing time with his favourite hobby, which is
you know, pottering, or staring closely
at the middle distance, enjoying the magic tricks
his watch does. His pockets are for special things
he has forgotten, no one fills the holes
in crumpets like he does, and in his wallet
is a licence from the Queen and what it means
is he can say what the hell he likes and you
can’t do nothing. That’s him, with a cupboard full
of tea cosies, a severe hearing problem
round those he doesn’t like, gaps in his smile
and stories, a head full of buried treasure
and look, that’s him now, twiddling his thumbs
so furiously, it’s like he’s knitting air.
It’s only him can hold the air together.