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Do or Die Poets Facilitator Miggy Angel on New Book Extreme Violets

5 September 18 interview: Aly Stoneman
illustrations: Robert Lever

Originally from South London, poet, performer, and drug and alcohol worker Miggy Angel is a long-term resident of Hoodtown and the author of two poetry books, Grime Kerbstone Psalms and Extreme Violets. We hollered at him to see what he’s up to at the moment...

What you been up to, Miggy?
I’m just keeping the plates spinning really. Still facilitating Do Or Die Poets creative writing workshops and performance events for people in addiction recovery, along with the monthly Speech Therapy poetry night. I’m also the editor and chief arsonist over at Burning House Press, where we’ll be publishing Rob True’s book of short stories, Gospel Of Aberration, later in 2018. Plus I’m trying to get some words down on the page and stage myself.

Tell me about your most recent publication...
It’s my second book of poetry, Extreme Violets, and it came out in April. It’s a two-book, limited-edition box set published by the amazing Notts publishers Hi Vis Press, designed by the genius Sophie Pitchford, with a paperback version to follow. I approached Hi Vis with the box set idea around January 2017 – I’ve always thought if double albums are okay for rock stars, why not poets? – and Hi Vis were mad enough to go for it. The finished artefact is a thing of rare beauty. I am ecstatically happy with how it turned out.

I was aware of the light being squeezed out during the writing of it. Death and hopelessness are real. Not everyone makes it out alive. Not everyone has an epiphany anecdote, or a recovery story.

What truths have surfaced in the work?
Extreme Violets is intentionally epiphany-free. I was aware of the light being squeezed out during the writing of it. Death and hopelessness are real. Not everyone makes it out alive. Not everyone has an epiphany anecdote, or a recovery story. People we love are dead. I wanted to honour that, not sugarcoat or sanitise it. My poem printed here – Judas Rings His Sponsor – is representative of some of the themes of the book. They are spoken from a stark vantage point between hope and despair, and the poems' speakers are seemingly trapped or unable to reach beyond their experiences.

Do you miss London?
I am heartbroken and incandescent over the gentrification, land-theft and social cleansing of my hometown. Especially the area I grew up in, Elephant and Castle. I will never, ever get over it. A part of me is dead. The violence of gentrification and displacement is devastating; the damage to the psyche is overwhelming. We have yet to develop a language for what has happened, for what has been wrought on peoples and places, and that is intentional. It's part of the design of gentrification; a physical, spiritual, cultural, historical, ancestral, domestic assault committed in broad daylight under the cover and sanctity of the law. I've referred to Elephant and Castle as a crime scene for the past twenty years. I suppose Extreme Violets is my blues for the city I love.

What gets you fired up?
This might sound a bit Spinal Tap, but it’s rare when I’m not fired up in some way or other. People who know me know that my head is always a bonfire conflagration. The battle for me is more in trying to manage the energy levels and attempting to ease the gears. This year, politically, it’s hard to know where to start. The far right are in the building.

I’m still devastated over Grenfell Tower and the continuing injustices that the survivors are enduring. I’m fired up by honouring my commitment, allegiance and duty to working-class multicultural unity. And I’m still fired up by helping others fulfil their creative potentials, supporting my peers in addiction recovery, and being a positive member of the recovery community: those are the only games in town for me.

Extreme Violets will be launched on Nottingham 9 September, at Waterstones Nottingham. Miggy will also be performing upstairs at Oscar & Rosie’s for Poetry is Dead Good, as part of Hockley Hustle, on Sunday 28 October.

Speech Therapy takes place at The Chameleon Arts Cafe on the fourth Thursday of every month.

Judas Rings His Sponsor

The counsellor whispered
the words   To get clean

and my mind meandered
through the terrain

of this infernal terminology.
To get clean   as if

one could ever come                    
undone, as a flower

opens, as if asunder
one could summon a blue

stone, blue as a sky
for washing the scar

from the cadaver, azure
vista for cauterising the eye

of the cataract it harbours.
Down by the river

the patriarch put hands
upon his belt, squeezed

a hushed Kneel from his
liar’s lips. To get clean   as if   

the expulsion of the toxin
from the opium-embalmed

son, would mean the slate
wiped absent, after

the beheading of mother.
To get clean       can you even


how a flower

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