Trouble in the Heartland is Joel Lane's second book of poetry. Like his first collection, The Edge of the Screen (Arc, 1999), it focuses on the only too familiar aspects of modern urban life and decay - violence, loneliness, alcoholism, drug abuse - his clear, incisive narratives and vivid images laced with political invective and satire. Its first section, 'Hard Copy', deals with some of the realities - and ideological distortions - of contemporary life in the West Midlands, and in a society that is at much at war with its own possibilities as it is at war with other nations. Its second section, 'Solo Flight', uses the theme of loneliness to explore friendship, mental disturbance and desire. The final section, 'Common Ground', deals with the elements of a shared identity and a sense of belonging. Trouble in the Heartland argues that we need to use all our resources - knowledge, imagination and feeling - to find constructive strategies for living in critical times. It also pays tribute to the resources of pragmatic intelligence, scepticism and sardonic wit that define West Midlands culture.
Published November 2004