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Review: Farewell to the Earth, by Christopher James

The title poem, a wryly affectionate reflection on the funeral of the father of a friend, won the National Poetry Competition in 2008 for Christopher James, who was born in Paisley in 1975, educated at the University of East Anglia, and works as head of corporate communications at the Scout Association in London. His references run wide - Ben Jonson, Thomas Hardy, Harold Pinter, Nick Drake and Suzie Rotolo on the cover / of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - as he roams from Cromer to Kathmandu, writing about the hills of Matabeleland, dusk in Newington Green and, in Norfolk,

the spectres of marsh men and mill hands
marching across the fields with their galoshes
and pitchforks; come to reclaim their own.

He can be funny, feisty, but serious, too:

My soul
I give to the stars, my eyes to the orphans.
I will leave behind nothing but yesterday.