Disparate Measures 1: Spuds in History

Steven Waling’s latest book “Spuds in History” is the first part of a long term project under the title “Disparate Measures”. Here, we see Waling’s longstanding interest in the cut-up and the askew brought into focus with his customary observational tendencies. It’s not just that he notices what other’s don’t but from a different angle, and often with a relatable compassion.

Thus, the opening poem, “Little Bird”, sees him accompanying a woman on a visit to York Minster and her pointing out with joy the “little bird” in the stained glass pane. In this sense his poems are often a palimpsest, tracings over memories that are themselves reworkings of the instances that provoked them.

He combines this with an often funny, and always engaging fascination with the layers of language, whether its in the frequent use of Lancashire dialect or in the lexicons that we use to make sense of the world.


the working class dream in black and white

drawn down from Moston to Moss Side
the population doubles in a century
till the family move to Wythenshawe
packing old clothes in new cupboards
(From “Go West Where the Skies Are”)

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