By Chris Jones
I grew up in Quorn, Leicestershire. I’ve lived in Sheffield since 1990. I came to the city to do a PhD on the poetry of Thom Gunn. I was given an Eric Gregory Award for my poetry in 1996. From 1997 to 1999, I worked as a writer-in-residence at Nottingham Prison. I was the Literature Officer for Leicestershire for five years and then spent some time as a freelance writer and poetry festival organiser. I’ve spent the last fourteen years teaching Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University (my staff profile page is here).
In 2007 I published my first full-length collection, The Safe House, with Shoestring Press. I have since published a number of pamphlets and full-length collections, including Jigs and Reels (Shoestring Press, 2013), Skin – which came out in 2015 and is still available from Longbarrow Press – and the sequence which I have just published with Longbarrow Press: Little Piece of Harm (2021).
About Little Piece of Harm
Little Piece of Harm is a narrative sequence that focuses on 24 hours in the life of a city that has been shut down in the aftermath of a shooting. As this act of violence ramifies outwards, the sequence explores the geographical reach of Sheffield – its urban settings and its rural landmarks – and eavesdrops on the city’s conversations. Pete, our narrator, comes into contact with a range of people who reflect on this public killing in relation to private moments of trauma and harm. Subsequently we learn that Pete has his own burdens he is coming to terms with, as day bleeds into night.
From Little Piece of Harm
Rhyme all the ways a city battens down.
Say, river waters tide the roads to town.
Power's stripped from mainframes, circuits, wires.
Crowds look on: a business district dies.
Squares are clad as monuments to trades.
a man steps back from a black saloon
as traffic smokes and throttles, stalls, blockades.
to ditch his echo under Wicker Arch.
the curry houses, pubs no longer public
might glimpse a strap, some shade beneath his shirt
before observers get to alter the facts;
who edges round a blue abandoned van.
pics will later show a pistol's heft
(here's blurry footage caught on someone's mobile).
the palest citrus fragrance thinned with sweat;
as if his palm might cup an ear, a cheek.
and through this opened face a voice pours out.