Sunday 17 December 2023

Rennie Parker, "Balloons and Stripey Trousers"

Rennie Parker is a Shoestring Press poet who lives in the bottom left-hand corner of Lincolnshire. Unfortunately she does not have a writer's cat, because she works full time for a regional college doing lots of hard things on a computer. Before this, she had a career with various local authorities, taking jobs with community arts teams, libraries, and tourism departments. She studied History of Art and English at Oxford Brookes, before continuing with an M.A. in Medieval Studies at York, which (in the end) enabled her collection of Troubadour translations, Jongleur, in 2021. Between 1993 and 1997 she studied for a PhD at Birmingham, and published with the Writers and their Work series before deciding to concentrate on poetry. Her first collection, Secret Villages (Flambard Press) featured in the Forward Awards anthology for 2001-2, but there was a ten-year break until the next work, Borderville. She was born in Leeds, and left West Yorkshire in 1981. But she still has the accent.

About Balloons and Stripey Trousers

Take a journey into the toxic workplace, from one who's been there and done it so you don't have to. Who are the winners and the losers, and who is using whom? When people are seen as collateral damage, how can anyone survive these places intact? And was it always like this?

Welcome to the circus.

You can see more details about Balloons and Stripey Trousers on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From Balloons and Stripey Trousers, by Rennie Parker

real not real

so the stiff-haired personnel have managed you into submission
and it's been years now.
I watch you in the guise of a Woman Who Knows.
Time was - and is - a traitor
pulling back from everyone
who put their trust in Her
and the adverts with their seductive ways
their effortless talk of dynamo start-up industries
on various purpose-built estates:
how vigorous and intent
the faces of their brave young men! how taut
the stretched skins with their fuelled enmities,
and you islanded, a pariah
the broken bridge attempting to ford a river
while the foul tide swivels past -
those choice roles awarded
to one who fits the needs of today's environment
when what they mean is 'young,'
hating yourself and what they will become
unable to leave the race,
pinning their rivals to the dartboard
with their casual cruelties
and you, rejected for no reason
facing the same people again and again
every session a marketplace
every market a butcher's hall;
it's you they've got on the slab.

hello can i help you

i'm a peopleperson me and that's what they told me at the clinic and i couldn't believe it when
they made me a supervisor here:

so put the sign on OPEN kelley because we don't want them to think we are shut now do we --

--  if our visitor figures plummet it's your job on the line kelley not mine because i'm a full timer
that's why

[it doesn't do to have them getting above themselves now does it]


i'll be checking in future kelley there's nothing like a little mysteryshopper exercise
to keep you on your toes

it's a stressful job you know very stressful this very but i don't suffer from stress not really not
any more no not after the counselling

because i'm a peopleperson me and i'm here to serve the public and let's face it tourism is
the world and the world is tourism

[beam] hellocanihelpyou?

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