This collection is a fragmented history of the poet's own father and the MG Rover car site in Longbridge, Birmingham. From the beginning there's a foreboding of bad times with the visual poem Identity, which borrows lines from redevelopment plans for the site and reinforces the tragedy of these formal documents with a 'history' column. The poem ends with, 'Is this the right QR code for hidden history?' Thus, emphasising how her family's and others' histories were completely forgotten when it came to the decision that was made to close the factory.
Throughout, we hear Wareham Morris' father's voice in personal snippets that seem to be from his perspective, talking about his reluctant decision to take the job, falling into a role that ultimately became who he was, only for it to be erased by a decision made by a removed entity. This is almost the worst sadness - that her father eventually slotted in at the factory, only for his identity to be stripped away like the car parts featured in some of the poems.
I loved the playing with spacing, word weight and form in places. Some pieces felt like diagrams or instruction manuals, which added to the context of the pieces. In making a kind of instruction manual, this collection almost feels like a way for those betrayed by the closure (and their families), to begin to understand who they are and what they can be in the new roles they have been forced to adopt.
Some poems are an onslaught of words and images upon words and images, much like a production line that's hard to stop, again mirroring the factory and the workers who in one poem, become lines and lines of 'ants ants ants' marching out of the factory. In her poem, Metro, she highlights the pressure of the workers: ‘Chaps collapsed on the track having heart attacks, had to get men working on the track next to the ambulance just to keep it going and another one whizzzzzzing.’ What struck me also was how the production line was seemingly relentless but Wareham Morris punctuated these stories with emotion and humanity.
This collection is a fragmented and pensive exploration of a community betrayed, which is drawn together by the relationship between father and daughter. The mechanisms of the factory are ever-present in the words that slowly falter to an indeterminate stop with the final lines, ‘it had an end and we / alive, in reality / matching your - / some kind of / can hitch our memory’. There are gaps left to the readers in these lines, as though there’s a danger that information will be lost forever but there’s also a suggestion that even though the factory is closed, it feels as though the memories of the time are still very much present in the minds of those who have a connection to the site.
I enjoyed seeing Wareham Morris play with words, presentation and spacing in this collection. What’s also great is when there’s a clear backbone to a collection, which was obvious from the title, ‘Making Tracks’, which was a reoccurring theme throughout. I will be seeking out more writing by Wareham Morris, and personally, it’s nice to see other mums producing experimental writing!
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