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Books Editorial

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Paul Summers, Culture Matters

This slim volume from Northumbrian poet Paul Summers is a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of mining communities in the region as well as the resurgence of the progressive, socialist, democratic left in the UK. It takes the form of a long poem and casts an eye over the Durham Miners’ Gala, a special day in the north-east calendar, and the very embodiment of such values. The motto of ‘The Big Meeting’ is, “The past we inherit, the future we build”, and Summers catches that mood perfectly. It’s a poem steeped in a sense of community, of belonging, but also recognises the need for continued struggle in the fight “to build jerusalem anew. / for need not greed”. The poem is cleverly constructed around un-rhyming couplets, mirroring the higgledy-piggledy nature of the gala’s march, and as it builds it sloughs off the naysayers and looks towards a brighter future: ‘history is done, / the cynics bark, / they do not hear it / singing through the dark, / they do not feel / our loses ache, / the past lives on, / our future still to make.’