What springs to mind when you think of Manchester? Do you walk the city and wish you could put what you’re experiencing into words? A new book from Manchester’s Flapjack Press does exactly that.
The People’s Republic of Mancunia is a 35-page photography project that showcases Manchester’s sights, sites and citizens. Each image, taken by photographer Rik Jundi, is interpreted by an ekphrastic poem (a vivid description of a scene) from one of the city’s leading wordsmiths.
Jundi has taken photographs all over the world. Now based in South Manchester, his collection of reportage-style images represents the interaction of the people and places of his home city. The book’s 35 specially commissioned poems includes contributions from award-winning poets including Neil Bell, Rosie Fleeshman, Dominic Berry, Northern Soul’s very own Henry Normal and Cathy Crabb, Gerry Potter, and more.
We’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peak and publish a few images and poems from the book.
The Magic Bit by Rosie Fleeshman
You find peace in the space between that which you fear most
and the weathered hope of what could have been.
This is the place we come to dream.
Stealing moments of sleep with the leaves,
they still believe there’s another way.
Passing Time by Rose Condo
After she slipped from her mortal coil
He stripped the walls and floors
Back to oiled boards.
He stored her things out of sight.
He spends day and night
In the dim lamp-lit room.
Through vape plumes
He passes time
Scrolling through scores and tweets
Seeking moments of relief
From grief and grit and gloom.
They Don’t Want Your Elegance by Gerry Potter
how it’s fused, bluesed ‘n’ bruised in.
Shadows are lit,
light slivers, slits the bleak,
body punctuating, arcing a sleek.
Worked out how to hang your phone,
a little comma completing the sentence.
drama of shadows,
complicates and defies plot,
hoods cowling, trainers pad a paw,
a little lycanthropy moon-howling.
The curse of youth is changing,
like it’s always changed,
but still they don’t want your elegance.
Don’t get your hang,
how it drapes operatically,
its verse and choice of material
They’re not about companionable restraint,
calm, cool managing of terror.
They don’t know your elegance,
how it lights highs,
excitedly rides tremor.
They don’t want to think you’ve worked this out
because they think you can’t work this out,
they don’t want you to want your elegance.
A Fingy of Beauty by Cathy Crabb
A man is made of mud –
Clay Peter and Paul are Grecian gurns;
every bricklayer sandwiched with his
sinew, fingered into the gaps in the wall
at the pub. They lean on the bones of others –
no one needs to look straight at you,
no one needs a kiss to cope –
head tilt, trap clapped open, Ale Inn.
In summer those mud men diffuse on the skin,
cement a lifeless ordinary and yet still
the joy forever that any of us
remember because happiness… because a smile
gives us all a bit of a break.
Misfits by Stevie Turner
Mancunia comes and goes in waves:
pubs and clubs hustle and bustle,
old signs covered and uncovered again,
comic book geeks and inked misfits
scratching the underbelly of the city;
people on the edge of art and mortality.
Let’s fill this town with artists – and musicians, skaters,
record shops and vintage. Stag and hen parties. Drunks.
Turn bars into lounges into boutique hotels,
turn old brick into new brick which doesn’t fit, riot
and let loose in the night street artists who understand this.
Like the Carnaby Street of Smash Hits and trilby hats,
empires which rise from ruins flush artists from safe spaces,
turn others into stars on a cigarette-stained walk of fame,
nomads moving from one area to another
to start the regeneration process once again,
tidying up a single S left hanging on an adjacent building:
SHOES. ½ catalogue price, ½ catalogue price.
The Workings Below Streets by Dermot Glennon
Beneath lie worlds
that underlie worlds
where the city’s grease
goes to be with fumes
trapped in underground car parks
Air and petrol
in any colour of grey you like
fill this waiting morning
for the car share
Early awoken to wait below
deep in the places no one goes
the workings below streets
From lands across the seas I come
from airports 4am I come
from dry cleaners
in cufflinks in lounge suits
dressed I have come
Alone in underworld car parks
dressed in the finery of tailored suits
tired and playing at professional bluff
measured in the ubiquity of barista coffee
a Facebook connects
to the me I was
The People’s Republic of Mancunia: A collection of photography by Rik Jundi is published by Flapjack Press.
A mixed–media live stream of performance poetry, photography and a discussion with Rik Jundi will be streaming as part of this year’s Virtual Chorlton Book Festival. The event will take place on September 21 from 8pm and will live stream on the Flapjack Press Facebook Group Page.