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Not Only Going Underground Rob Francis Week continues with Mike Fox's review of The Chain Coral Chorus

Not Only Going Underground

Rob Francis Week continues with Mike Fox's review of The Chain Coral Chorus

by Mike Fox,
first published: May, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

What I loved most about this book is the way it posits what is described as an 'enlargening of identity'

RM Francis Week

RM Francis week continues with a review his latest book The Chain Coral Chorus


The Chain Choral Chorus
(Playdead Press)

The Chain Choral Chorus is a collection of essays and poems about the geopoetics of that mysterious part of the central England known as The Black Country. It’s a fascinating, deeply reflective book drawing on concepts such as psychogeography, liminality and deep time, to name but a few. If that sounds obscure or intimidating, it shouldn’t. The essays are erudite but accessible, the poems (often written in dialect) earthy, warm and involving. They blend beautifully.

Chain Coral CoverThe essays describe geopoetics as an experiential phenomenon – walking, reflecting, and observing both one’s environment and one’s sensory response are integral aspects. Readers of Robert MacFarlane would readily identify with the ideas espoused, particularly the suggestion that at any given moment we inhabit a circumstance with roots in all that has gone before, often long, long before.

Hence the soul of a place is seen to reside in its landscape, its buildings, its speech and character, and in its energetic impact on those who live in it, or pass through. Place, then, is examined as a fundamental aspect of identity: of how it is involved in our selfhood, our relationships, our decisions, our way of being in the world.

The poems form a counterpoint, reflecting themes described in the essays but from a far more personal perspective. Often imbued with the speech patterns of the Black Country, they range from visceral evocation:

‘through desolate grounds that used to howl with young men’s toil’

to the transpersonal:

‘Blessings hide in time, so narrow, so wide.’

Together with the essays they comprise an involving and persuasive format.

What I loved most about this book is the way it posits what is described as an ‘enlargening of identity’: if I understand correctly, a broadening of one’s field of identification, a way of moving forward in company with a collective past, of being embedded in but not constricted by one’s personal culture. It’s discursiveness, combined with its coherence, brought to mind the saying that as truth ascends, so it converges. This book, reaching deep into the earth of our past, suggests a valuable corollary: as truth descends, so it expands.


Essential Information
RM Francis Week: Introduction
RM Francis Week: Review - The Chain Coral Chorus
RM Francis Week: Where Creation Begins
RM Francis Week: Landmasses and Landmarks
RM Francis Week: RM Francis The Week Interview
RM Francis Week: Teethgraters - 5 Tunes RM Francis would go to the Ends of the Earth to Never Hear Again 
RM Francis at Outsideleft⇒
7th June, 2023, Outsideleft Night Out with RM Francis tickets here

Mike Fox

Mike worked as a therapist and clinical supervisor in the NHS and has co-authored a book and published many articles on the human repercussions of illness. Now writing fiction, his stories have appeared in The London Journal of Fiction, Popshot, Into the Void, Fictive Dream, The Nottingham Review and many more.


about Mike Fox »»

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