For nearly three hundred years Scotland and England were the Laurel and Hardy of nations. For nearly two hundred years The Prelude was a poem by Wordsworth. Something had to give. As Britain begins to resemble a cut-up by William Burroughs, and the heritage of Robert Burns is flushed down a lavvie in Leith, one verse-monger steps forward to do battle with (or possibly for) cultural chaos.
Bill Herbert's Laurelude is in three sections: 'The Laurelude' is a blank verse myth about Ulverston's Idiot Boy, Stan Laurel. 'Othermoor' depicts a cubist version of the North where the Wild Boy himself, the late Bill Burroughs, rewrites the rules. And 'The Madmen of Elgin' squashes both Lost Boys and Solitary Reapers into Middle Scots verse forms for a pre-millennial song-and-dance.
Like Oliver Hardy this volume refuses to be slim: it bursts all borders, literary and political, creating a zone where the Hollywood musical meets the Jolly Beggars, where lament bumps into love lyric, where the dictionaries go to die.
"A weird mix of Desperate Dan, MacDiarmid and DostoyevskyÖa rare and fantastic voice."
Fiachra Gibbons, The Guardian
"In comparison with Cabaret McGonagall, much contemporary poetry seems dim, deaf, invertebrate and, above all, unnecessary."