Published by Smokestack Books
Peter Blackman (1909-1993) was one of the early pioneers of Black-British poetry. His work has been unavailable for many years, a wrong made right by Footprints. The collection contains four long poems, ‘My Song is for All Men’, ‘Stalingrad’, ‘Joseph’ and ‘London’, plus a short elegy to Claudia Jones, Blackman’s friend, comrade and founder of the Notting Hill Carnival.
This is a book about empire and racism, resistance and struggle, from Korea to the US Civil Rights Movement. And it is a book about liberation, from Stalingrad to London.
Peter Blackman was a major figure in radical Caribbean politics and culture in post-war London. His friends included Paul Robeson (with whom he visited the Soviet Union in 1949), Nazim Hikmet, W.E.B. Du Bois and George Lamming. In the 1950s the composer Alan Bush used part of Blackman’s ‘My Song is for All Men’ in his cantata Voices of the Prophets. In 1980 the ex-Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt recorded Blackman’s poem ‘Stalingrad’ on the B-side of Stalin wasn’t Stallin’, released as a single by Rough Trade in 1981; the song also appears on Wyatt’s 1982 album Nothing Can Stop Us.
Chris Searle’s most recent books include Forward Groove: Jazz and the Real World from Louis Armstrong to Gilad Atzmon (Northway, 2008) and the poetry collection Lightning of Your Eyes (Smokestack, 2006). He writes a weekly jazz column in the Morning Star.