“Street, rattle your skulls, shake
Your pouch of owl’s claws, baste
My charred heart in your asphalt kiln,
Street, spit the steel bit from your mouth…”
(Litany For The) Street – Miggy Angel
Grime Kerbstone Psalms
It’s taken the whole of this year to get here. My review and interview with Miggy Angel. His poetry collection Grime Kerbstone Psalms I read inside a sombre day in December last year. It changed me profoundly. Through him I discovered writers, artists, photographers and film makers that fired my imagination. His poems gave me the push to delve into myself and see what I could find. Mostly, it’s his writing and images with that unnerving reality that hits the spot for me. The honesty inside the dark, he unknowingly mentors.
My questions felt stilted. We did our best to have a bash and banter, but life got in the way. Whenever Miggy and I ever got time to connect, bit by bit, it started to make sense. Like ephemeral intercontinental pen friends. A lot of the questions were fueled by my own inquisitiveness and when reading them over, they just paled into a wall. They at least became triggers for Miggy to answer. Concentrating more on the visual this year, he uncovers society, his images are fast and messed up, all you can do is be still and take it all in. It is the most exquisite grit to view and says so much more than words, something I thought could not be possible in comparison to his poetry. I asked Miggy if I could just take his answers that he has sent me and connect them to some of the images he has taken this year. The result is a series of posts to discover for yourselves the unique insight that lives inside the poet.
Words & Image by Miggy Angel
My mum is English, a South London girl. My father was Spanish, from Cordoba in (Moorish) Spain. Angel is my middle name. I grew up in South London in the 70’s and 80’s as a Miguel (Miggy) with a Spanish surname full of what John Fante called ‘soft vowels’, and an absent father allowing me no root-path back to the origins of my name. So, culturally, you could say I have always felt like an outsider. Talking of Fante, I read Ask The Dust in one sitting, a solitary afternoon sat in a library. When I read these lines of his, which articulated something I related to so absolutely, I was again resolved to writing as the only way for a mongrel-hound like me.
“Smith and Parker and Jones, I had never been one of them. Ah Camilla! When I was a kid back home in Colorado it was Smith and Parker and Jones who hurt me with their hideous names, called me Wop and Dago and Greaser, and their children hurt me, just as I hurt you tonight. They hurt me so much I could never become one of them, drove me to books, drove me within myself, drove me to run away from that Colorado town,” … “But I am poor, and my name ends with a soft vowel, and they hate me and my father, and my father’s father, and they would have my blood and put me down.”
– John Fante from Ask The Dust