Ralph Dartford hails from Basildon in Essex, and now lives in West Yorkshire, having got there via Australia, Barcelona and Los Angeles. He was the founding member of influential spoken word collective ‘A Firm of Poets’, and his first collection of poetry, Cigarettes, Beer and Love was published by Ossett Observer Presents in 2013. His latest collection, Recovery Songs – also touring as a spoken word show – was published by Valley Press in 2019.
Click here to see Ralph read his poem 'Linwood House', and read some others on Twitter here, here and here.
Recovery Songs is a cycle of narrative poems that focuses on the fall and rise of the human condition. These are stories of love, abandonment, abuse, addiction, loss, and by the end, a redemption earned. Unflinching and funny at times, this collection takes its reader through a life lived in the margins, and asks: how do we recover when everything appears lost?
“Searingly honest, Dartford takes you with him into some of the darkest corners of humanity and inhumanity … he leaves everything on the page.” Nick Ahad
“Dartford’s power comes from his unflinching, forensic attention to the big things that can destroy a life, and to the small details that can save one. There is wit here, but also a serious meditation on the courage it takes to survive childhood and become an (almost) fully-functioning adult.” Stephen May
“A beautiful and heart-breaking collection. Dartford pulls no punches on his painful personal journey of a life forsaken, reconstructed and renewed. It reveals as much about the fractures in our society as it does his own life. Read it and read it again (when you’re feeling strong enough).” Christopher Ian Smith
“Brilliant. Brutal, honest, beautiful and warm. This is poetry that takes hold of your heart and refuses to let go.” Pete Mckee
“Leads you through the vagaries and despair of addiction – but gently and delicately; allowing us to stop at every ladderstep of the descent to take full stock of the depths below. This is as full of love as it is full of warning.” Sadie Davidson
“A brilliant, brave, humorous and bold collection that asks not what if, but what now?” Toria Garbutt
Be part of our story. Join the Valley Press newsletter.