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. A new collection, Recovery Songs – also touring as a spoken word show – is forthcoming from Valley Press in October 2019.
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?
“Dartford’s power comes from his unflinching, forensic – almost brutal – attention to the big things that can destroy a life, and to the small details that can save one. He is fascinated by both the mundane and the marvellous. 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 his own life as it does the fractures in our own society. 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
“Recovery Songs leads you through the vagaries and despair of addiction - but he does it 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
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