Justin Rollins has a remarkable ability. His poems emerge not from agonising over a blank sheet of paper, but in rap-like fashion, in full-flow and in their complete form. This collection takes the reader on a journey on which those familiar with his autobiographical The Lost Boyz will recognise the landmarks. But this is fresh and captivating work. It deals with the everyday effects of disadvantage, the tensions of wealth and poverty, freedom and incarceration with glimpses of a sometimes dark past, motivational present and uncertain though optimistic future. What registers is Rollins’ eye for detail, the telling remark, the eccentric, the absurd, clandestine places and parallel realities. Much of this is driven by his years living on the streets chasing excitement to compensate for the lack of a conventional upbringing. The result is a raw journey captured in snapshots of street crimes, survival, pain and the author’s travels on the Northern Line.
From ‘Street Wise’…
Some boys played with toy cars
We played with metal bars
And set fires
On the way to becoming the lads
All the traits of a psychopath
They visited museums and studied from books
We bunked history and became hooked
Snotty-nosed kids slowly becoming crooks.
From ‘Cameron’s Kids’…
See we wasn’t born with riches
Luxury food on tap…
I was born guilty
Brought up in those flats
So when you drive on by
Just give us a bib
Cameron what would you do
If this was your kid?
‘A great read. Very original voice’: John Harding, former Chief Probation Officer for Inner London.
‘Justin Rollins is THE authentic poetic voice of the streets…He is bringing a message and whether you like it or not it is real. Truly a genuine voice of the lost generation’: Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, Author of A Few Kind Words and A Loaded Gun.
‘A very talented wordsmith who paints pictures with topics most don’t want to talk about’: The Thirst, London-based rock band and peers of the author (see thethirst.co.uk).
‘Street Crhymes reveals what goes on in the mind of a young offender, how they really feel and provides some real home truths about life behind bars’: David A Williams, Director of Youth Services, London Urban Arts Academy.
‘Transformation of a beleaguered mind and body giving rise to and embracing the artistic creative spirit. Resurrection!’: Yolande Bavan, Jazz Legend
Justin Rollins is a professional graffiti artist and the author of The Lost Boyz (2011) an account of disaffected youth acclaimed by people working with hard to reach young people and others.