Established in 1999, Vulgar Press is dedicated to the publication of working-class and other radical forms of writing


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Punch On Punch Off
Geoff Goodfellow
72pp 0 9580795 2 8 rrp $14.95

Published in association with SA Unions, Punch On Punch Off is a 72 page collection featuring poems about work and workers.

These are poems that detail the brutality and savagery of working life and demonstrate its debilitating effects on blue-collar and white-collar working people and their families.

There’s a woman working on a building site and her story, a militant Irishman on another, and then there are poems responding to the ten or twelve hour days spent on some sites and the issues faced by those workers. There’s a young woman shop assistant who has to vomit into a plastic bag behind the counter because there is no-one to cover for her. There’s a poem on John the bank robber, bragging about ‘how he never let a gun show a tremble’, but also detailing the decay of fourteen years jail and the boredom and attendant waste. On the other side of the counter there’s a poem about bank tellers and the stress levels they live with as they battle with less staff, longer queues and impatience. Sounds familiar? It’s the Bank of Montreal in Canada, but it could be … which bank do you think?

Poems too on the handing-on of particular knowledge and skills, and of the keeping of it. Not to forget the perceived invincibility of the young, and the sometimes tragic reality. Of the nature of contemporary work and how a mobile phone is a pre-requisite as bosses’ demand that workers be on tap 24/7. A poem too on the confusion as to just what are our inalienable rights? And poems on the repetitive nature of some semi-skilled work and the dumbing down effect that is often unmentioned…or unmentionable. Often what happens at work has a profound effect within the homes of workers and their families. These are areas of Australian working life that demand a re-think.

Punch On Punch Off contains poems that deal with the contemporary migrant mix that don’t hide behind John Howard’s white picket fences.

This is a collection of confronting poems about a confronting Australia. They are poems too that revive material from Geoff Goodfellow’s earlier, now out-of-print collection No Ticket No Start.

Like Geoff’s life, this collection twists and turns towards an acceptance that time is not on your side. So, if the obvious injuries of class, the broken ribs and racing hearts, get you down, try reading a couple from up the back. The focus there is still as sharp as the language, the beat of the lines no less insistent, but the framing is larger, and not just because he is traveling the world. The screws, after all, are everywhere. From start to finish, one point sticks out: the truth is a question of who is allowed to know what. What’s more, Geoff shows that it’s never too late to learn at least that much.
Humphrey McQueen

check out Geoff's web site

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