Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts - review by Thomas Marks

Thomas Marks

Peripheral Visions

Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness


Jonathan Cape 256pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

‘Edgelands’ seems an apt name for that strange territory where the city squares up to the countryside, the farms process sewage and the parks cultivate retail or business. Pushing together the tidy border of an ‘edge’ with the spatial and imaginative amplitude of ‘lands’, the term catches the friction that characterises our attitude to this often neglected world. Many people prefer to hurtle through it as though it didn’t exist, but for others – from joyriders to twitchers, graffiti artists to golfers – it functions as a playground or sanctuary. And, as this intriguing, lyrical enquiry by poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts demonstrates, the forgotten tracts of brownfield and landfill can incubate all manner of surprising creative opportunities.

Much have they travelled in the realms of scrap metal. Farley and Roberts were raised ‘as edgelands comprehensive school children in the Seventies’ in Liverpool and outside Manchester respectively, and their feel for this landscape is nostalgically informed by memories of den-building and fence-scaling in the northwestern edgelands

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