All Damn Day


Author: Jemima Foxtrot

Finished on: 22 September 2016

Where did I get this book: Bought from Jemima Foxtrot’s website at the earliest opportunity, this one was a no-brainer when it came to breaking the ban

All Damn Day is the first volume from the ridiculously talented performance poet Jemima Foxtrot. Her poetry, which she sprinkles with outbursts of song, has a storytelling style. Like she’s confiding in you over a glass of wine. Unafraid to share both her vulnerability and her confidence, it’s like time spent with a (exceptionally observant and articulate) friend who holds nothing back.

I wasn’t sure how successful Foxtrot’s poetry would be in this purely written word form. But, having read this through twice now, it may be even better. Because you can read sections several times, linger longer over the words and reflect.

All Damn Day takes us on a journey from morning through to evening in an eclectic selection of poetic forms. As well as healthy helpings of sex, drugs and folk music, there is plenty of the everyday: tube journeys, cups of tea, lunch in the pub. And far from being mundane, this is where Foxtrot really shines. From her ‘dimple-buttered crumpets with good company’, to ‘chewy, gristly, grey-brown rain’, to the ‘coquettish kettle’s steam and click’ she is delicious on the minutiae.

There is a naively optimistic tone to much of the book. But it’s a conscious, deliberate optimism. And it’s not that the naivety is unsophisticated, but rather that through refusing to be at all cynical or calculating she’s actually taken a step beyond most of us in this business of understanding the life we’re living. Foxtrot is experiencing the world more fully, and as a reader it’s enriching to be exposed to such openness.

It all means that you’re looking at the world a little bit differently by the time you put this book down and return to your normal life.

It is only right that I confess my complete lack of objectivity when it comes to Foxtrot’s work. She is the little sister of a very nice man who was my boyfriend in my late teens. She was four and I was seventeen, and we got on like a house on fire. There may have been a Spice Girls dance routine or two involved. (Sorry Jemima, I know you’re spectacularly cool now – but at least you have the excuse that you were only four).

It’s even possible that I personally set her on the road to poetic superstardom. I used to pick her up from school sometimes, and walking home one day we composed a rap about Slack Top, the place near Hebden Bridge where we lived. The part I remember is:

This is Slack Top and that’s Slack Bottom/ If you want cool people come here cause we’ve got’em

I expect that must be where this huge talent for poetic expression was sparked. And I can only imagine that its omission from this volume is a gross editorial mistake

But the truth is that no matter how deep my affection is for this lady, it doesn’t change the fact that All Damn Day is superb. I want my daughter to read it. I want my son to read it. I want everyone to read it. Because I’d like to live in a world where we all absorb a bit of the kindness and bravery in this book.

I am so impressed that my congratulatory gift to you Jemima is the sole rights to the amazing Slack Top rap.


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