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Issue #1463      14 July 2010

Book Review by Don Wilson


by Jim Sharp – a prolie who writes poetry

Australian poetry tends to neglect if not deny its working-class voices. Literary journals rarely publish poetry that focuses on working-class life. Some educated people claim that there is no such thing as class in Australian society and that these ideas are outdated and belong to Europe. Others say it is propaganda.

Poet Jim Sharp – a voice for the working class. (Photo: Ted Reithmuller)

Our educated elite who dominate the arts say that poetry should talk of “transcending art” such as “love”. This worship of “transcending art” denies that “being determines consciousness” and that the objective realities of class struggle determine our thoughts and feelings.

Basically these ideas of transcending “art” without class are capitalist art. It is not surprising that much of what we are surrounded with is art that comes from the US and supports Imperialism. This is a weapon that they call “soft power” that keeps us from challenging monopoly capitalism, for which they claim there is no other solution.

“it’s a booz-wah world still

where their spinners spin

& spin a web of class neutrality.”

Workers who are educated on the factory floor don’t have to study books to find out who are the capitalists and how they are exploited. These are the realities of class struggle.

Jim came from the strongly working class area of Rotherham. This is where the Rivers Don and Rother join and where the mine pitheads and heavy industry also combined in the final days when Britain was the “workshop of Europe”. These were times when class antagonisms were intense as England drifted into World War II.

“for the class lines that day were razor sharp as the

workin’ class fought fascism in england & abroad”

Jim’s language reflects the special accents of the unique language of Rotherham mixed with his experience and thoughtfulness of years of work in Australia.

His description given to Norm Hughes, the union delegate at the Moreton Freezer Works, can also be said of Jim…

“his personal political views were open

‘ence comrades could allus question

knowin’ class consciousness comes with social


One aspect of Jim’s class love of this country is the concern and assistance he devoted to the conditions and struggle of Aboriginal people.

“oh! soul of this country!

the dispossessions!

the tone-deaf silence!”

Ray Hearn says of Jim’s work…

“He’s made a pen of his boning knife and set about eviscerating cant and claptrap. All that accumulated experience, learning, reflecting sizing up is the muscle behind that blade filleting the body politic, hauling its carcass up on his butcher’s hook…”

This is a valuable book of working class art with deep insights and valuable experience that can only be gained from a lifetime of class struggle.

This book can be purchased online from Ginderra Press,
PO Box 3461 Port Adelaide 5015. Price is $22.50 plus $5.50 p&p in Australia.

To order: (Books are listed by author alphabetically.)

In Adelaide, Ginninderra Press books are available at East Avenue Books, 53 East Avenue, Clarence Park 5034.  

Next article – Opinion – Capitalism educates through life’s experiences

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