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In an interview with Vulture, Michaela Coel considered the impact of a childhood lived beside the brutalist architecture of inner city towerblocks: ‘I think there is something in growing up in concrete and not understanding putting fingers in soil, growing things, foundation.

We use Google Analytics to see what pages are most visited, and where in the world visitors are visiting from. I have walked the deliberately and carelessly unnamed streets of the estates, I have crossed the A roads to get to the KFC, I have stared up at block after block after block. Femi gives us, in his photography; bodies and blocks, the geometry of the council estate, the racial trauma but also the joy in the endz.

You don't even need to be a poetry fan to enjoy this, it's just exceptional stories told with heart and soul. It birthed so much beautiful folklore: there were stories of people running through walls, or turning into cats – because of that painting, everything that you would find in Harry Potter already existed on my estate before I even knew about the books. Arriving full of dreams about saving others through poetry, he had a rude awakening and quit after two years.

In lockdown, when we all had an hour allocated to us to go out into the fresh air, how many had access to greenery and nature? I May Destroy You and Poor foreground those stories criminally overlooked, neglected or silenced in media and literature (arguably also in society more widely). Every Monday when Caleb Femi was a young boy in the 1990s, the walkways in the housing estate where he lived with his parents and four siblings were swabbed down with a detergent that smelled of bubblegum. This book flows from the fabric of boyhood to the politics and architecture of agony, from the material to the spiritual, always moving, always real. The poem goes on to contrast the lofty ideals of its designers with one of its most infamous episodes, the killing of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, who bled to death in a stairwell in November 2000 after being stabbed in the thigh on his way home from the local library by two brothers not much older than he was.The pictures were necessary for two reasons, he says – firstly because the collection carries an archival responsibility, but also because he wanted to police the imaginations of readers whose attitude to urban black youth is shaped and coloured by news photography. His point, he says, is “that often these boys are just as delicate as we can ever imagine them to be. I didn’t have the best experience of school growing up, but there was still space for your imagination and your individualism to at least stretch its legs a little bit.

As part of the unit, use extracts from John Boughton’s Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing (Verso, 2019) as the basis of a RUAE paper.Harling offers her own reaction to the poet, filmmaker, photographer and former young people’s laureate for London. I feel like it was important to make this work, but henceforth I’m solely preoccupied with being a merchant of joy,” he declaims, rising to his feet with a rhetorical flourish. A book of poetry and photography detailing life in Peckham – a council estate in London – as a poor Black boy, Poor is one of the more evocative and haunting (-ly beautiful) reads of 2020. I literally gasped/caught my breath/cried as I read Femi’s poetry collection, just as I had gasped/caught my breath/cried watching IMDY. A few decades ago, this would have seemed unimaginable; and Femi unreservedly reminds the reader of the brutality of poverty that has shaped the endz.

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