My people by Mark Chamberlain


My people are people who still smoke cigarettes in bed, first thing in the morning, as soon as they wake up. They lie there, smoking, and think critically about the people they met the night before. Some people buy cigarettes for a night out then throw away the unfinished pack in the morning. These people are not my people. Being able to snog a man you’ve just met through cigarette smoke after six pints of lager is the only good thing to have come out of the twentieth century. Sharing a cigarette with a naked man in your kitchen means you’ve made it. My people are people who still nurse their hangovers with cigarettes and coffee. Some people don’t even smoke after sex anymore. I no longer deign to speak to these people and I’ve unfollowed them on Twitter. Smoking while drinking wine is OK, but it’s best done by people who smoke ultra-slim menthols and wear big sunglasses. These people are not my people but I respect their integrity. Smoking cannabis is not smoking, nor is smoking roll-ups, which is what people who are close to nature do. I have disowned all my rural relatives. My people are people who wake up mid-morning and smoke proper cigarettes in bed with naked men and hangovers.

Mark Chamberlain’s poetry has appeared in titles including Magma, The Hudson Review, Finished Creatures, The Financial Times, and FAKE (Corrupted Poetry). He has poems forthcoming in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021 (Black Spring Press Group) and Slovakia in Poems (Global Slovakia). His poem ‘england poz’ was commended in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2020. He has written about ethics, appropriation, and Robert Lowell for The Times Literary Supplement. In October 2021, Mark is starting a PhD at Durham University looking at dialect and code-switching in contemporary British poetry.

3 November 2021