O Pioneers! (after Willa Cather) by Sarah Barnsley

Thinking of Aoife’s map of her ‘Shangnam’ pale, this caught my attention.

Proletarian Poetry

Back home, our area of Coventry was originally named in the Doomsday book, and in the 19th century when still largely unpopulated, was a place for wealthy tradesmen. However, the city spread to this outlying area in the early 20th century and housing estates began to encroach on the land. My parents bought a two bed terrace there for about £1,500 and all around us, mainly families from Ireland bought up their own. In a way, they were the new pioneers, to borrow from Sarah’s borrowed phrase.

But this was a divided area: between those who owned their houses and those who lived in the identikit council alternative; of course it was only divided by banter. We were no sociologists, but we took on stratification when taking the piss out of those who weren’t allowed to paint their own house, where the streets had the same fence, where…

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