Steve Ely has published two books of poetry, Englaland (Smokestack Books, 2015) and Oswald’s Book of Hours (Smokestack Books, 2013).
He’s also published a novel, Ratmen (Blackheath Books, 2012), and a biographical work, Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015).
‘It is a privilege for Calder Valley Poetry, an enterprise in its infancy, to be given the opportunity to publish the poetry of Steve Ely – a union of the wapontakes of Morley and Osgoldcross.
Werewolf provides a sombre recognition of the fragility of civilised values when violence is liberated by the permissions of the state, in poems which display all the qualities associated with Ely’s writing: erudition, panache, vision and, above all, artistry.’ – Bob Horne
‘Every poem finds its right form – I don’t mean just line and rhyme but the entire cast of the poem, language, vocabulary, ancestry, the poem’s unique presence on the page. Thus this narrative catalogue of the capacity for human harm, as it were an evil inhering in our genetics, the irredeemable automatism of cruelty on demand, becomes a song/story book that grips, fascinates and in a grim kind of way, delights. It doesn’t end happily but it ends in a calming rightness.’ – Peter Riley
‘Steve Ely anatomises physical and structural violence; the will to power; collusion, corruption, ambition and fear. He does so through a cast of visionaries and vigilantes, rainbow liberals and racists, super-heads, sectarians and sadists. Genocide cavorts. Prepare to be enlightened and upset.’ – Ed Reiss
At bay in wounded country, panting across
the loping snowfield for sanctuary of pines.
Hounds bungling the line through folds of worried sheep,
discharge of oaths and anxious shotguns
barking off the trail. Torn throats and sucked blood:
constables, collaborators, conscripts and their whores.
From disembowelled cottage to massacred farmyard,
the identikit’s identical: bristling trapezoids
hackled with ice, scissoring carnassials;
eyes like fiery opals, bright as lamp-post piss stains
in late October snow.
Nightfall cowers militia in barracks, cringes peasants
to rosaried hearthsides. Doors bolted against the wind
and worse. Darkness prowls the town’s dirt-streets,
its growled-breath misting the windows of the tavern,
where oil lamps blaze and red-faced farmers blare.
Plank-door slammed off its hinges: shadow
of the man-wolf, forming out of night;
grey steel gun barrel, lit gaze and dripping maw.
Shankill’s chalk-voiced elocution breaks
the howling silence:
Trick or Treat?