The boy who couldn't say his name

“John Lawrence’s The boy who couldn’t say his name is a joy to read, a book of poems packed with heart, humour and a unique slant on everyday life. The collection is underpinned but not dominated by the story behind the title, the painful experiences he endured as a child, and his wicked imagination shines through.”
Heather Wastie

“These poems manage the almost impossible feat of being understated yet vivid. In this collection John Lawrence takes us through a landscape of narratives where we can feel life: its little triumphs, its wounds, its quirkiness, its sadness, and its joy. He is also a skilful humourist and it’s a delight to find several poems which showcase his impressive comedic talents. It is a perfect irony that a boy who grew up unable to say his name became a poet with such a compelling and wonderful voice.” Fergus McGonigal

The boy who couldn’t say his name is very empathetic and very entertaining.

ISBN: 978-1-9998444-5-5
80 pages

R.R.P. £10.99

A sample poem from the collection can be found below.

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The boy who couldn't say his name (including P&P)
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Den, Sole Occupancy

I built a den in the living room, just for me.
Minimalist design, mainly blankets and sheets
draped over curtain poles and a golf club.

In the glimmer of a fading Maglite
it’s the echoless drear of autumn in here,
not enough room for a solitary tango
or a quick-fire round of celebrity charades.

I lie on my back, feeling weightless,
stare at the astral alignment of the buttons on her coat,
which doubles as the makeshift door. Now
on with the headphones, so the noise is less black.
Invent a new game – count the buttons on the coat.
See a new something – one blonde hair,
caught in the thread of the button at the end.
Create a new plan – build a den within a den,
then another, and another, and another,
until the last is as small as a jackdaw’s egg.

I’d invite you in, I could unhitch the coat
from the golf club. But we’d only mess it up.


"Lawrence presents a thoroughly enjoyable debut collection. Running the full gamut of the comic and the tragic, Lawrence draws upon a diverse array of influences from life in the Salvation Army to performative masculinity in the world of DIY. These are stories in verse, featuring memorable forays into the lives of a host of characters including the poet himself."
Poetry Book Society Spring Bulletin 2019
Poetry Book Society (PBS) members can get 25% off orders of this collection when ordering through the PBS. More info here.

The boy who couldn’t say his name by John Lawrence is a darkly entertaining debut, bristling with humour and heart in spite of the heart-wrenching story behind the title...

“All the while, these poems remain deeply attentive to musicality, finding rhythm and magic even in the mundane…”

Jade CuttleVersopolis Poetry, full review here .

"John Lawrence knows how to tell a story, sometimes using analogy, and often setting up a scene then creating a volta, like a twist in the tale, so the ending is not predictable....Overall “The Boy Who Couldn’t Say His Name” contains wry, keenly-observed, mostly witty stories and vignettes taking a slant look at familiar scenarios and crafted with care to engage readers."
Emma Lee, full review here

“John Lawrence’s The Boy Who Couldn’t Say His Name (V. Press) is a look at living a good life beyond childhood trauma. It’s narrative and emotive and feels like looking out the window and watching time and people move maybe a step below real time. It’s cigarettes, love songs, betrayal, and Christmas morning.”

Christopher MargolinThe Poetry Question, full review here.

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