The poem by Gaia Holmes ‘Someone Should Tell Her Mother She’s Taking Drugs’ to me epitomises the cultural landscape of growing up in a West Yorkshire town. There has always been a duality and underriding tension between the hippie settlements of parts of the Pennines and the traditional working class culture of these mill towns. Gaia presents this with great perception and wit in this poem about a woman on her street and the impression she leaves on her nosy neighbours. The poem uses great breadth of imagination to describe what the woman’s onlookers may be thinking of her, externalising the interior world of the onlooker to illustrate their perceptions of her – projecting their own notions and concepts of what happens behind her closed door:
‘Up in her attic she conducts a choir of split-tongued harpies.They sing the Psalms backwards, set car alarms screaming and town dogs barking’.
It deals with notions of outsiders and prejudice in an insightful and refreshingly humourous way. The poem could describe any street in middle England but the tone of the poem and the humour to me presents a northern sensibility. I think it is certainly quite culturally specific in dealing with the hippie/working class tensions around West Yorkshire.