‘Phil Hancock’s insights are precise and authentic – he is part of the great tradition of writers who capture the true spirit of working-class life.’
– Ken Loach
Barely noticed, as if glimpsed through the window of a high-speed train, a familiar England persists: concrete garages, disused warehouses, pebble-dash, caravans, Ritzy’s on a Friday night, a boy scuffing a stone along a pavement.
City Works Dept. has work to do: repairs, maintenance, above all the paying of attention to a stratum of British society whose people and occupations have suffered from long neglect. Philip Hancock’s poems do the job with patience, empathy and unshowy skill.
‘Philip Hancock’s lyrical ballads have the same invigorating combination of song and drama that give the original Lyrical Ballads their intense liveliness. I’ve always liked his cheeky urban insights and info. They hit the spot others don’t even know exists.’
– Hugo Williams
‘True originality: he writes with the sparkling eye of one who has discovered a rich and unaccountably neglected subject for poetic investigation.’
– Christopher Reid
‘In Philip Hancock’s City Works Dept. we get the great joy of a whole poetry collection opening with the word “daft”; more books should open like that …
‘Throughout these poems there is a desire for escape which can never quite be realised, and a celebration of the quiet choreography and expertise of tradespeople and their manual work (though never a glib romanticising of it) … The brilliance of this collection is that it crosses boundaries, both real and imagined, in order to bring back dispatches from places that are still so rarely written about in poetry.
‘We need authors like [Martin] Hayes and Hancock now more than ever. [Their books] are important reading, and [the] authors deserve to be considered alongside the classic poets of the “poetry of work” genre, Hattersley, Fred Voss and, of course, Philip Levine.’
– Andrew McMillan, Poetry Review
‘At last, a full-length collection Philip Hancock ... [These poems] have a direct, instinctive feel for weight, texture, place and people, whether these be family or workmates … Hancock’s lexicon comes from his work – the flat-bed Iveco truck, the 10×10-foot tower, the RSJs – as does his realistic view of pay and team work … Fortunately for poetry readers Hancock has supporters who recognise how good his poetry is, how clear and engaged with the hands-on reality of the world. This collection is dedicated to Michael Laskey, the publisher of Hancock’s two pamphlets, who gave him early mentoring through the Smiths Knoll Mentoring Scheme. It’s good to see this sustained encouragement repaid with this well-deserved dedication.’
– D. A. Prince, London Grip (full review here)
From reviews of Philip Hancock’s pamphlets:
‘Authentic, trim reports from the world of work – City and Guilds, pilfering, how to carry a ladder, sex in a van (‘From the dust-sheet, wood slivers/ and flecks of paint stick to her arse’). One poem is called ‘Knowing One’s Place’; these poems know the workplace.’
– Craig Raine, Spectator
‘These are poems of concise and knowing humour.’
– Alison Brackenbury, PN Review