Joe Hakim is a poet, writer and performer from Hull, England. The title of this collection of stories and poems refers to a black hole into which all light vanishes and none escapes. Hull is like that, “a place without hope for so long - even for those working all hours against impossibly dangerous odds - that it has become somewhere which tolerates what would be considered as a failed life anywhere else” (Night Publishing).
We see this in his poem “at withersea”:
When I was a boy this place
felt like the other side of the
I would spend hours hurling
pebbles at the tide and
overturning rocks to find
crabs hiding from the sun,
and then I would run
into the ea. The beaches
would be packed with families,
but now everything is empty.
Shops and cafes are ancient
and the kids are all on heroin.
Cracked plaster and peeling
is everywhere, houses falling
into disrepair and no one cares.
Like cliffs slowly
falling into the sea, something
crumbles inside me as I watch
waves break sadly against the
a ghost of childhood
laid to rest at last.
Joe Hakim writes gritty poems about life as the poet wanders through his days and nights, everything swathed in shades of grey and dirty black, “wine-stained towels and / sweat shop t-shirts”, moving from place to place as his circumstances change, surviving as best he can a life that has been hard on him.
Joe Hakim, like Paul Perry and Charles Bukowski, is a poet of the dark places, the disjointed life of alcohol and mind-altering drugs that advertise an “expanded reality” but leave one with a bleak sense of reality that caves in on itself just as a black hole does.
“No Light / Might Escape” is an honest book in presenting what life lived in a black hole is like, where one’s lifestyle is surviving rather than living, and where one’s outlook on life is bleak. From my own personal experience, living in that black hole is no fun because it is so terribly limiting, futile and deadly. Leaving it thirty-two years ago broadened my horizons further than I ever thought I could see.
I plan to spend more time with Joe Hakim’s work. It’s a *****.