New Book and Album: Anthony Joseph’s “Rubber Orchestras”

Rubber Orchestras is a new collection by Trinidadian–born British poet Anthony Joseph, released this month by Salt Publishing. It is also the title of Joseph’s third album with The Spasm Band, which was released earlier this year.

Description:  Taking its name from a poem by American surrealist Ted Joans, Rubber Orchestras is an energetic, sensuous and intriguing collection of poems, written over a period of four years with an (as yet) undisclosed method of composition the writer calls Liminalism. This collection was selected from 100 poems written using this method. This is the poets’ most radical work so far, in parts psychedelic, surrealist but always engaging. [. . .] The book is divided into three sections: Precious and Impossible — a selection of poems influenced in subject and style by calypso and jazz; The Colony of Light — poems concerning Caribbean history and society; and Grotesquerie, in which there are darker, more obscure poems.

Anthony Joseph is a Trinidadian-born poet, novelist, musician and lecturer. Joseph holds an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he is also completing a PhD. He lectures in creative and life writing at Birbeck, University of London, and tours internationally. Joseph is also the author of three other poetry collections: Desafinado (1994), Teragaton (1998) and Bird Head Son (2009). His first novel, The African Origins of UFOs was published in 2006. Joseph performs and tours internationally accompanied by his band The Spasm Band. He has also released two other critically acclaimed albums with the band; both released to coincide with book publications. In September 2004 he was chosen by Renaissance One and the Arts Council England as one of fifty Black and Asian writers who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature.

About his music, Robert Denselow writes: “Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, but now based in London, he’s a poet, novelist and university lecturer, as well as a musician and leader of this wildly eclectic band. His music is based around his poetry, and the poems are mostly spoken or furiously declaimed rather than sung, and are matched by insistent backing work that mixes funk, jazz and rock with the global influences of his Caribbean childhood, through to Afrobeat. And it works, remarkably well, thanks to the contagious enthusiasm of his band, and the confident, varied production work, mostly provided by Malcolm Catto, leader of the Heliocentrics, celebrated for their work with Ethiopian jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke. There are passages of slinky funk riffs, jazz improvisation featuring saxophone, flute and percussion, and occasional soulful vocals from Jasnett Lindo. The final track, the 11-minute Generations, is a lighter, more drifting piece, arranged and produced by Jerry Dammers, that deals with Joseph’s homeland and ancestors. Like many of the poems on this original set, it’s a mixture of the thoughtful and surreal.”

For original review by Robin Denselow, see

For publication information, see

Listen to “She is the Sea” here:

Also see the poet’s blog at

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