Urchin Belle

by Jenni Fagan

Published by Blackheath Books

Publication date: July 2009

Urchin Belle is a debut collection that combines a genuine poetic originality with a startling no bullshit clarity. This is a voice born out of a life lived on the extreme peripheries of society.

The poems are as touching as they are heroic and as fragile as they are tough.  The erotic and mundane collide with the surreal and extreme to produce a voice at once beguiling, shocking and entirely unapologetic.

The poems take you from downtown Cairo to Glencoe, to a world where sawn off shotguns, underage prostitution, dealers, pimps, bent cops and brutality are the norm.  The stories of those living within and outside the system recur alongside the kind of raw erotic base need that leaves the reader wanting more.


Blackheath Books’ reputation as discerning independent publishers climbs another notch with a bruising first collection of poems by Jenni Fagan.

The back cover is proudly stamped with words from the Chairman of Edinburgh & Midlothian Young Offenders Report 1993: “Miss Fagan is a considerable danger, both to herself and to all of society.” In a Bart Simpson way, I’m thinking “cool”; except it’s not cool. Fagan’s accounts of abuse, violence and prostitution in childhood are far too real and unsettling to get off on some vicarious kick.

You can feel the danger throughout Urchin Belle as the fizzing tension and pressure builds like a can of Tennent’s booted down the stairs, ready to explode. It’s not all doom and gloom though; there are moments of snatched tenderness and the end poem about nicking lights from police cars provides a defiant, funny, and triumphant two-fingered finale. 


About the author:

Jenni Fagan is a poet, playwright and novelist. She has been published in Brand, Paris Bitter Hearts Pit, Tate Modern, Serendipity, 3am, Catalyst and Pulp amongst others. She represented Scotland as a young playwright and has had plays read at Edinburgh Festival and in Athens.

Jenni was born in a Victorian asylum in 1977. Since then she has had three legal names, moved forty times, travelled, played in bands, burnt out each of her nine lives and survived to tell the tales.  Urchin Belle is her first poetry collection to be published, many more wait in line.

Jenni was awarded funding by Dewar Arts Awards to write for three years and get her degree. She intends to use this to work with young offenders and in womens prisons.

Jenni lives in London with her two cats and is completing her fiction novel The Panopticon.

edition: 1st 100 signed and numbered by the author
isbn-10: 1-906099-18-3
isbn-13: 978-1-906099-18-9