Dancing on the Doorstep is Tom Corbett’s recall of long-term memory, bringing back to life a Liverpool long since disappeared: a city of industry, abject poverty, community but above all this love. The poems recapture the lost moments of a childhood and reshape them in the present, offering the reader a glimpse of something unique, personal and yet universal, a collection of memories that contain all of our childhoods and their wide-eyed innocence.
“A serious young Tom Corbett (Dismal Desmal) reaches us up and takes our hand to lead us on on a vivid journey through 1930s Liverpool and into war. Reminiscent of Terence Davies’s films, memories come to us in fragments. We’re introduced to an uncommunicative father, fierce playmates and brothers, aunties and uncles, the Means Test Man, a toothless Grandmother voicing a vengeful Catholic God, but above all a loving protective Mam. The bewildered fears of growing up soon seem small compared to the terror and noise of war, where death comes sudden and often and Tom steps from the Anderson shelter,onto broken glass and rubble smoulders where neighbours houses used to be. He is labelled and pushed onto a train to Wales, his loving mother and what is left of his city receding though the misted grime of the window not to return for a long, long time. In the years in between Tom and Liverpool go through difficult days, but are survivors who know how to live by their wits. In all that time they were never far from each other’s hearts and this shines through every word of this remarkable story.”
– Martin Figura
“Vividly recreating a harsh working class Liverpool childhood – alive with foghorns, the grind of cranes, terrifying damp cellars, Izal disinfectant, searchlights, air raid sirens, earthy Anderson shelters, pea soup and broken biscuits – Tom Corbett’s sharply focused poems ring painfully, tenderly true.”
– Michael Laskey