The dystopia novella is a truly unique book in which Stephen centres disability and survival. It’s the small details, like a map in place of a contents page, diary like entries as we trace the journey, the stones that ground us, which make this collection feel more than just poetry. We feel transported into a world uncanny to our own, the remnants of connection left to this sole survivor making his way across motorways and abandoned services to… something unknown.
To celebrate the release, Stephen with the help of ACE funding will be Live on Instagram every day from 5th-9th July, reading from the book with a BSL interpreter. Follow Stephen @spokeandpencil.
Stephen Lightbown’s The Last Custodian takes its reader on a journey through a strange but recognisable landscape, almost empty in the wake of catastrophe. En route we encounter airports, shops and pubs, decimated by a mysterious thickening dust. Through Luke, the custodian of the title, this collection shows us the real weight of loneliness and the vital hope that might keep us going. Travelling by wheelchair and motorway, he maps out a journey of survival that explores both the best and worst of humanity.
These poems are incredibly cinematic in their imagery reminiscent at times of apocalyptic films such as 28 Days Later and The Road. This book is both bravely vulnerable and hearteningly playful. The Last Custodian quietly holds the everyday up to the light and makes us long for it; it asks what we could survive if we had to, and how that might change us.
– Suzannah Evans (author of Near Future, Nine Arches Press)
Stephen Lightbown is a Blackburn-born, Bristol-based poet and disability rights champion. Paralysed following an accident in 1996 when he was sixteen, Stephen uses his poems to give a voice to his disability. He has spoken at events across the UK and at festivals such as Shambala, WOMAD, Verve Poetry Festival and Lyra Poetry Festival. In addition, Stephen has read internationally in San Antonio, Texas. His poems have been widely anthologised, and The Last Custodian is his second poetry collection.