The Dreaded Boy

I really like small pamphlets. They fit in a pocket and can be taken to read when you have a spare moment. The Dreaded Boy by Antony R Owen is a good example of a well-made pamphlet. It has striking font and colour; black, white, egg-yellow and blood-red throughout. Each page has a faint water-mark evoking a passport and the poems certainly take the reader on a journey through modern war-zones.

I have heard Antony R Owen read from this pamphlet and his manner and tone is direct and unapologetic: the poems are upsetting but you will listen to them because this is important. The poems are unflinching in that they don’t shy away from things so often unpalatable; children in war zones, the death of a soldier son in war, the grief that remains. Owen looks at both the soldiers and civilians dealing with the aftermath. He is passionately incensed about the atrocity and injustice of warfare yet the poems are not emotional, they feel like accurate reports from a truthful correspondent. It is upsetting to read, however I think that is an essential part of war poetry. To remind the reader of what the reality of it all is. (My feeling is the reality of it all is grief.)


The poems are so good, so vibrant, filled with cunning metaphors that pounce on the reader.  I know they are expertly crafted because the images have stayed with me for days after I read them. Such vivid expressions of the horror and pain of war.

From Eggs

In Gaza the swallows are chirping from bullet holes.

They make their nests with jettison-

cardboard, cotton, human hair.

This pamphlet can be brought for only £2 (!) from Pighog press. I think everyone should read it because Antony R Owen is a war poet in the same tradition as past poets who expressed screams of outrage through their words about the futility of it all, only Owen is looking with  keen eyes at the wars happening right now around the world. Our stupid, bloodthirsty, terrible, beautiful world.


  1. I saw Antony for the first time at Worcester SpeakEasy last week – he’s an interesting and thought-provoking poet – thanks for this post, Ruth.

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