Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

June – July 2024 : Reflections READ ONLINE


Book review

April 01 2024
Transmissions front cover (right), with an untitled  work by Chris Bird © the Pavement Transmissions front cover (right), with an untitled work by Chris Bird © the Pavement

A review of Chris Bird’s recently published collection of poetry and short stories, Transmissions, including an excerpt from the book. Review by Vicki Green

Transmissions is arranged on a continuous chronological timeline and we follow the writer's life trajectory during a chaotic, grim and alarming period. It is a book of poems and vignettes of Chris's time on the streets in all its bleak complexity. The theme of perpetually reeling relentlessly from desperation, fear, confusion and humiliation to euphoria and a state of being cocooned in careless warmth with heroin use and addiction, which plunges him into a subterranean space, is a spectacular poetic journal that brings to mind the work of Charles Bukowski, the legendary American writer.

It's not a particularly uncommon story, but the added burden of schizophrenia weaves its terrifying thread within the narrative and we are made to feel on edge and paralysed as an uncomfortable voyeur. At the same time, it is an enlightening insight into life with this mental health condition, and more writing from people living with it must be welcomed.

The story he writes after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act brings forth one of many laughs we almost feel guilty engaging in – Chris writes with an unsettling dark humour which is really surprisingly appealing. An art therapy scene with Harriet, a teacher “exuding liberal kindness,” had me chuckling and cringing at the same time, just divine comedy.

Chris's work is not at all stylistic or pastiche despite me thinking of Bukowski, it is just extremely straight, bare bones honesty. Raw, unpretentious, refreshing.

Here is a man who has travelled on an oftentimes wretched and dismal life-changing journey, relating his experience and making it beautiful in all its sordid distress and torment. This is his unique skill and ultimately his victory.

The illustrations are exceptional, idiosyncratic and harrowing.

Chris Bird has talent not so much in the way that the poet has made a sacrifice for his art, his art transcends his rough and harrowing experiences naturally, yet could only have been conceived from them.

A courageous tapestry of tumultuous life events, this autobiographical portrait deserves recognition. I highly recommend it.

by Chris Bird


I thought about the city skyline.
Tower blocks, spires, skyscrapers and domes
Scratched out on the side of a lit cigarette.
Grey shadows became ashes, wide swerving entities
Of smoke stretching away like autobahns.
If you watch the embers long enough,
The strength of heroin overwhelms.


I pulled out a broken fag from my pocket.
Laid some cardboard on the pavement and sat.
The traffic choked the wide avenue.
Tube stations gorged on commuters.
Junkies filling up with grey smoke.
This was my skyline.