Washed up far from home at the bitter end of the '70s, Paul spends an ordinary morning travelling to work at the Rotterdam container port and back into the city that evening to work his second job at a burger bar. As the day passes, his mind travels from his childhood in the UK, to an ill-fated love affair at a Left Bank kibbutz, and back to the chance of love in the present. Paul tries to unravel the tangled knots of biography and the hopes and disappointments of a short life that still has future and promise. But, as the torch is put to the last remnants of the hippie dreams he grew up with, and the harsh 80s economic winter begins to make itself felt in the frigid cold of a Dutch winter's day, Paul's problems are as much philosophical and political as they are personal and ethical.
Mixing poignant, slice-of-life narrative with sinuous, deeply argued reflections on a life lived amidst the first bush fires of Consumerism, and asking questions universal yet demanding different answers from each of us, David Batten's Rotterdam is an absorbing, thought-provoking brush with the textures, heartbreaks and dilemmas of ordinary life—part novel, part autobiography, part ethical tract, individualistic and thoroughly humanist.
David Batten studied history and ideology at Hull College and Hull University, where he took his Master's degree, and also played back row for Hull & East Riding RFC, before rejoining family in Gwynedd, teaching at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, then working in community development in North Wales. His debut collection Transhumance was published in 2016; a pamphlet, Storme Passage in 2017; followed by Untergang in 2018, all published by Cinnamon Press. His first prose work, Rotterdam, is part autobiography, part philosophical reflection. He now lives in the Aveyron in southern France.
David Batten achieves with impressive facility what other contemporary poets achieve – he evokes lyrical spaces and landscapes, he is adept at constructing his poems so that they are premised upon vividly present scenes. For him though this facility isn’t an end in itself but the starting-point of an intellectual exploration which is aided by his depth and range of knowledge and articulated also in a discursive mode which is unusual in British poetry and which helps him to take up themes and develop them from one poem to the next.