In Loco Parentis - Pete Marshall

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Using found material and personal experience In Loco Parentis is poetry at it’s most hard-hitting and affective.

Pete Marshall is a poet who has spent much of his life working with children in care. This book brings into the daylight our darkest, most shameful secrets. Through his unblinking eye we look into the lives of abused children. He tells us what we least want to hear about their terror, pain and rage. He also makes us hear what it is like to work with betrayed and damaged children: they put the adults who try to care for them at risk.

Pete Marshall aims to make his readers uncomfortable; he provokes revulsion and resistance. He aims for a relentless truth that refuses to accept our habitual defences against these children’s experiences. He strips away the legal, bureaucratic, custodial and caring language with which we protect ourselves from this truth, and tells it with a terrible, forceful directness. The poems are neither easy to read nor to forget.

A number of authors have tried to link social work with literature and art, but mainly via literary and artistic criticism. Far fewer have dared to express the extremities of cruelty and sexual abuse in an artistic form, and fewer still in a form that puts no veil of delicacy between viewer and victim. These poems are shocking: they are meant to be. - Professor Bill Jordan

This is, quite simply, the best new collection of poetry I have seen in years. - Peter Finch


I wrote In Loco Parentis over twenty years ago. The saddest, most tragic thing about this book is that I could have written it yesterday. Very little seems to have changed. - Pete Marshall


Author biography