“Formerly” By: Tamar, Yoseloff

“Formerly” By: Tamar, Yoseloff


There are many specific references for “Mapping Englishness” located in Tamar, Yoseloff’s book of poems called “Formerly”. The “Duk of gton” explains how this space affected the character in the poem. This space provided the character with a memory. I think that the picture in the poem itself is a good indicator that this poem was set for a memory. It visually shows words on the building not being there which means they have fallen over time. It also shows how the building is turning into history and just a memory and the character is having a hard time letting go. On page six it states, “Gone, the days of ho fun duck, back of the truck fooling around, white guy funk, goon squad drunks, a ton of laughs.” This poem tells about the space a person had that was once a place of happiness but now overtime has made the person feel an “ache in their brain”. Throughout the novel there are all different sort of pictures and poems that reflect the picture being shown.  Each picture is in black and white almost as if it is reflecting a memory or it is taken place from a while ago. The novel itself even goes with an “off the map, exhibition” booklet where you can actually go to travel and see all of the sights. This is an extreme literal meaning of “Mapping Englishness”. I like that in the booklet it shows the difference a few years can make of a space like a building. When we met her and the author spoke to us, she even talked about how some of the buildings were not even around anymore. I believe that each poem is reflecting some sort of background of the space in the picture.


The poem, “Capacity House” on page one, describes a little apartment building that cannot take much room. It states, “Fat chance you’ll ever break out of here, this depository for great mistakes, you’ve made your home. Just enough room for a bad and a stool, a cell of sorts, for a man of thin means. Lean times.” This is describing (to me) a person who can no longer financially support him or herself and are going through a rough time. I think that it is saying that it is going to be a very hard struggle for this person and will be hard for them to get out, and find a more positive space to live. The picture itself shows how the apartment is physically very small and would be a difficult space to live in. In her booklet Tamar, Yoseloff describes a little more in detail about the picture and its poetic meaning. “Crammed down a narrow side street tower near Tower Bridge, in 2002 this had been a mailing house for over 30 years.” Then her poetic meaning to the picture was, “ My poem developed from a play on the name, a place that looks like less than its moniker suggests. I conjure a relationship between two people who’ve come to the end of the road.”

I believe these specific landmarks are a way to Map Englishness because it describes actual spaces in the City of London itself. It references these specific places and how they are affecting their society and people around them.


1 thought on ““Formerly” By: Tamar, Yoseloff

  1. I really like and agree with the idea that the places in this poetry collection would be considered reflective memories. I’ve thought of it as a past versus present; the idea that everything changes over time and these are the remnants of the past, an older London. I think your idea is very unconventional, but also makes a lot of sense. Being so old, these places hold a lot of memories, and as they change over time, they become lost in today’s London. I was shocked when Yoseloff informed us that the store from Whitechapel has closed before she ever went into it.
    In Capacity House, I do agree that the main character is going through a tough time, but he or she isn’t the only one. I got the impression that everyone in this place is struggling and just barely surviving. The two people that have “come to the end of the road” I feel just cannot do anything anymore and are desperate for shelter. I also feel that the map added a touch to the theme of “Mapping Englishness.” Especially since these places have changed over time and we were able to see a before and after of them, we were able to see how London itself is always changing, yet part of its past still remains.

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