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Life in Transit by Sam Berkson

Life in Transit searches for the public in a world that is increasingly privatised, both in terms of the ‘chartered’ space of corporate land grabs, but also the detachment of the individual in the late capitalist experience.

Sam Berkson’s collection focuses on the journey, rather than the destination.

'If You Suspect, Report It' from Life in Transit. Performed by Sam Berkson, animation by Lily O'Kelly.

Sam Berkson performs his poem 'Ode to the Bicycle' in front of Huffington Post UK Culture's famous brick wall.  


Praise for Life in Transit

'Sam Berkson’s own stories of life spent on London’s public transport system, including lust on bendy buses and the cramped tyranny of the tube carriage at rush hour brought political meanings to the tawdry and humdrum experience of the everyday commuter.’

– The Independent

'Sam's poetry is warm, honest and well crafted. He is a poet in truest sense of the word.'

– Kate Tempest

‘What’s left of public space after thirty years of neoliberalism? Sam Berkson’s new collection, Life in Transit, finds the degraded relics of public space on public transport. Like the music of Burial or Laura Oldfield Ford’s Savage Messiah zines, Life in Transit is attuned to the peculiar loneliness of life in neoliberal Britain. In the UK, trains and buses are now ‘public’ in name only, since most are operated by private companies. By turns lyrical, acerbic and bitingly humourous, Berkson’s poems describe a world in which, ordinarily , the only 'sympathetic solidarity' is that of commuters who reluctantly cough together. Yet public transport remains a space where our lives can still be transformed by unexpected encounters with others, and where the shadow of another world – collective, egalitarian, democratic – can sometimes be glimpsed.’

– Mark Fisher

'A bit preachy maybe.’

– Ambit

'Full of bite, beauty and wit.’

– Huffington Post

'Life in Transit uses journeys on public transport to discuss politics, freedom and British manners with a dynamic and wry swag, observations of his fellow passengers saying volumes about how he sees the world.'

Hackney Citizen

'Sam Berkson's collection of London traveller's tales whistles by like a locomotive under full steam.'

The Londonist


Further Reading

'A Poet's Guide to Public Transport' by Sam Berkson

– The Quietus

'Is Poetry the New Comedy?'

– The Telegraph

Interview with Sam Berkson

– London Calling

'Another Veteran with a Head Wound'

– Morning Star


About the Author

Sam Berkson is a poet from London. He is the author of acclaimed collection Settled Wanderers (Influx Press 2015). He runs workshops in schools and wrote words for Lorenzo Vitturi’s astonishing photobook Dalston Anatomy. Sam has been performing poetry for many years as ‘Angry Sam’. He is part of the Hammer & Tongue collective.


Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9571693-3-3
ePub ISBN: 978-0-9571693-5-7
Publication date: 6 June 2012
Format: Paperback, ePub and mobi