Scratching The Surface

Scratching The Surface, book cover

Scratching The Surface is my twentieth book and ninth poetry collection, which became a #1 Amazon Best Seller in its first week!

“The poems are sharp, clear, and confident.  He has a clarity only a real poet possesses.” – Brian Patten

Following on from ‘Going Off Grid‘ I’ve returned to themes I’m comfortable with, namely nature, love and family but have also tried to slide a few left field observations in too.

As well as some very personal pieces I’ve also tried to write a contemporary collection that pushes the door open on some of today’s accepted myths.  In my view, poets should constantly question authority and not blindly give in to the mainstream, politically correct narrative. I’m often very worried about the negative direction the western world is taking and feel someone needs to speak up on behalf of the voiceless masses as loud and championed minorities take over.

“An epic collage of nature, history, love, adventure and grief that leaps off the page and thumps you in the chest. This book is a sheer Tardis of themes with poems about Celtic mythology, the African bush, ‘The Matrix’, the Notre Dame fire and the lives of Ho Chi Minh and Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker. Others involve close family members, ex-lovers, an abused porn star, a transgender cousin and the constant struggle with mental health issues. This collection ebbs and flows as mesmerically as a river on its journey to the sea. An absolutely superb collection of modern poetry by one of the most under the radar poets in Wales and the UK. A fluid and heartfelt abstraction that speaks loudly to the passion that should run through all of us.” – Mark Davies

Published as a paperback and e-book in October 2019 by Publish & Print.

Sample poems:


River Wye Weekend


You came in a beat up old blue Landie

with tales of sleeping giants on your lips.

It was your first night in the cottage

when the Wye was skipping over stones,

dividing the spiked water milfoil

with sacred Pumlumon Fawr sunk into the sunset.


We watched a heron draggle

in and out of the water crowfoot beds,

trusted we’d see muntjac or wild boar tomorrow.

Look, there’s a kingfisher, jewelled above the otter’s holt

and later a dipper, teeter-totter,

near the yellow-cress.


Watching frogs collared by ripples

we wish for a grass snake or polecat.

Skipping past horse-tail and great willowherb

you trace the sand martins with your miniature fingertips

while I collect peppery chives from the bedrock

and turn my once carefree soul to my stomach.


Although it was cold, so very cold, on the streets of Moscow at least we had each other. Huddled in doorways, scurrying through subways, riding the train to Red Square, scavenging beneath St Basils, wandering through Gorky and begging for frankfurters or boiled sausage outside the backdoors of restaurants and lapping up kefir from the drains. As a baby I’d been brave, learning to survive on the streets like that but when they took me and confined me in that small cage I have to admit I was a little bit scared. Then came the laxatives and the centrifuges and the scalpel cuts bathed with iodine. Dr Yazdovsky let me play with his children a while and for those brief minutes I had high hopes for the future. I was quiet and charming so they say. But when you gave me that final kiss on the nose I suppose deep down inside I knew my destiny lay among the stars. Alone, in silence, I watched the world spinning round, one thousand miles below. Then on the fourth lap I felt the temperature rise and I suppose I just shut my eyes for a moment. I was only three years old.


“Scratching The Surface does far, far more than the title suggests as Lewis not only holds our whole world in his unswervingly brave hands, but also excavates its secrets and lies so cleverly spun for too long. His often hard-hitting poetry also shares intimate memories, which resonate with grace and passion, while fascinating author notes at the end, further enrich the reader’s experience. This remarkable collection is surely his best, most profound yet, and those who’ve not yet: ‘made the choice that benefits the planet and our place in it rather than continue along this narrow, selfish path to doom,’ will hopefully have pause for thought and be inspired. Bravo!” – Sally Spedding

“Dave Lewis’s latest collection ‘Scratching the Surface’ is an engaging and diverse range of poems. It begins with the long, often rhythmic ‘Rivers’ which gifts the lines with a sort of onomatopoeic authority. It’s almost a metaphor for what follows, a series of well-crafted poems driven by theme and form. There are start of line rhymes (You and I), prose verse (A Dream of Gawain), end of line rhyme (Christmas Dad) and every combination between. The subjects are varied, but this confident poet succeeds in melding them into a coherent and rewarding collection.” – David J Costello

“I have read many of Dave Lewis’ poems, this collection is his absolute masterpiece. Each poem is a microcosm of an experience in Dave’s life – experiences that speak to us all because we can relate to them. The book now lives on my desk, so I can dip into it at odd moments – but then for me that is beauty of poetry – it fills and warms the small pockets of time we have to spare.” – Catrin Collier

“I’ve just finished ‘Scratching The Surface’ for the second time and will probably have to read it again as it is so thick with cultural references, the natural world, folklore and family details. There are poems that deal with the poet’s life-experiences and poems that reference significant moments in history. Also some of the simpler poems like ‘Turkish Chip Shop’ and ‘Sunset Over Penally’ are touching and enjoyable. One or two of the more personal poems make an uneasy transition from private to public experience but there are notes to clarify. Some poems like ‘March 2019’ and ‘Hunchback’ are stunningly sad. You get a lot of mileage for your money here and there are poems to please everyone. Varied, eclectic and dense I would recommend this collection.” – John Short

“Once again Lewis explores mankind’s relationship to his environment, whether that be natural, love, urban or wild. His writing is richly embedded at the confluence of place, space and identity and constantly challenges us to look at the landscape we inhabit and reflect upon it in new ways.” – G. Rees

#1 Amazon Best Seller

During the first week of the book’s launch I got to the prized number one position in two categories and number two in a few others:

Amazon best sellers charts

#1 in Haiku charts

Scratching The Surface in Amazon best seller charts

#1 in African Poetry charts

Amazon best seller charts

#2 in Arthurian charts

Amazon best seller charts

#2 in Postmodernism charts

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Going Off Grid.