The Last Custodian by Stephen Lightbown


  • Image of The Last Custodian by Stephen Lightbown
  • Image of The Last Custodian by Stephen Lightbown

‘A compelling and formally inventive collection of poems that is also a sweeping story. Stephen Lightbown’s The Last Custodian chronicles crisis, and questions our ideas of memory, survival. Coming, as it does, in this moment of global pandemic, The Last Custodian will touch many a reader with its unrelenting, questioning, echoing voice. A moving, inimitable book.’ - Ilya Kaminsky

A paraplegic wakes to find he is the sole survivor of an unknown apocalypse. He decides to survive and spends a year navigating the empty motorways of England to see if he really is the only one left alive. He sets off with only his wheelchair and enough food and medical supplies to last a week. To live beyond that he must adapt and scavenge. Told through a daily account of poems he begins to question his own identity, whether you are disabled if there is no-one to be compared to and what does it mean to want to move forwards.'


Stephen Lightbown is a Blackburn-born, Bristol-based poet and disability rights champion. Paralysed following an accident in 1996 when he was sixteen, Stephen uses his poems to give a voice to his disability. He has spoken at events across the UK and at festivals such as Shambala, WOMAD, Verve Poetry Festival and Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival. In addition, Stephen has read internationally in San Antonio, Texas. His poems have been widely anthologised, and The Last Custodian is his second poetry collection.