Blood. Flower. Joy!
Sweet Ladies, Good Morning! Speak of Wickedness. Wonderful Western Future. Comfort. A Season in Neo-liberal Heaven. Stars like Seeds and Swine will Fall. 42 Socialist Feminist Horoscopes. Away My Grievance. Talk. Ho! What Fiend Squatteth There? Bloody Wheat and Sweet Mercy. Practical Sunshine Witchcraft. Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Mothers of All Question. Many Marigold Salads. Sister Sorrow What
Sing You? Poems. Lyrics. Songs. A Sequence.
My second collection Blood. Flower. Joy! (plus an excessively long subtitle) is a sequence of short lyrics. It will be published in 2019 by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press and, subject to a successful funding bid to Arts Council England, poems from this collection will feature as part of the Blackpool Illuminations this year. Poems from Blood. Flower. Joy! have been published in Adjacent Pineapple, And Other Poems and Datableed. An earlier version of this project titled Away My Grievance won the 2018 Ivan Juritz Prize.
About this project
Work on this project began after the completion of the manuscript for my first collection, Sphinx; most of the poems in Sphinx had been produced in a very taxing way, under high pressure to achieve an exactness and magnitude which would do justice to the subject matter. Grueling might describe it. Not only was this draining (both of energy and joy) but attempts at writing post-Sphinx became sclerotic and anxious. Blood. Flower. Joy! was intended as a sort of antidote to the figurative wounds left by the labor of Sphinx. The mental procedure of writing it was far freer, as is the style.
The lyrics in this sequence are fun. They explore the comic and strange. Many poems in the sequence are attempts at magical voicing, ritualistic addresses which seem to possess magical action in themselves. They are positioned so as to offer themselves for re-voicing, as spells and rhymes and axioms are, and in that way they may both incorporate me the writing subject (the personal) and dissolve/expand/enlarge me (the communal). The poems are anti-individualist, ameliorative, socialist, a means of getting out of myself in order to get back in as something better.
The sequence responds to a certain set of critical claims on the lyric subject; it represents action taken on Sean Bonney’s statement ‘whether it’s the avant-garde writing subjectivity out of poetry, or international capitalism denying realities that exist outside of their version of reality, it’s to be resisted’. Subjectivities are necessary, not subjectivities which pose as the individualistic index of all meaning, not so-called anti- or post- subjectivities, but subjectivities which give voice to struggle and solidarity in struggle. There’s no reason why this cannot be a joyful voicing. The sequence attempts a recouping of the fallen lyric subject to make her once more fit for purpose; it is set up as the playful voicing of what can be none other than an individual subject, but with one ear to the public language from which its voice is derived and the other poised to hear its voice in the mouth of another and be recognised. The individual is given less as the index of meaning and more as a node in a dynamic and enormous field of voicing. Accordingly, the attitude of the sequence is generous and cheeky. Read extracts below.
Nobody should experience anything they don’t need to, if they don’t need poetry bully for them. I like the movies too.
Frank O' Hara