After three previous series of pamphlets (check out the archive here) we are thrilled to announce our season four publication with two new pamphlets from Oli Hazzard and Samantha Walton. The pamphlets will be launched on 7th October at 7pm on Zoom. There will be readings from both poets. More information about how to preorder will be announced next week.
Entry is free but Eventbrite registration required for tickets. Register here.
Bad Moon by Samantha Walton:
What’s that sound? A bad moon rising, or a pink one on its way... We were already late to the party, earthbound and dishing our wages to bad clouds whose storage leaked plastics and chemicals in the ocean around us, a sweep of white space, and above us ‘the sun is strobing like a wound’, ‘the moon / a red spot on a burnt-out sky’. This is the nightly drama of Samantha Walton’s ‘Anthropocene camp’, which takes the old moon, that slyly universalising symbol, as a kind of codex for exploding the tragicomedy of ecological thought in this age of intimacy and abjection. Nature here is the writ excess and scarcity of trying to say ‘we’ or ‘our’ in a fragile world, as doors, exits and portals fall out into past and future occurrence. The disaster of exhaustion and the exhaustion of disaster are carefully held in this poetics of inquiry, strategic artifice and discursive sorcery, to ask ‘what about the self / the poem’s dirty secret?’ Better cast some of those ‘stunned white stones’...
Walton’s variegating lines tease like a sonogram of somebody whispering in the sky, ‘not us, not we’ as if to measure breath itself as an act of refusal, in the strangeness of being both ‘warm & distant’. In this paradox of coolness and hyperbole, paring affect, emerges a kind of bastardised combo of new wave and solarpunk: I want to call it lunarwave. This is the gestural blur of apocalypse filter, the lyric data of contemporary techne, cruel optimism, a poetry of chiaroscuro and photographic process. Walton’s work exists at the apex of an environmental noir whose ambience reverberates through deep time, across gravitational fields, whose lyric subjectivity is blemished by ‘the wild sheen of electronics’, ‘oil’ and ‘the empty bones of endlings / filling with microfibres’. If I had to pick the high chanteuse of climate crisis, surely I’d pick Walton, singing the ‘sad wet’ eclipse of a (celestial) body electric, screaming to flaming lawns and the dog whistles of a politics that is ‘far too late for / low & sultry dawn’.
Maria Sledmere, editor-in-chief of SPAM and author of nature sounds without nature sounds.
Bad Moon plants the seeds of awareness that 'it is far too late for metaphors'. The language is the closest I have read in movement to the lift and fall of Old English elegy. That ancient poetry was rich with ruin. Here, a different and utterly contemporary tonal paradox is achieved. This is a book of quiet apocalypse, an elliptical crime story that is also a love story. 'Who killed Nature?' Walton's breathtaking range and precision, from dust to falling stars, earns the much-abused word 'cosmic'. Reading Bad Moon, I slipped into sharing the housework of ecological consciousness, feeling every hopeful or caretaking act at once ordinarily playful and tragically compromised.
Vahni Capildeo, author of Skin Can Hold and Odyssey Calling
Samantha Walton is a poet, editor and academic based in Bristol. Her first collection, Self Heal, was published by Boiler House Press in 2018, and Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure, and The Living World, an ecocritical study of Nan Shepherd, are both coming out from Bloomsbury in 2021. She co-edits Sad Press, a small poetry press, and is interested in omens, sigils, and the end of the world.
PROGRESS: REAL AND IMAGINED by Oli Hazzard
Show us in our own acts that we hear our supplication,” writes John Wheelwright in his poem to Leon Trotsky. See also here—and hear also here—as Oli Hazzard trains his weather eye and his one-of-a-kind ear on the storm we call progress. This is one of the most moving long poems in recent memory by one of my favorite living poets.
Graham Foust, author of Nightingalelessness and Time Down to Mind
Addressed to a certain Johannes (an ‘imaginary figure’? a generic archaic cipher? an amalgam? of Kepler? Vermeer?), progress: real and imagined is at least four things: an account of domesticity (with insights on children, sex, intimacy, labour); an exemplification of linguistic determinism (via a syntax that makes intention and therefore reality negotiable); an ekphrastic response to the Nicole Eisenman painting which gives this poem its title; and a treatise on suspended affect. These things are of course interrelated and inseparable, but the speaker’s ennui is often dominant: ‘For a long time / exhaustion // and its ostentatious display / were a big part // of the work. For a long time’. Communicated through a kind of inverted wonder rather than the usual fixings of male bravado, it’s like listening to a fossilised locust describing, with great specificity and diffidence (‘precise / and inexact at once’), the extended moment of being submerged and set in amber.
Sophie Collins, author of small white monkeys and Who is Mary Sue?
Oli Hazzard has published two books of poems, Between Two Windows (Carcanet, 2012) and Blotter (Carcanet, 2018). He lives in Glasgow and teaches at the University of St Andrews.