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Bad Moon, Samantha Walton

Publication date: 7th October 2020.

Cover design by Max Parnell and Maria Sledmere.



Praise for Bad Moon:

‘an experiment in ecological gothic, from someone who’s too self-conscious to cast spells’...


Bad Moon is a shimmering and vital pamphlet for our current times. Walton's poems are like flares in the darkness - sharp and electrifying.

- Mary Jean Chan, author of Flèche


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


Bad Moon, Samantha Walton

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