The English Funerals – Chris McCully
The English Funerals is a collection of ten-line prose poems which embody an exploration of ‘epic’ verse. Each poem is a tile, itself representing an epic fragment, juxtaposed with other tiles which themselves yield another story – another fragment of the epic whole – a disconcerting geography, whose voices and histories are present only briefly on the rim of extinction.
[Happenstance:] – Duncan MacKay
What happens happens, whether it’s the political madness of 2016 when most of these poems were written, or the way the words fall (or fail to fall) on to the page. If anything, [Happenstance:] is a journal; if anything else, it’s a random mix of action and reflection. As Charles Bernstein puts it: “the poem said in any other way is not the poem.” So it is with [Happenstance:] in which, in the words of ‘Sit Crooked Think Straight’: “writing follows its own bloodied nose.
A Belfast Childhood explores the form invented by Joe Brainard in his book I Remember, and taken up by Georges Perec in France. Here the form is subject to an additional constraint, which emerges from the title: the first 26 memories are arranged alphabetically; subsequently, the alphabetical entries are permutated according to a sestina of order 26.
Bettbehandlung is a feminist re-visioning of historical and medical treatments of ‘hysterical’ female subjects and performative spaces of illness. It focuses on historical acts of diagnosis and the shifting of bodily propriety, alongside issues of dependency and witnessing.
After the Paris attacks, the migration crisis, the Brexit vote, the election of Trump and installation of May, and war in Syria, one question might be how have these events changed what is meant by public and private space. Perhaps something as ‘useless’ as poetry could open a space from where answers might appear. Some Municipal Love Poems comprises two sequences, ‘General Purpose Love Poems’ and ‘Song Book: Series of Songs’, the former a sequence of long essay-like poems and the latter, shorter song-like poems, which form new spaces, public and private, as call and response, as spaces to think in and with.