Friday, March 25, 2011

Heroin Love Songs

Delighted to have five up at Heroin Love Songs. It's a wonderful zine and here are the poems.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gillian Prew - Disconnections

chapbook by Gillian Prew
erbacce press

This new chapbook by Gillian Prew is outrageously good. Prew takes the most depressing of subject matter and puts her life in it by writing a new angel into the darkness and mourning. The series is disconnectedness, the lack of connection. The problem of modern man is an ontological sense of missing autochthonousness and belonging deeper than the trivial Sartrean Lack.

Flat, lungless: all is image,
else it is forgotten

like most memories, and remembrance
mostly a betrayal anyway.

sets the pace for a collection that explores the pointless splashes of existence we drop into the darkness

The lifted moment of the indelible; the mortal tattoo
that visits the eyes and the foul shine of yesterday’s stars.

Meaning rests a fathom below the surface, and I flotsam
on strange days breathing like the leaf on a small flower.

All without point or meaning in the fundamental sense of purpose, meaning just the pointless dance of the arbitrary spread of the seed, dull dissemination that leads nowhere.

The book ends fittingly, with as touch almost of female vanity as the last drop in the bucket of nothingness, and yet a consolation


I like my skin - its mild caramel in winter;
a summer tint that resists a cold mistake.
It speaks with the tongue of the wilderness
and does not hide from the ruins. The alarm
is that there will be too much to hate: a time
when my eyes might collapse like new mourners
at the first realisation of the graveside.

This is the positive message dropped at the end, the body has good bits, and the writer too does not need to hide from the fragments Prew is shoring here against her ruins (being thoroughly modern I am referring to Natalie Merchant here, not any dead poet).

The book is a series of poems that runs through images of the dust and decay waiting us to wind up here, the bone we should not disdain, the depressing affection for decay and death. Life sucks and there's nothing wrong with it, says Prew. I agree. But the message isn't much when it comes to poems, the words are what counts. As I have said before, and as I shall say again, even to the point of frankly nagging, Prew is the best living poet. Get the book here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

another book update

Another update on books: as I have repeatedly rambled on about, Heavy Hands Ink have published a chapbook by me, puppies and monks and medieval memories on the 11th March this year. This is available as a free download as well as a paper book from Lulu by the simple expedient of clicking on this sentence. There are a couple of really generous reviews already, and both of these are linked over to the right. I'm pretty pleased by this book, and hope you buy the thing, but if you are poor then by all means grab the free version and don't bother to use money that you might need for nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, drugs and whatever else people like to buy.

According to some people, probably the best book available by me is Cadaver's dance. It's available at Amazon and there is a review up at Amazon by Barbara Moore, also a review by Rachel Kendall at Sein und Werden here. Most who have read more than one of the books available prefer this one.

There's also pushing lemmings at Erbacce, full length number two and also pretty good. See the reviews linked to the right. Nobody, as far as I know, considers this the best of mine, not even me. Maybe nobody read it yet. You can be the first!

The third one is laughing at funerals which is available from epic rites press. There will be a new distributor for that soon but now it's $20 including postage to the USA and Canada, $25.50 to Europe. There are also reviews of that linked to the right; it's pretty good too and some people think that this is the best available of my books.

There are other chapbooks linked to the right as well. It looks like the Pinhead-inspired chapbook Hellbound is still available at epic rites too. Go for it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review by Dom Gabrielli

Hugely pleased by the below, a review I just received from the talented Dom Gabrielli. Check out his site here and buy some of his work too.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here or reading Puppies and Monks and Medieval Memories by David McLean

'Hope is a knave befools us evermore,
Which till I lost no happiness was mine.'

(Pascal translated by Beckett)

David McLean's Puppies and Monks and Medieval Memories is another beautifully obscene and intricately chiseled slab of virtual stone hurled with insouciance and sweet maliciousness into the stain-glass windows of political quietude and collective hope. A strange verse, granted, but one whose potent iconoclastic matter melds into delightful cadence, whose lilting mellowness is the sucker punch, contradicting the poison in his message, flawing the best of us with carcinogenic energy.

The McLean machine runs in a world of icy isolation, with a scenery of snowy lakes and boats and puppies. A slightly chill assemblage where words flow unencumbered. Here in frozen time, the poet meditates with a smile as long as a nearby fjord, as he sprinkles venomous drops of intelligence on the roots of arborescent ridiculousness. 'There is so much to defile under this pasty sun.'

what the old thief and killer knew,
rolling his stone through empty eternities,
was that he was actually living a very short life,
and nothing mattered much, not really,
so he didn’t care for anything,
didn’t ask for forgiveness,
for this was always meaningless,
where there can never be a sin
or a wrong, nothing to regret
where every pretended obligation
is forgotten
and nonsense.

he was part of me, basically, like everything
i see, like the starry night sky,
like the whole of reality.
he knew that, too, and he knew
nothing lasts. he knew this all stops forever
and that he was radically nothing, like all of us.
for that makes it so much better –
we are total losers, and soon dead
our nothingness shall be forever.
we are frauds like life the psychotic
murderer, pretending everything,
being nothing, that’s why he loved it -

(what Sisyphus understood)

Bernardo Soares, a lonely heteronym of the giant Pessoa, claimed that certain sunsets moved him more than the deaths of children. It's that messed up of course, and children sadly injure themselves with hope and other dangerous blades. Evolution is a long haul to the present asylum. Here, the close to 'nothing relevant:'

there was a fish once that crawled out

from sea to sand, he was the one
that invented madmen,
he it was who filled this populous hell
with all of us devils.

we walk here in shirts as if night were
here, as if everything were already forgiven;
as if history had returned, and we were free
of guilt, timeless medieval children

The sun shone far too much in 2010 to hide the glare of the human psychosis which nothing can save, certainly not expletives, 'fuck it' being 'just another two words'. Destinies however have lessons to impart. We have already met Sisyphus, now it is 1934 and here's Genet in Andalusia. The French poet misfit's determination for revenge finds himself a slightly reluctant admirer:

i might have wanted to be Genet in Andalusia
in 1934, though i never saw love like a spun ray
of light fall between two friends, just the utility
they raped from each other, like the gross black

prick with which Genet consoled his self,
his dusty identity shrugged over his humble
struggling shoulders like an old man’s gray coat.
i might have dreamed as he, though men are nothing

to me; the tattered flags he draped over them
are clumsy as the abandoned bodies of children
no souls lived in. but i admire his decisiveness –
the choice to isolate his ancient heart in young

nothing, to drag that despite over him, cozy
as a cloak. and love them as revenge
forever. his vision of corruption he swam in
as a chosen lake of conspicuous innocence

and deviance. and the old hags wagging fingers,
he loved them and would have dribbled
his spit as absolution over his sluttish
mother. all the pussy he never pounded,

though passion was possibly more violent
in the arms of some more ambitious
murderer. i can almost remember the beaches
and the long dead sailors, misery in their

fingers. they must have sung once, i suppose,
and between people all he could see was love;
for decay smells sweeter in the next grave:
and the dusty young man, unwholesome

under the wholesome Spanish hills –
his legacy remains

(Genet in Andalusia)

A marvelous poem, as many are in this volume. Precarious sense, on the edge, but never falling, staggering, almost toppling, but ultimately staying on the surface, crystal layers of Swedish ice. The inherent multiplicity of this style resists interpretation. Deleuze praised the aphoristic style for this very reason, because it needed to be experimented, that it needed, following Nietzsche 'rumination. McLean's is aphoristic poetry. The reader needs to chew the cud. Just as the writer needs to write like grass.

In McLean's anti-psychology, our composite, necessarily plural identities are colonised by zombies and mutants and maniacs, perhaps because death lives within us and we in turn try to hide ourselves within death. Reason we know dreams up monsters and McLean is ready to pounce on the frailties and crazy delusions of rationality. Identity thus charted is a strange geometrical mess, where death somehow precedes a history which 'tends to come to an inconclusive end.' Humans deny this somewhat awkward state of affairs and in despair turn to chainsaws for solace. But zombies aren't all bad, wound up as they are in schizophrenic affects, for identity itself in its so-called normal manifestations is pretty horrid.

a zombie sits dead between us on the sofa,
between each instant. at one point
i shot him in the head with memories,
and his jaw hangs even deader
than the rest of him, deadest maybe
because of this – dead
as a telephone and twice
as hopeless;

i hope he records what we say to him,
some place where he displaces
anxiety in me. he is all my dead
forever, and hangs hopeless
his lovely eternity. profane
decay, baby, this zombie, he
sits dead between us on the sofa –

i hope he remembers me,
our arrogant eternity

(a zombie sits)

Interesting to compare Auden's Lullaby with McLean's pastiche lullaby. Here are the two first verses head to head:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

(Lullaby) Auden

come rest your fleshless head, my death,
immortal on my cancerous arm.
life and living beseech clothed bone, homeless
in a minute's meat, but our grave shall prove
Cadaver's truth, through every coldest eternity,
blood be but memory in me. so in my loveless
zombie clutch, let your stinking carcass lie,
till no undeath shall rape us awake
to some terrible telos in resurrected life.

(lullaby) for Auden

Our atrocious and hilarious times have no time for tidy lines and capitals and whilst Auden's Lullaby is already deconstructing the classical 'amour a deux' in favour of a love beyond the couple, McLean wreaks any hope of love without serious lashes of irony and caustic humour. Beckett's malicious translation of Pascal wisely reminds us that hope has a lot to answer for and that Dante's paradise is no better than hell and that happiness strangely, simply, comes once hope in its illusory sexy corpse is abandoned forever. Abandon hope and undeath can be fun, particularly wandering through the history of thought with some playful puppies and a copy of Puppies and Monks and Medieval Memories but don't download it, buy it. Everyone needs a pet zombie in their caravan.

Dom Gabrielli, 19 March 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review by Gillian Prew

Hugely delighted that Gillian Prew, one of the absolutely best poets herself, has been kind enough to review my new chapbook puppies & monks & medieval memories. Her review is at her blog at this link.

The chapbook is available here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Symmetry Pebbles

There's an excellent new zine called Symmetry Pebbles. One by me will be up there tomorrow. Check them out.

EDIT: posted now, it being tomorrow today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Clockwise Cat

It being spring soon, the spring issue of Clockwise Cat is due soon, this will include reviews by me and some poems by me. It's one of the few zines to which I often submit. Check out me in the pussy here.

Gillian Prew - In the Broken Things

Here comes a review of Gillian's forthcoming chapbook from Virgogray Press. It totally kicks ass.

Gillian Prew

in the broken things
Virgogray Press
chapbook review

The years are collecting themselves into a lifetime.
How they misbehave. But they have learned
enough, and that is probably love.
(abstract 15, p 41)

These last lines in the book in many ways summarize a large thread in Gillian Prew's work. She is probably the foremost female poet (or poet tout court) currently active, in the sense of being the best, the most verbally agile, articulate and quietly spectacular. Her work recently - apart from summarizing responses to loss, ageing, the general disgraceful temporal process to which desiring bodies are subjected, the loss of desire and eternally temporary presence of absence – has seemed to point at a reconciliation with all the nasty existentialia that define our vile predicament.

The lines just before these explain her advantage over anybody who does not put poetry first:

Inside, my incoherencies choose poetry over analysis
translating the confused to the written, and each word
sodden with willingness, the need

to make contact with another surface.
(loc. cit.)

Prew uses, she tells us, poetry to do what Derrida tells us that poetry does or should or can do, in the two Istrice articles, to present nostalgia for wholeness and presence and completion in an understandable form, to express our longing for the fragments of our (probably confabulated) memory that fall away into the void of uninteresting history without actually resorting to the drooling idiocies of the lyrically religious. Whether or not I am making Derrida essentialize here, when Gillian Prew makes a reality of a feeling or a moment she makes poetry in the sense that Larkin or Plath do. It is a glorious proof that the lyrical impulse is not dependent upon the bad faith and cowardice that talks of religion or of the slipshod spiritual.

The book concludes with fifteen “abstracts”. These are what one gathers from the name.

The philosophers have answers
but no Answer.

The poets have only poems
and questions

...and sometimes that is enough.
(abstract 10, p 36)

In a sense Prew's opinion expressed here is defensible, if disingenuous. There is no Answer because life is not posing a question, it is just “given” - the questions of poets are generally the dull maintenance work of the idle stream of Gerede. I think it was Quine, swinging wildly from the continent to Anglo-Saxon intellectual climes, who tells us that asking for the meaning of life implies that you really haven't understood what life is.

But she knows this better than anyone:

Read books is all I can say: it curtails the anguish
or at least makes it seem familiar.

I will mention love here. It does not make one ounce
of difference in the end, but it exists in the desert, in
the wing, in the written word, in the broken things.
(abstract 3, p 27)

It's as though she is adopting the coziness of poetry and literature as a relinquishing of stringency, although her voice is not cozy, does not reconcile in any light or easy way. The abstracts carry this sense of a lack of obvious palliative, but even more so the first series that opens the book, the dream poems.

These range from dreams of the natural and a “dream caused by the adjacency of love,” ending

Love is not dead horses. Love is
the moment of waking
and not quite knowing.

Love is the death of surety.
(p 15)

to a more typical collection of dreams built around themes of death, cessation, mortality.

There is a broken story in this land.
It is called History. It is written
that the birds have ragged beaks
because a smooth edge is impossible

that they fly to mock the sorry men
of the plains who pray for wings, who
exist in the shadow of gravity
moored by inherited ideology.
(dream caused by the homogeny of states. p. 7)

Prew is “swollen by the need to speak” because even the most beautiful aesthetics still makes the landscape pretty fucking desolate, because there is this flicker of life a while and the honest conviction in every rational mind that that's all there is to it. Science and empirical history is a great inductive list of everything with the obvious and surely correct concealed premise “and that's all there is.” But it needs capturing, it needs loving. And a poetry with its religious roots ripped out is perfect for doing that. Sadly, nowadays, most writers aren't doing that. But Gillian Prew is, along with a very few others, and she does it so well that she fills the intellectual gap very adequately.

I’m piling on summer in thick layers of heat
a yellow chrysalis on the edge of a cliff

my mother is a clatter in a metal box

& there is no one else. there is no one
to unfurl my wings, colour them
into flight. I feel
they are too thin to accommodate the air
too fragile for movement. too dull
for magic
(dream caused by being a child, p4)

Nobody does it better. This book is absolutely first rate, and I can totally recommend it to anybody who isn't dead inside yet.

Why vandalism?

I have no idea why i missed this, but there are two poems by me in the 2010 version of Why vandalism, there two start here. It's another great zine making a comeback, so check them out and submit if you have some poems for them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Journal of Heroin Love Songs

This is a reminder that Jack Henry's marvelous Journal of Heroin Love Songs is revitalized and running again, and that guidelines are posted here. Do submit to HLS so there will be some company for the five poems by me coming in the next issue. Apart from me I'm pretty sure that the great Puma Perl will be there, and probably Jack under an unimaginative pseudonym.

Don't forget to get Jack's book crunked in May 2011. And it's always possible to get yourself a copy of Puma Perl's Knuckle Tattoos, which you can get now at the Amazon link or at Erbacce.

I reviewed Puma somewhere before and I've read both hers and crunked to unofficially edit and nicen up the spelling etc. These are both marvelous books. Buying these is almost as morally praiseworthy as buying mine.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Whistling Fire

As promised a couple of things up at Whistling Fire courtesy of their current guest editor, the great Jack Henry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pink-Eye Lemonade

Pleased to say that work by me will be in the summer issue of Pink-Eye Lemonade. It's a great zine that you can read at the link. Check them out.