I'm happy to say my next poetry collection will be out with Kingston University Press this summer. The Wrestlers brings together poems written over the last five years but finds it origin in a commission I was lucky enough to do for Tate Britain online, thanks to Sarah Victoria Turner - a suite of poems responding to Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's eponymous relief and the nine consequent copies.
In a sense these poems, when I wrote them in 2011 and 2012 were a pivotal moment in my writing, a rejection / acceptance of Poundian modernism. Moreover they were about wrestling itself, something that was the primary activity of my childhood and teenage life, as well as the relief, and written upon request, that felt / feel strangely autobiographical (though you wouldn't be able to tell that by reading them).
I've revised these and then added many other works where wrestling has become an action verb in the mechanics of the poems, often just in the title. In a sense wrestling becomes a concept of imposition that acts like a dialectic between ideas or opinions.
Like my last book, The Guide to Being Bear Aware, I think The Wrestlers is pretty traditionally poetry, its literary, because like my last book, it has come into existence while, organically, I have found other mediums to be the place of my experiments, like in art books, theatre or performance. So my natural instincts have changed too, in poetry, something I'm glad about, to always be changing tastes. If it was those European poets of the post-war new lyric tradition looming over me for my last book, now I'd say it has been a revisitations to pre-war poets which have influenced me. Mallarme, Mayakovsky, Apollinaire, Wat, Cummings have become ghosts in my new book, a bit. Reading them again, seriously, for a second or third time has of course disturbed some bones in my own work.
The book will have a London launch on June 30th at Rich Mix with other readings to follow.
Poems in the collection have been previously published, in one form or another, by Gorse Magazine, Test Centre magazine, 3am magazine, The Wolf, Poems in Which, The Honest Ulsterman, The Bohemyth, Wazogate and the anthologies The Long White Thread: poems for John Berger (Smokestack Books), The Other Room 4, Millets (Zeno Press), Dear World and Everything In It (Bloodaxe Books), Hwaet: Ledbury Poetry Festival (Bloodaxe Books) and Shifting Ground (J&L Gibbons). It also features the suite Poems in which César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza wrestles Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (Pablo Neruda) which was commissioned by The Hay Festival : Arequipa, Peru in 2016 and a number of the poems in were created as part of The Green Infrastructure – a residency with landscape architects J&L Gibbons.