Join us as we welcome two of London's most exciting poets to the shop to read from their recent collections
A K Blakemore
‘never say / the best of summer’s gone’, the poem asks, a plea for permanence that sustains throughout Fondue, the second collection by A. K. Blakemore. In these louche, candid poems, bearing the marks of Mary Ruefle, Emily Dickinson and The Smiths, the inner life prowls, smoking a cigarette, as the fantasies of sex and violence are allowed to play out in the subjugations that have long been the poet’s concerns. Here they are exposed, interrogated, attacked and cauterised with a fierce melancholy. In Fondue, the prototypes of personal history and regret – ex-lovers and friends, snatched and startling nights of intimacy and rage – are pinned by the investigative presence of Blakemore’s syntax and semantic reach. Here are romances – for places, for people, for the self – voiced with doubt and survival. These lines understand their power to manipulate: ‘this is a poem about my mouth / intended to draw attention / to my mouth’, the title poem instructs. This is what I like; this is what I don’t like – ‘i want you / like a scorpion down my shirt’; ‘i wanted to show it to you’; ‘i want you to describe the pain’ – there is a plaintive charisma in the ability to ask for the things a body needs, as well as the things it needs to understand about other bodies in order to coexist. For all of Blakemore’s defiance, the savagery and storm, this world holds a prismatic, surprising beauty; the beauty of rain-washed streets, of comedown mornings, of the potential for tenderness in the brutality of love and play. The poet who can strike so fiercely at the times when ‘truth is just a sharp thing you stand on in the night’ can also conclude ‘but god i love the world. the things you do’. Tigerish, impetuous, exacting and never self-pitying, Blakemore’s new collection reaffirms her place on the barricades.
In this intimate and vital debut, Richard Scott creates an uncompromising portrait of love and gay shame. Examining how trauma becomes a part of the language we use, Scott takes us back to our roots: childhood incidents, the violence our scars betray, forgotten forebears and histories. The hungers of sexual encounters are underscored by the risks that threaten when we give ourselves to or accept another. But the poems celebrate joy and tenderness, too, as in a sequence re-imagining the love poetry of Verlaine.
The collection crescendos to Scott's tour de force, 'Oh My Soho!', where a night stroll under the street lamps of Soho Square becomes a search for true lineage, a reclamation of stolen ancestors, hope for healing, and, above all, the finding of our truest selves.
Richard Scott was born in London in 1981. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Poetry London, Swimmers, The Poetry of Sex (Penguin) and Butt Magazine. He has been a winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, a Jerwood/Arvon Poetry Mentee and a member of the Aldeburgh 8. His pamphlet Wound, published by Rialto, won the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2016. His debut collection, Soho, was published in 2018 by Faber & Faber.