Friday, 8 April 2016

What sort of day have you had?

Mr Jolly (collectively) is anything but jolly; he’s a murdering, sarcastic, stalking, marshmallow fetish, monkey/fish obsessed scarecrow that likes to get naked. Except he’s not is he? It’s not even about Mr Jolly. He doesn’t exist.  It’s about loneliness, madness, rejection, transformation, confused lovers, compliance, yearning, farewells and everything that’s normal day that we tread water through. And personal truth. That theme winds its way through all the stories. As does mob mentality, be it bald men or monkeys, could be zombies as far as I’m concerned, at the base of these stories is fear in this ‘spinning ball of sin and dust’.

This collection of short stories could give you a hangover of the human condition. Do you want that? Undress your mind now and open this book then. It's like Stewart ate all the new age books of positivity, then vomited reality checks over it all as a wake up call to sort your shit out. There's no time to even contemplate getting trapped in a corridor with his words as you race through these uncomfortably engaging stories. 

Ever sat on a bus not sure where you’re going or where you came from? This Is Where You Get Off won’t make you feel better about that, but it will make you think about the best stop to get off at next. Or help you avoid ending up where you started, repeating the same emotional journey over and over. Good luck finding the right stop. It’s actually called, in a later story, ‘You’ve got a fucking cheek, haven’t you…’ in big neon lights that say ‘you did alright’. At the end your heart swells a bit about living. Thank God if it's too late. 

Making Contact combines the naked fear you feel as a new parent and strips it down to fucking off in a fight or flight situation.  You feel out of place. You have an identity meltdown, who can you blame? An alien. You could just drive yourself into a truck, sweating in a traffic jam, looking at yourself,  at time and freaking out, as in Mann.  Or get it on with The Man in The White Coat, start putting a TV on your front lawn playing your unravelling mind. How about revisit a childhood haunt, cry about your absent parent, or how you have become one as in You Are Going Back.  Third Person takes yearning to new levels, the last two paragraphs are a killer. It is soaked in the pain of delusional obsession or maybe just bad timing.  There are too many threads to untangle, to "draw you into my web which stretches across space, across time, which I have spun in my mind in order to stop you falling into darkness."

Story Without Meaning would have been my choice for the finale. You can have a pop at God, just don't be left in a limbo of personal untruths.  I loved The Black Man and The White Man but I did think Mr Jolly’s penultimate story engaged the trappings of all the themes more. This collection of stories isn’t a ‘lifter', it’s a headfuck. What sort of day have you had? You know you won’t say.  I loved it for that naked truth.  

This is a book review of Mr Jolly by Michael Stewart. Amazon if you have no conscious or it turns out all the book shops near you only stock the shit you don't want.  xxx

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Gorged on Light: P A Morbid (Red Squirrel Press)

As promised in my last post, I said I would share some great poetry with you. I've been sitting on this for months because I can't bear to rush a poetry review knowing the effort and tears that go into putting a pamphlet together. This collection is like a journey through someone's most painful memories, juxtaposed in apparently no order, the dating and timing of the poems showing how our triggered minds work. One minute we are sitting in 2007, the next 2013, and both will have some relevance to each other, fluidity in relationships that become timeless yet need marking.

The collection starts with 'Comfort':

"Comfort comes from hidden sources
such as light in a window at night,
the soft blur of the curtain's colour
soothing something in you
you weren't aware was hurting."

Monday 23rd of July 2012

This collection of memories, anniversaries, good and difficult, weave together an intensity of feeling that I'm sure must sit close to the poet's heart. It never feels he is writing from outside of himself, maybe I'm wrong, and it's all fictions, in which case how very clever when it feels so raw.

I was captured by the dating of the poems. Anything to do with memories and dates will always do that. Just one page in, there's an untitled poem, a poem of such longing, maybe no title would do it justice, yet still there's a date, "warm and asleep in bed, your naked body a world away from mine."

It is followed by 'Summer 1984':

"Two am and the allotments slumber
under a sweaty summer overcast

the bonfires smouldering long into the night
producing a smoke that is more taste than smell"

Saturday 15 of October 2011

More 'untitled' poems hint at what's to come. An insomniac level of numbing, tired loneliness put into words of mixed, terrifying emotion.

"More tired than when I went to sleep last night'. the 'empty silence' of a day left speechless 'in a town I no longer recognize' leads heart heavily on to a poem called 'Emptiness'. The pain of this depression almost impressed by a time 18:46 

You think the times are recorded in some kind of homage to the difficult years of 2007/9 and then one is noted in 'Downer' much later:

"On Sunderland RD, just past the library,
a young boy and girl, both on the brink of their teenage
kick high on the swings of the rundown playground.

The sight of them fills me with sadness."

13:10 Thursday 17th of April 2014

It was here I realised I'd been distracted by the times and dates and re-read the words without trying to put a structure on it, thinking more how memories meander back and forth on a chaotic timeline with varying sharpness depending on your happiness, frustration, misery, excitement and the way words form around that elegant disorder in your mind.

'Pre-Coital' and 'Wedding Poem' see a shift to a political yet still personal:

"And I must thank this
shallow and evil government
we've been saddled with
for waking me from my isolation
and giving me
a sense of my position in the world" to

"That we were joined together
not as an office worker
or self-employed man.
But as an Artist and a Poet.
That this is a small victory
no one can ever take away from us."

'The Cold Outer Edge of the Day' through to 'Timeless' are my favourites in this collection. The longing to be with someone, the torture you put yourself through, the fragility of seeing that person and your 'want' in the every day, the "steam rising from the coffee by my side" to the "uncertain blue of the sky":

"As slow and as painful as this crush I'm enduring" (here) to the

"the thud of feet past my door that are never yours". (silence)

It's with a relief that you read (from one breath to the next)

"It's never easy to fall out of love with someone,
but I've fallen out of love with you"  the sheer breath of freedom as you wake and have no hunger to see or think of that person again.

The collection ends on the title poem 'Gorged On Light':

"...words rush like a river from his pen, filling the page" which feels like a completion on so many levels with this work. I highly recommend it you like to read about the tormented human condition; Morbid's words are dark, haunting and poignant.

Buy from Red Squirrel Press: £6.00

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