Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

city poems, Mia KangThe jacket has the characteristic format of ignition press, with a wide vertical stripe of colour to the left -- in this case orange. To the right two thirds of the jacket is black. On the black part there are flying shapes. Four solid triangles in shades of yellow and orange. Two diamond outlines, one of which crosses between black and orange bands. One yellow triangle also crosses the divide. The title and author's name, entirely lower case, are in white and right justified on the black area bottom right hand corner. The collection title is bigger than the author's name but neither is huge.

Ignition Press, 2020  £5.00

Urban play

Mia Kang writes slippery poems which often mock contemporary poetry’s seriousness. This is refreshing amongst waves of political earnestness and feverish virtue begetting. ‘The Blind Leading the Blind’, for example, begins:

I lack
the libido to write city

poems, writes Cam, and he professes
to like New Haven, smiling up

at the architectural
pastiche

There is a winning self-consciousness here which is both dryly ironic and does the sort of perspectival backflip that invites you to adjust your reading specs and re-ponder the poem’s semantics.

The writing feels casually detached, as if the poet can’t really be bothered to be a poet, reflecting perhaps the analyse-the-text-to-death methods inherent to English Literature classes — a feeling especially reinforced in ‘Univers/ity Poetics’, with its taking-the-piss-out-of-pretentious-punctuation title:

I have told ten undergraduates
To properly signpost their topic sentences

For which I was paid
Twenty-three dollars an hour

and later...

I feel I must signpost entitlement
In the title of the poem, naming

What I have not named before
My friends, how much have I left

To the text, what is my
position or argument, or are those

Coterminous, but didn’t identity
Politics fail us already

What I loved was how Kang’s city poems highlights the dangers of being heartfelt and literary. The poet reminds us that sometimes Creative Writing classes are just someone’s job.

Nell Prince