Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Killing the Cop in Your Head, R.K.Background colour is cream. The title is in lower case black print about two inches down and left justified. It splits as follows: Killing the Cop / in Your Head. Below this there is a coloured image of a skeletal hand reaching across the page from right to left with a loose sleeve flowing over the wrist and down the page in a kind of triangular shape. The author's name,which is only two intitials each followed by a full stop, is in small caps and located in line with the title, also left justified and positioned in line with the bottom of the sleeve/

Sad Press, 2016  Cover unpriced

Worrying about poetry, with or without greebling

The author of this pamphlet is worried about poetry (not least the work of a central character, Sophie) but also about validation (applause), culture in general, and the distribution of wealth and power.

The publication has two parts. First, there’s ‘Killing the Cop in your Head’, a set of 12 short texts that look poem-ish. The second section, ‘Inoculation’, is a prose narrative involving poets (including and especially Sophie) and poetry readings, followed by ‘Note on Inoculation’, which purports to be an evaluative discussion of ‘Inoculation’ and its intentions.

All of this is complicatedly entertaining.

I was much amused by certain parts, though I think the central purpose is more than just amusement. The cop in the head could be a left-wing anarchist reference, or as I prefer to think, a way of talking about what Ann Sansom calls your ‘inner editor’, the part of the brain that prevents originality by editing your writing into respectability before it gets onto the page.

But un-editing as you go along is impracticable. R.K. points out as his coup de grace that ‘There is no emendation enough for complete unwrite’, though he does, earlier, offer an image of a burning room, created and immolated by the reader, and this comes interestingly close.

To read the publication is to want to know more about the author: the who, the why, the where next. But no use writing a standard review. Instead I’m quoting a few engaging soupçons, since this is all you’ll get. The publication is sold out, and though I could lend you my copy, I’ve written all over it. I do feel for Sophie and Niamh. Many poets don't have any greebling these days.

‘Imagine an artwork that conscripts its audience and forces them to return to it again and again and wants them to understand the whole world through it. It burdens them with an interpretive and imaginative labour when fuck that.’ [‘Killing the Cop in your Head’]

‘ [ ... ] every attempt to pin yourself down is actually an additional onion-layering of armour. The last thing to be is right, if ever.’ [‘Inoculation’]

‘Thing about Sophie’s poetry is that it doesn’t have any greebling, and it doesn’t risk anything.’ [‘Inoculation’]

‘Niamh contemplated briefly her praxis-kilter. It was no doubt off, but she always saw herself as easily recalibrated.’ [‘Inoculation’]

‘Poetry takes effort.’ [‘Note on Inoculation’]

‘The person from Porlock here is other poets, but they’ve burst in yelling this is crap.’ [‘Note on Inoculation’]

Helena Nelson