Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Endorse me, you cowards! Ross McClearyThe jacket is white, which graphics and text in blue. THe graphic shows a briefcase with the lid open on the right hand side of the bottom half of the jacket. Inside the brief case is a maze. Coming out of the briefcase at a curved angle, like music, is the title of the pamphlet on two lines. The lines are in bold uneven caps. Below them, also at a curved angle, is the author's name in regular lowercase font, quite small.

Stewed Rhubarb Press, 2019   £5.99

Comedy and tragedy in the workplace

Not many pamphlets that have a Contents page that makes a poem in itself. Here are the first few lines:

                                                       A Business-of one  1
10 Things Recruiters Look for in your LinkedIn Profile  3
                                  Making Recruiters Come to You  4
              10 Things to Never, Ever Say at an Interview  5

How could you not want to read on? You can tell from the scream in the pamphlet’s title how Ross McCleary ruthlessly exploits the language of business and (de)motivation. I closed my Linked-In account because I was so sick of endorsing people or wondering why they weren’t endorsing me. The world of business is mad. I can relate to the scream. 

These are performance pieces. They thrive on repetition and the high drama of over-statement, repetition and good traditional Scottish comedy.

Number 4 in ’10 Things to Never, Ever Say at an Interview’, for example, reminded me of a timeless Rikki Fulton sketch, one of the the Rev I. M. Jolly’s – ‘This water is really good. Where did you get it?’

It’s the sort of pamphlet you might buy as a gift for a friend who was monumentally disenchanted with the workplace (or the lack of a job). Just occasionally the humour is uncomfortably close to painful truth, but then so was the Rev. I.M. Jolly. Comedy and tragedy are not a million miles apart.

 In ’10 Signs Your Manager is Planning to Replace You’, for example, number seven is ‘You ache but you can’t put a finger on why’. And the very last one of the ten signs is a mixture of exaggeration and genuine nightmare. I’ve felt like this.

So I’ll leave you with this chilling reminder of just how bad it can be. Laugh if you dare!

At night, the mistakes you once buried emerge from the soil, crawl across the land, and slip into your house. They slip onto your bed as you sleep, curl around your legs, wrap themselves around your body and squeeze. When you wake, they are gone, but the feeling of tightness doesn’t leave you.

Helena Nelson