man is free, p. a. morbidThis is a photo of the pamphlet lying on a wooden surface. The jacket is white and most of it's taken up with a colour drawing done roughly, like a doodle really. It's a cartoon. It is a rough drawing of a room with table, chair and window. There's a meal on the table (maybe sausages on the plate), and the cutlery standing up vertically. There is a face with clenched teeth and tears dropping onto the table like two lines of black hyphens. Words above the head in scribbly unclear caps say: THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE MEAL. The author's name in pink lower case (same colour as the carpet) appears in the middle of the jacket left-justified, with the pamphlet title just below. An inch from the bottom on bold lower case is the title of the press: The Black Light Engine Room Press.

The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2019   £5.00

Is man ever truly free?

man is free is published by p. a. morbid’s own imprint (he runs the Black Light Engine Room events) and is printed on good quality cream paper. The author is also responsible for the cover drawing, the inner drawings and the page-filling logo on the back cover. His biography on the inside of the front cover describes him as a poet (he also writes prose), an outsider artist (without formal training) and musician.

The pamphlet consists of two halves, the first half, ‘Dutch Interior’ being new poems which are characteristically short. The second half, ‘down-time’, is a collection of prose poems about his acknowledgment of being an alcoholic and addressing the issue.

The poet also has a reputation for accurately dating his poems with a statement such as ‘Published on Saturday 26th October 2019’ and this is true of the poems in ‘Dutch Interior’.

The new work in ‘Dutch Interior’ is dynamic but it’s the ‘down-time’ poems that draw me in, shake me by the throat and make me sit up in order to read them again.

The device that interests me most is the way the poet uses poem titles to demonstrate how his journey is progressing, or at times, sadly stalling. He uses ‘The Abyss’ six times, ‘the golden light’ five times and ‘Flagging’ four times. I haven’t seen this done before. It’s a clever and arresting way to update the reader of his struggle. Here's one of the 'golden light' poems: 

Sometimes when you’re drinking your body isn’t heavy, but something
light and joyous. There’s a state of grace you can only reach through
alcohol. Returning to the sober world is always a lurch, smooth though
the transition can be at times. But the Light is no longer there. 

p. a. morbid doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve here. He’s brutally honest — and inspirational. A copy of this publication should be in every AA group meeting in the world.

Sheila Wakefield