auto producer, Robert BurtonThe jacket is black and white. There is a broad black horizontal band across the top two inches or so. Inside this, first the title, then below this the author's name, appear right justified in white or possibly light grey. The title is italicised and maybe slightly smaller than the author's name. The rest of the jacket area is taken up with a swirly image of a stylised woman, with long flowing hair and a hat, possibly a bar chest (but no breasts visible) with leaves and creepers swirling behind her. Her face is empty of features, but it all looks more attractive than sinister, somewhat art deco.

The Red Ceilings Press, 2018   £6.00

Self service

Is the poet condemned to lament?

If the answer is yes, then it’s surely a self-condemnation or perhaps, as Rob Burton’s pamphlet auto producer suggests, an auto-condemnation.

We go about thinking we’re special and unique. Nobody asks for another’s great insight into our personal loss, despair or isolation. Yet, from Shelley to Radiohead, when presented with the results, we (the audience) consume the art hungrily while condemning the author for wallowing and self-pity.

But no. A poet’s lament is a service to any other human who chooses not confront those feelings during those long, dark nights of the soul.

Burton’s auto producer is a living confrontation with the self just before sleep takes us into the next normality. Those feelings of such clear genius ... if only we could reach over to the bedside table and write them down ....

The poet’s message?

Those feelings are as much genius as madness. He lays them out physically for us in the bright light of day:

tones stream toward
a narrow gap under the door

Disrupt the joy into
some lines

and i just speak





hand cream

star of heaven

legend of death

my gifts

To you

its opposite

Yessss! Those were my last thoughts on those nights when I didn’t have the poet’s pen next to the bed to review myself and, instead, chose to turn the pillow and count sheep.

Much better (and how grateful I am) to have these moments laid out for all their half-genius half-madness and total-truth.

Because it is not the poet who is condemned to lament. Instead, it’s the rest of us who are condemned, we who cannot look at ourselves and automatically produce the introspection so vital to get us through those nights.

Luke Murphy