Welcome to issue 4 of PERVERSE! As with last time, the issue has been split into sections, with five poems being emailed out each Monday from now, into the autumn. I’ll also share one a day on the Twitter.
PERVERSE has now switched to Substack from Tinyletter - this has resolved some annoying delivery issues. Substack isn’t great at retaining indents and spacing in poems however, so I’ll need to keep sending some poems as images rather than plain text. Please let me know if you have any problems, but it should be fine as long as you click “show/load all images” at the top of this email. There’s always the option to read these poems together in a PDF too of course.
Different issues of PERVERSE have started in different ways. This time, I picked a range of poems that really spoke to me in terms of the last few months. These first five poems move from something deceptively gentle (but which circles around darkness), through tedium, through absurdist outrage, to the power of the outdoors, to the violence that can happen on our own streets.
I think the poem notes are important too. A friend asked recently “what are those poem notes called”, and I replied that I don’t believe they have a formal name, and that frequently poets prefer to let poems speak for themselves without any explanation. I wanted to include poem notes in PERVERSE though, as I think they provide a useful way in for different readers, especially for the more unconventional pieces.
In this issue in particular, the notes are also a way of reinforcing why we write poems. Barbara Barnes’ note mentions “I'm aware that my sanity has been saved by countless poets”; Nell Prince’s note says “you can climb up and find a new perspective”; and Rochelle Roberts’ note asks whether people should help others, “or simply stand terrified at a window?”
I hope you enjoy the new issue.
With warmest wishes,
(FYI if you are reading this on a mobile phone, it may be best to turn the phone sideways. Some of the poems are displayed as images, so make sure you’ve clicked “show images” at the top of this mail. If you'd rather read these poems in a PDF you can do so here.)
Misreading the Metro
A recent study shows that people with long-term mental health problems should be encouraged to get a poet. Their consistent presence and close physical proximity can provide an immediate source of calm. Poets are considered particularly useful during times of crisis, providing a unique form of validation through unconditional support. One participant who kept two poets said “If I didn’t have my poets, I think I would be on my own, so it’s nice to come home and listen to them singing.” For many, poets were the only reason they got out of bed in the morning. Others claimed that they helped by distracting them from upsetting experiences, for example hearing voices or having suicidal thoughts. Often these symptoms had caused relationships with friends or family to break down. However, poets were not subject to such sensitivities and could form more enduring secure relationships.
The days are
the days are
how the days
come the days
are when the days
fall the days
my days and your
days are my days
and those days
how the days
come when the days
(the days or the days)
are no more days more
days but more days
so days and
our new year of
lying on a corn bale turned on its side
You don’t know how thin the body is until you lie across a corn bale. The ego is muted by sky pressing down. There is nothing to stand above. No trees, no buildings. The sky is blood. You start to hear it ticking, then realise it’s your own heart, getting louder, as the earth goes quiet. Three minutes like this. And then the red kite, its shriek tearing the sky like an angry child ripping a sketch. It circles as your blood circulates. You lie there, a long piece of flesh, thinking of the bird and how thin and small your body is, vulnerable to any bad god choosing to descend.
Barbara Barnes is a British/Canadian poet and actor living in London. Her poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog, Poetry London, Ambit, Poems In Which, Magma, The Brixton Review of Books, The Alchemy Spoon, and this summer’s issue of Under the Radar.
Note on ‘Misreading the Metro’:
“‘Misreading the Metro’ came out of just that. Even though I don’t actually like the Metro newspaper, perversely, I can’t resist skimming through it, usually half-asleep on my way to work or coming home late at night. Given that, it wasn’t surprising that I was a couple sentences into a piece about ‘poets’ when I realised it was about ‘pets’. It struck me then that the article rang true either way. And it does so even more during the ‘current crisis’, when I'm aware that my sanity has been saved by countless poets and my dear dog.”
Theric Jepson has not worn a tie since March 13, easily the longest he has gone without wearing a tie in his adult life or even his teenaged life. (He likes ties.) Theric's political opinion: America's coronavirus response sucks.
Note on ‘new days’:
“Even though ‘new days’ sounds like covid-speak, the first draft happened in or before January 2017. It’s part of an unofficial series I write, exorcising some phrasal madness taken lodge in my brain. These things are hard to rewrite because, once the madness is gone, how to make it ‘better’ is almost impossible for my reacquired sanity to judge. Thank Thalia for Perverse being into this sort of thing.”
Erkembode is a part-timer (someone who works less than the customary or standard time). He is currently working on Another Season in Hell, the sequel to A Year at Work (if p then q, 2018), Strange but Chicken (a film with A616 collaborator Josh Alexander) and ‘performance as research’ project Manningham Mills Mimih.
Note on Excerpt from ‘Another Season in Hell’:
“This excerpt is from the work-in-progress sequel to A Year at Work (if p then q, 2018). The title was originally Another Year at Work, but it shifted gears in April and morphed into Another Season in Hell. It’s a bombardment of information ploughed into daily email updates from Sainsburys Chief Executive Mike Coupe. It’s me as Sainsburys Chief Executive Mike Coupe as Arthur Rimbaud as Adrian Mole.”
Nell Prince listens to instrumental electronic music and used to design album covers and logos. Recent poems have been published in PN Review.
Note on ‘lying on a corn bale turned on its side’:
“I live in south Lincolnshire, and in August the air is filled with the smell of reaping. Corn husks make a dust that is thick, and the tractors glow all night. When the corn is cut it’s rolled into high yellow bales. If one gets turned on its side, you can climb up and find a new perspective.”
Rochelle Roberts is a writer and poet from London. Her work has been published, or is forthcoming from Visual Verse, Porridge magazine, Streetcake magazine, Eye Flash Poetry, Lucy Writers Platform and Severine, amongst others.
Note on ‘Passive’:
“When I wrote ‘Passive’, I was interested in the distance or out-of-body experience that can sometimes occur when violent acts are being done to a person. I wanted to explore the way in which reality seems to shift and distort, how time elongates and loses meaning. I was also thinking about what people do when they witness a violent act. Do they help, or simply stand terrified at a window?”