Two strikingly presented new pamphlets have been published by Clinic this year – Edward Doegar’s For Now with its bold misaligned capitals and Rebecca Tamás’s Savage with its inverted abstract countryside scene.

Fifteen and nine poems respectively, both offer a one-sitting-sized taste of their author’s main concerns. Doegar’s first poem ‘Anon’ begins:

I don’t want to come across
Too me me me
But I do want to be honest

The most important thing in the world
To me right now
Is finding you the right shampoo

What follows is a collection of poems that dwell on superficiality. Employing sarcasm and emphatic W.C. Williams inspired line-breaks, and ditching punctuation, Doegar begins with a series of Michael Macintyre-style observational poems that pick dryly at the surface of day to day reality. ‘Even So’ speaks of ‘pound shop priorities’ and ‘tap water’, while in ‘Answers’ the speaker notes that:

The poor grow senile
Differently

In public
At the end of checkout lines

‘Portrayal: A Double Portrait’ stands out because of its direct address to a ‘you’ and its brave and memorable imagery, concluded in the final lines:

I am as unbroken water
Mirror me
Let us be two mirrors

Let no one be left looking
At themselves

After the middle page of the pamphlet – where you would pull out the staples with your fingernails to get the poster out from a teen magazine – the poems themselves become more sincere and anecdotal. The speaker starts to withdraw from the surface and instead look backwards – to losing a friend ‘In the Louvre at seventeen’ (‘Voyeurs’) and another friend pinning his younger brother down on the carpet to plant a kiss ‘Deep onto his […]/Small refusing lips’ (‘History’).

These anecdotes, as well as the places named in them – Eastern Ukraine, British Jerusalem, Vietnam, Essex – are never innocent. The poems are attempted neat solutions to complicated, unsolved problems, at their best when they are not sure what they want to try and solve – as in ‘High’ where:

The true
Nutritional

Value
Of a cake

Of soap
Could be

The solution
To something

In Savage, Tamás also gets straight to the point in the first poem, which begins:

please turn around

this is all of my love desperately
finding itself

This poem, named ‘BDSM’, slowly unfolds as a joke users-manual:

wrap your brests/penis/other
up in leather-like material
read john stuart mill

The frequent references to ‘sperm’, ‘spunk’, and ‘come’ could put some people off, but the frankness and comic timing of the speakers voice often made me laugh out loud:

yes girls have sperm
but we call it feelings

This pamphlet is also divided into two sections before and after the staples – the second signalled by its own title ‘Mystics’. These are a series of six poems named after specific people from history. Here, as in that very first poem, philosophical figures are tangled up in carnal language, often relating to food. In ‘Simone Weil’ the speaker states ‘I hope to eat, to put things in my mouth,’ and the final poem ‘Joan of Arc’ opens with the bold statement ‘I saw god in a split yolk’.

If this pamphlet’s main concern is sex, this poem is the climax. As in Doegar’s ‘Portayal’ and ‘Anon’, this poem directly addresses a ‘you’ while also screaming ‘me me me’:

When I’m dancing you could find me attractive,
my scruffy head and my slightly bent teeth,

[…]

You could find me attractive when I’m polishing my
glasses, when you smell my jeans after I’ve been

in them

After the long build up of abstract events and phrases these small visual details relating to a speaker feel like a spotlight which is then emphasised by the final theatrical monologue where the speaker implores us to ‘stay, human animals’:

Stay so I can smell
your familiar
and tender
human foulness.

Annie Muir

Comments are closed.