Free ebook Thresholds is out!

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I am pleased to announce that my free ebook, Thresholds is out now. It contains poems, colour pictures, 13s and Bird King tweets, and comprises a representative sample of my recent work.

The ebook is in ePub format, viewable on smartphones, iPads and Nooks. If you are using an iPhone or iPad, open the link to the book in Safari: it won’t work from within apps such as Twitter.

You can download the ePub here.

I plan to release a PDF version soon, which will work on Kindles.

If you download and enjoy the book, please tell people about it and leave a comment on this page. Thank you!

Free ebook: Thresholds

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I am putting together an ebook called Thresholds. It will contain poems, pictures, 13s and an outing for the Bird King. I plan to make it available for free through this website, in both ePub and PDF formats. All being well, it will be released in the next week or so.

Watch this space…

A junk poem

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The full title of the book I have just published is:

Mr Punch Dreams
or 13 items discovered at the murder scene

A junk poem

I don’t usually like to explain or justify what I write, but I feel like writing a few words on the term junk poem.

By junk poem, I mean a poem made of junk. By junk, I mean scraps, odds, ends, rubbish.

Junk is also a slang term for drugs. And genitals.

I did not write the poem. I assembled it. Over several weeks I wrote lots of tweets about Mr Punch, Judy and the sadistic executioner Jack Ketch. I also wrote some longer pieces about them, which I published on this blog. All along I was really writing about the Bird King, of course, but this version of him has roots in the English psyche, something I wanted to explore.

I love fish n chips and the Sex Pistols.

Mr Punch is the archetypal punk, an anarchist, a toddler in adult form, a raging id.

The poem is a hymn to England, screeched by a drunken rabble.

I thought it would be fun to gather the various fragments I had written, organise them somehow. So I used a 13 I had already written as a framework, on which to hang the bric-a-brac, (dis)organised thematically. That piece was 13 items discovered at the murder scene, a crappy piece, but one which leant itself to the Punch project, for reasons I can’t articulate.

There are lots of voices in Mr Punch Dreams. Also lots of quotations, many of them battered and twisted. You’ll find snatches of The Prodigy, Shakespeare, Blake, a dictionary, the Three Little Pigs. All very English. And big chunks of John Payne Collier’s 1832 Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy. The poem is a collage. In this respect it’s not unlike The Waste Land. But where Eliot’s masterpiece is elevated and universal, my poem is base and parochial. It’s also a lot funnier than anything you’ll find in The Burial of the Dead or Death by Water.

What really made the poem, finally, were Maxim Peter Griffin’s astonishingly colourful, childlike, trippy, saccharine, nasty illustrations.

You should have a look.

Scylla & Charybdis

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Mina Polen’s Scylla and Charybdis is one of the most extraordinary poem cycles I have read in recent years. It expresses something essential about Mexico, its people, its politics, its darkly dazzling dreams, using ancient myths to illuminate a complex contemporary world.

The synthesis of the real and the imaginary in Mina’s work locates her in a vibrant Latin American tradition that has produced the likes of Octavio Paz and Alejandra Pizarnik. Her work is surrealist in the hallucinatory power of its words, images, patterns. Nothing feels contrived, nothing is forced. Her imagination interacts with Mexico, transforms it, reveals it, makes us see it afresh.

As the title suggests, this book is full of monsters. Not toothless literary creations that melt at dawn, but the real monsters ravaging Mexico: capitalism, drugs, crime, a corrupt government, impotence, apathy. Despite this, the word “hope” rises from the pages, forms strange clouds. Every reader will see something different in those misty shapes.

—–

You can buy Mina’s book here.

Text and image are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

13 Medusa variations

What follows is an excerpt from my new collaboration with artist Diana Probst, 13.

Entitled 13 Medusa variations, the piece is an augmented, revised version of Medusa Variations, first posted on this blog in December. The most significant addition to the original prose poem is Diana’s arresting illustration.

—–

13 Medusa variations

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1. Dreams
At twilight Medusa becomes a tree. Brittle branches grasp at the wind hissing through her leaves. She twists under mineral dreams.

2. Little Black Dress
Medusa queues to pay for a little black dress. She’ll knock ’em dead tonight. But, fearing mirrors, she’ll never know how she looks in it.

3. Humdrum I
In Medusa’s kitchen, the kettle hisses and spits. She sits at the table, buttering toast. Her eyes are empty; her mind’s elsewhere.

4. Book
Medusa is turned into a book, bound in snakeskin. Left on the shelf for years, her pages yellow with age and envy. Her secret words will never be read.

5. Mermaid
Medusa swims through the starless abyss, harpoon in hand, hunting. Her eyes are pearls, her hair a crown of gaping eels.

6. Alice
He glimpses the reflection of a coil of Alice’s hair as she darts between still white soldiers. In the frame of a mirror, she’s vulnerable.

7. Humdrum II
Medusa’s mother-in-law clucks over the baby, pecks his cheek. Afterwards, in the stony silence of the kitchen, Medusa plans a roast chicken.

8. TV
They sit in their millions, fixed by her stare.

9. Creation Myth
Medusa is the first monster. She hisses sweet nothings that become the sea. At night, she’s mesmerised by the silver shield of the moon.

10. Cupid
Medusa meets the man of her dreams in a hall of statues. She shoots love’s arrow through his heart, then caresses him until he’s rock hard.

11. Humdrum III
She inspects her grey skin in the hand mirror.

12. Art
Medusa takes up sculpture. Her subject is terror. Her material: life.

13. Reflection
Lost in the Garden of Eden, Medusa chances upon what she takes to be a reflection of herself: a woman, ripe with sin, stroking a serpent.

—–

You can get a copy of 13 here. All texts on this site are he copyright of James Knight. The image on this post is the copyright of Diana Probst. All rights reserved.

A glimpse of Mr Punch Dreams

Mr Punch Dreams, my 13-part junk poem with illustrations by Maxim Peter Griffin, is nearly ready for publication.

To give you a little flavour of the book, here’s part two.

2. A glass eye, with a thin crack running across the pupil

It’s raining inside Mr Punch’s head.
His bedroom curtains are red rags.
Judy is somewhere out at sea,
on a ship with hand-shaped sails.

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!

There’s one wife for you! What a precious darling creature! She go to fetch our child.

Mr Punch fears Jack Ketch’s gibbet.
It casts long shadows across his dreams.
The noose is the law’s reptilian eye.

There, there, there! How you like that? Nasty child. I thought I stop your squalling.

The hangman’s eyes roll madly like marbles,
like dead moons in headlong orbit.

– Where is the child?
– Gone. Gone to sleep.
– What have you done with the child, I say?
– Gone to sleep, I say.
– What have you done with it?
– What have I done with it?
– Ay, done with it! I heard it crying just now. Where is it?
– I dropped it out at window.

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13 fragments of a somniloquy, overheard by a burglar lost in the basement complex on midsummer night

1. there’s nothing more to say about it and I don’t want to be drawn

2. beautiful she couldn’t hear me anyway I was desperate and there were moths

3. they’d replaced his head with a picture of the moon he looked

4. none of them were speaking English more like a ticking a crackling dripping on me down on me hot stinging on me none of them

5. where’s the door I can’t see it can’t see anything where is it there must be one can’t have a room without a door where is

6. the treacle men are back

7. her teeth like a flower her teeth machine her teeth blue rose her teeth birdseed and anemones stretching reaching out to me

8. whenever whichever whoever whatever why ever the evergreen scream fills the chapel

9. trying to trying to read the instructions by the flame of the candle by the moth blown flame of the candle held in her teeth

10. sharp and I think I must have cut myself when I looked my face was broken into thirteen pieces

11. hissing and wishing in the well worn time before

12. someone laughing or loving in the radiator lost his top his spinning head whirling whirring across dusty floors into her dusky drawers

13. hear me I couldn’t say still can’t anyway there’s nothing left nothing look for yourself there’s nothing

—–

All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.