scarecrow poetics/essays

Monday, March 21, 2005


Adrian Slatcher - 2004.

Adrian Slatcher is co-editor of a poetry and fiction magazine, Lamport Court, and has published a number of poems and short stories in various magazines over the last few years. He is based in Manchester, where he studied on the MA in Novel Writing at the University of Manchester. He was born in Walsall in 1967. A previous "e-book" of his poetry, "The Market is Second Hand Poems" was published in 2002.

A sample from Adrian's collection "2004" can be found below.

Purchase Details:

Copies of "2004" can be obtained for "£3.00" payable to Adrian Slatcher, from 1 Victoria Grove, Fallowfield, Manchester, M14 6BF.

or email for further details.

The Late Turners at the City Gallery

The late Turners at the City gallery
with you.
Art is both an intimate thing
and where nothing is shared but the looking.
We brushed against each other standing back from "Whalers" -
Did we acknowledge the turbulent waters -
Or stand as did Melville, admiring his subject?
We pick up on such things, without even saying,
Our sensibilities like waves, meeting then parting.
The late Turners were filled with a luminous glow;
blinding white sky-scapes crash into the ocean
and outside, our eyes quite hooded, the sky glowing yellow
in Manchester, that inland city; somehow so close to the sea.

On Poetry

I wish I was a poet with a poet's air - not just their swagger,
their insouciance - but the air that surrounds them, bigger, somehow,
like a ring of confidence, an aura - but my air is the standard kind,
it lingers for a while, but dissipates in company.
I wish I had those big brash words that can elevate the smallest thought
to something quite invincible, an orator's way with flourish,
or even mere bravery enough to look straight upon the life I have,
and fillet in the words, dish it up with the precision of a die-cutter.

It takes a least a bottle, and I'm cheap with them, the four pound bottle,
the two-for-one, even in this I value myself short.
I could be rich in words, either a banker, storing them away,
making them work to build up their value, or a playboy gambler,
risking adjectives on the spin of chance, heady throws of verbs.
Or poor enough to pawn my pronouns, give away my "I" and "me"
on a promise of some better luck next week. It takes at most a bottle
to loosen this one's tongue, pouring out the worthless vowels.

The optimistic part of me knows that had I but the time and love
and hope that my life should merit, I'd be as mute as the sands,
enveloped by the sea. That this passive time and love for words
and hopeful skill is all that separates me from one who never writes.
I have thought it through enough, how much it takes just to fashion
the simplest of instruments, one that makes a noise, let alone a tune.
A mask is all I have, a mask that barely covers,
yet when worn with some belief, may make of me a hero.


Rag-red eyes from a night before.
I was celebrating! First of all the night.
(Oh, to be free - free in a city far from my work!)
But second, the decanted wine, the veal rib-eye.
I am a lover of good things and have too long lacked
The steep pleasures that money and status might give me.
I cannot puchase a perfect life, but an adequate night?
Of course! The rag-red eyes will be a small price.

But now I am down. The lids of my rag-red eyes
And the tread of my feet, and the burn in my stomach,
All down - as is the wilt of my lips,
Like a moustache in the rain. I would lie down
But the day is programmed - I have work to do!
The beauty I found in the convivial night
Is smoke-smelling clothes and pimpled-nose,
Hair like coarse rope and my rag-red eyes.


The sound of the gun was like a car backfiring;
But then again it may have been an imitation gun.
All they could agree on was the colour of the sky
Which was green and grey on a bed of lime.
For no-one present could possibly remember.
It seems that the vortex had already immersed them.
The real adventure was happening off camera
Leaving only an impression where once a lie had been.
Some said it smelt like, walked like, quacked like a duck,
But I always looked beyond the neck feathers;
Aware of the darkness of the ventriloquist's art,
It could be that things were just as they seemed,
And that a trick, indeed, had taken place
Where at first it appeared there was no trick.


Beyond the built-up roads cleaving the city apart
what impression was there left? Footprints in dust.
We crossed underneath the low hang of the motorway,
conscious of earthquakes: how everything we know
(that is...our own life) could be swept away.

It rained - and the headlights of cars wept with the rain
and it was dark, and our hooded forms dissolved into darkness.
Somewhere up ahead there was a destination;
but it is just another night, just another callout.
The city grows around us like brickdust in a lung.

Come along with me now, for I have clearer arteries.
The sentient life is beating fully. *Heart* Heart and blood
Hardened through under use; yet better built to stand
The swaying breaths. Numbness an overture,
Lips frozen in supplication; mouthing platitudes.

A cull happened. I saw it. Thirty or forty of them
sent out to the suburbs; made to wear new clothes;
resplendent in their greyness driving brand new cars.
And we revelled in our insolvency, clearer than glass,
knowing that: Nothing happens in this world for good reason.

Adrian Slatcher 2005.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Kailas Elmer - Hunter. S. Thompson.

Hunter. S. Thompson. 1937-2005

HST’s death hit me really hard! He was my hero in many ways as he was to so many – he was a guy that dumb ass frat boys could appreciate while keg swilling - but if you actually read his books and looked deeper there were some important things there as well - actually a huge amount. He once wrote that from the Colorado hills looking west on a clear day you could see where the Day-Glo wave of the counter culture broke and rolled back. I guess on these dry days of hyper-thirst Capitalism and pure rabid greed imagine the despair that winks a person like Hunter out! It's like the wave never even happened. That said I read as many of his books as I could as many times as possible and underlying the madness there is a melancholy...

I mean the passage above is a fairly sweet image, but along with the final sections of the electric Kool-Aid acid test there is a palpable feeling of 'we blew it'...

Perhaps in these dark days it’s hard not to think that the swine won...

Reading some of HST's stuff over the last 24 hours the anger and vitriol that he wrote about detailing Watergate now comes across as almost naive. We as people have become so cynical to what governments do that the idea of them tapping our conversations and monitoring with video surveillance is no shock and in fact many in society feel that it's absolutely right that they do. As a facetious rebel teen I used to snarl at prissy vain conservative types 'ever get the feeling you're NOT being watched?' Then as now, people want to be watched. Michel Foucault, despite his terminal selfishness towards the end, detailed power, the moral notions of scientific confession (i.e. someone please tell me what's wrong with me, analyse me, despise me, I give you the authority to place where I should be, let me bask in hegemony of powerlessness etc) and the way resistance in many cases serves the dominator (he too wrote in long sentences). These days the throaty French observations of modernity have become the raging headaches of static social division, we exist in the carceral and scramble and clamber over each other for a shift manning the spotlight of our panopticon.

In the end, I guess, we give the old guy a few pennies, sigh at the horrific truth that we're most likely powerless, and continue with our lives. This is, of course, something that HST seemed to be pathologically against, he never let up, and he lived his freedoms excessively perhaps because by making them highly visible he reinforced them in the general consciousness. His friend Jack Nicholson said famously that you can't show the general populace a free individual because it makes them afraid; the fear comes from the evaporation of this fantasy of choice that real freedom burns away.

'I can have 1000 island or French dressing on my McDonalds Salad but can I have a government that accurately manifests the welfare of its constituency and aims to create a sustainable and non-exploitative economy? I can choose between boot-cut or flared jeans. But in this shadow of democracy can I choose a leader with an identifiably different agenda'

What made Watergate so bad were not the relative details of the government's actions, but the betrayal of the social compact made at America's founding between the governed and the government. But who won? What were the aspects of society that won? (Chomsky and Wolfe have said it similarly, yet differently, at various times of their own careers) Basically, it was the ideology of selfish consumerism. Ford(ism) put a car in every driveway, but market individualism i.e. Toyota(ism) convinced people that simply having something that was well made and facilitated a person individual aspirations for longer than was necessary wasn't individualism but was in fact slavery. Freedom through market individualism meant that your aspirations weren't physical accomplishments but were expressive traits that could be recognised - dressing differently, having a car that represented aspects of your life as differentiated from your neighbour. Why were well made things aspects of slavery? Because they stuck around! If the aim is differentiation you gotta stay different baby - blow away all that stays the same! HST stayed different, but he shat repeatedly on the forces that sold difference. To some extent expressive individual was the dream of America; possessive individualism became its nightmare. That everyone has the freedom to make what they want, to create what they want, to work how they want, to actually live how they want is great. The reality of 2005 is that people don't believe in themselves enough to actually take advantage of those freedoms. Why? Because it's easier to buy difference than to spend some time and actually be different through action.

HST was different through action. Now, as some people have said, you can remember him by drinking his brand of whiskey. But who would really appreciate that? I think that it'll be interesting and sad to see how HST is canonised. A special reserve bottle for £30 extra? Fine gold Aviator shades and cigarette holder packages (buy now for free Hawaiian shirt)!? When you canonise something you mummify it, it ceases to be living art, HST lived art and his art lives on, and the American flag was largely his shroud. The paradox is that with wider consumption HST's messages may take hold with more people; you know, he sold a lot of books, HST's words are understood, I believe, I just want the message itself to remain unchanged. I want HST to remain a critical call for action against the evils of establishment. Any establishment! What resounds is that final scene in Kurosawa's Ikuru where when remembering a dead guy who broke the mould, all the rats that held him down, relive their association and heighten their influence, breaking off chunks of his achievement for their own.

Someone else has asked the question why all those editors praising him now hadn't given him more work, hadn't allowed more criticism to run through the 'critical' press? Simply because he was dangerous crazy fuck (was it all show? Who knows but he gave that appearance, and for some people that's probably enough to warrant a long stint on the bench regardless of the player) and, that finally, is the crux of it all. He was an intelligent dangerous crazy fuck with a serious hard on for people, who fuck it up for the rest of us, but he hated us too, because the general public lets it happen, to us his message was 'get out of the way dangerous crazy fuck coming through'. Well he's dead now; does it mean we've finally caught up? That would imply that we were, at least, heading in the same direction.

Kailas Elmer 2005.

posted by scarecrow  # 6:24 AM


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