All three-dimensional objects can be experienced in two dimensions: it just takes some careful unpicking of the seams. Witty, comic, plaintive, touching, acerbic, droll, cavalier, caffeinated, irreverent, stringent: Austerities, the mind-altering substantial debut from Sam Riviere, seems to achieve the impossible in being all things at once. Initially conceived as a response to the 'austerity measures' implemented by the coalition government in 2011, the poems quickly began taking on a life in kind: 'cutting' themselves on levels of sentiment, structure and even subject matter. Not content to merely build a series of freethinking poems, these remarkable pieces seem eagerly and mischievously to analyze their moment of creation, then weigh their worth, then consign their excess to the recycling bin thereafter. Experience is speedy, the poems seem to say, so dizzyingly fast that the poetry will inevitably be running to catch up - often arriving at a scene the moment after the moment has gone. The effect is as funny and it is startling, beguiling as it is surprising, and makes Austerities a vivid reminder that deprivation, as Leonard Cohen put it, can be the mother of poetry.
The 72 poems in Kim Kardashian's Marriage mark out equally sharpened lines of public and private engagement. Kim Kardashian's 2011 marriage lasted for 72 days, and was seen by some as illustrative of celebrity life as a performance, as spectacle. Whatever the truth of this (and Kardashian's own statements refute it), Sam Riviere has used the furor as a point of ignition, deploying terms from Kardashian's make-up regimen to explore surfaces and self-consciousness, presentation and obfuscation. His pursuit is toward a form of zero-privacy akin, perhaps, to Kardashian's own life, that eschews a dependence upon confessional modes of writing to explore what kind of meaning lies in impersonal methods of creation. The poems have been produced by harvesting and manipulating the results of search engines to create a poetry of part-collage, part-improvisation. The effect is as refractive as it is reflective, and disturbs the slant on biography through a bricolage of recycled and cross-referenced language, until we are left with a pixellation of the first person.
Occasional Wild Parties brings together Sam Riviere, one of the most discussed of the new generation of British poets, whose 'post-internet' poetry sees him acting now as scribe, now as DJ, taking in everything from technologized romance to celebrity culture as filtered through Kim Kardashian's make-up routine; the 'elegant ghoul' Frederick Seidel, zooming through the dark underbelly of international high society on his Ducati racing bike; and the wonderfully observant Kathryn Maris, whose work ranges with a dark wit over incomprehensible deities, wayward mothers, the politics of children's sports contests, and psychoanalysis. All three lift the lid on their corners of civilized society to show the less glittering realities that lie just beneath the surface."On the verge of perpetrating acts of artistic barbarism"I perceived a spoon as the title of a plate of food"
- SAM RIVIERE, 'Mindfulness'"Deer garter-belt across our vision
And stand there waiting for our decision."Our only decision was how to cook the venison.
I am civilized but
I see the silence
And write the words for the thought balloon."
- FREDERICK SEIDEL, 'Kill Poem'"The man in the basement wrote stories about heroin.
The woman in the attic read stories with heroines.
The woman in the attic noticed a bruise that ran from the top to the base of her thigh.
The bruise looked like Europe.
The man in the basement was in love with the sister of the secretive man who loved him more.
He whooped to the woman, 'You killed your student?'
To himself he wept, 'I killed my father.'"
- KATHRYN MARIS, 'The House with Only an Attic and a Basement'