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From ‘Head Sonnets’

On some level, I’m sure, every poem is a failure. A lot of theory says as much, and I have always thought this was to do with our desire to reach out and touch the things that poems clamour to caress. But failure is so easy to claim, it’s less a matter of Icarus falling into the sea than the boy canon-balling in the swimming pool. Which is forbidden for a reason. As a young boy, I was ashamed of my body, and I insert this detail just to personalise the dryness of the problem that I’m presenting, which is how to make a poem touch a person? How can you guarantee, with the only things you have to work with, what poets over-generally call form, that you can move someone? It can’t be by self-exposure, or maybe it can, but I can’t do that. I looked over at you reading in the library before we really touched each other, and continued to think about the ways a poem might somehow not reproduce the logic of late capitalism. So many years down the line, the distance is so much larger; I thought that everything was a love poem, provided that it collapsed. I thought it was the single frozen moment of the splash that we apprehend after the fact and remember as beautiful. It was you who made me feel the inadequacy of my justifications, that I had expected that failing to love you would be easy.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

’s poems have appeared in Poetry London, The Rialto, and The Boston Review, among other places. He is currently a teaching associate at Queen Mary University of London.

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