poetry as blowtorch #SeanBonney

Our Death was Bonney’s first book to be published in the United States, and the poet died soon after its appearance. Reading it now, one has the haunting sense of reading a suicide note, or hearing a voice from beyond the grave. Nowhere is this sense stronger than in “From Deep Darkness,” a kind of last will and testament:
My love I leave to the suicided. My drug habit I leave to cops, let them wither, mutate and die. My hatred I keep close to my heart. My heart I leave to the center of the earth. My grief. Gah. My grief which is the size of the tiny racist island on which I was born, I compress it, I transmute it into something like the wild and collectively inhuman joy of the swifts that circle the city with a frenzy wilder than. Oh whatever …. I leave the look on my face to my enemies. I leave the red spot of Jupiter to the unemployed, I’m sure they know what to do with it. Screw my heart. Resist death by water. By fire and rope also. I am fearful of nothing. I love you all so fucking much.

Bonney was the most Rimbaldian of contemporary poets, truly living the limit-experiences — in drink, drugs, and psychological and economic extremity — that most middle-class denizens of the poetry world only romanticize. His poetry is pure punk. He titles one of the poems of Our Death “We Are the Dead” (borrowing from David Bowie, who in turn borrowed from Orwell’s 1984), and his entire body of work is an explosion of speech, yammering, and song, in the voices of whole classes and generations that the order of things has consigned to a walking death. We shall not see his like again, and we need him more than ever.

Letters Against the Firmament by Sean Bonney (2015) is published by Enitharmon Editions and is available from Amazon and your local independent bookstore.
Our Death by Sean Bonney (2019) is published by Commune Editions and is available from Amazon and your local independent bookstore.


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