When I read a Marcus Slease poem I am reminded that the world is made up of billions of parts, each with their own soul, each with a great ability to illuminate the sacred while also misbehaving. Slease is a poet who reminds us the wildness of life is not something we can control or even fight against but rather something we should witness and honour.
Matthew Dickman, author of Wonderland
“This gentle series of prose poems follows the adventures of a young dog and his boy as they negotiate life in a small Spanish town during the pandemic lockdown. In Marcus Slease’s world, Puppy is everywhere, like the proverbial jewel of interdependence in the Buddhist image of Indra’s Net that opens the book. This net reminds us that “no one knows where the soul sits.” Is it everywhere or is it nowhere, here or not here? On the way to find out, Puppy and boy romp through a range of everyday objects (urine, sand, wood) and not so everyday references (the New Testament, Greek Mythology, the music of Bach and Max Richter). Can they reconcile the domestic and the wild? Like so much of Slease’s writing, this book is at once ludic, lucid and profoundly welcoming.” – Peter Jaeger, author of 10,000 Hand-Drawn Questions
“Feel the heat, the distance. The need for puppy. The awe at puppy. Slease walks his puppy along a threadbare path between knowing and not knowing – flashes of wisdom jump up at you from the puppy dog panting of ‘just trying to hold on’. Slease leads you into his worlds easily and it feels all right, anecdotal, familiar. The rhythm hooks, the pace builds. You’re dizzy. Something has happened to you but you’re not sure what. The person who enters the book is not the same as the person who leaves.” – Lydia Unsworth, poet (Mortar, Some Murmur, Certain Manoeuvres), based between Manchester and Amsterdam
“A kind of Flann O’Brien vision of pet and owner merging; is it about a puppy?” – Billy Mills, poet, editor, formerly literary journalist at guardian.co.uk
“Whatever you do, do not chase the puppy. The puppy will come to you. The puppy will choose you. You can never own a puppy. But you can live with one. The puppy will teach you new tricks and remind you that each moment exists to be fully inhabited. Marcus Slease’s Puppy is a dog manual. A how to. A book not for the future or the past but for the present. For the right here and now. A puppy knows how to live. And so do you.” – Stephen Emmerson, author of Dungeness
NEVER MIND THE BEASTS
Writing actually as love! Marcus Slease’s crinkling, crackling prose is full of sparks, full of troubles, full of wonder. Never Mind the Beasts radiates with the force, brevity and immediacy of stylists like Mary Robison, Rikki Ducornet and Diane Williams. “The demand to love,” wrote Roland Barthes at the beginning of Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes; “overflows, leaks, skids, shifts, slips”. “Writing to touch with letters, with lips, with breath,” wrote Hélène Cixous in Coming to Writing. These are the thrilling, vibratory spaces, movements and possibilities Slease’s writing opens up.
Colin Herd, author of You Name It
Say Lydia Davis and Donald Barthelme had a son, and his life story was painted by Basquiat, and the paintings were ground up into a spice, then used to flavour a crazy-hot dish you just can’t stop eating while the scenery shifts around you: that taste might be something like Never Mind the Beasts.
Ruby Cowling, author of This Paradise
Marcus Slease’s ‘Never Mind the Beasts’: probably the wildest bildungsroman since ‘Anti-Oedipus’; imagine Joyce’s ‘Portrait…’ being retold by a Leopold Bloom on a mission to steal back epiphanies from standarized marketing. An essential, liberating read.
Matt Travers, broke Mayakovsky fan
Robert Greer, Review in Idler magazine (issue 75)
Elusive and allusive, by turns funny, moving and bamboozling, and with prose so slippery and shining it makes your cerebellum tingle. A really beautiful book of poet’s prose
Will Ashon, author of Passengers
robust pro aktiv quixotik goes evreewher is from evreewher nouns ar verbs verbs ar yu a nu way uv intraktivitee langwage th narrativ rocks takes yu evreewher thers no conclewsyun its in th going poignant tragik ekstatik have anothr box top meeting yu at th melting grange th adventurs dont stop home keeps mooving evn yu dont need 2 carree th props opn ths wun up each page fluid change meeting yu in yu alive wundrful a great xperiens ths book.
bill bissett, author of Breth /the treez uv lunaria
PLAY YR KARD RIGHT
Marcus Slease’s gentle & generous engagements with the ephemera of almost-everyday life, coupled with a variant of bill bissett’s Lunarian English, and a sensuous, curious, cosmopolitan, and compassionate world-view, make this happily humble beautifully-modulated everything collection—without any shadow-of-a-doubt—my book of the year. For 1973 and for 2017.
Tim Atkins, author of On Fathers < On Daughtyrs
These deeply sound-based poems perform the linguistic athletics of English-to-English immigration: ‘I began in uh faild sosighity / with mushee piez / & fried pineappulz.’ This book dishes a sauce of green slime, trailers, ducktails, and fantasy: that of both sex and magic. The titles swirl with pop culture—Pretty in Pink, Body Snatchers, Beaches, Chariots of Fire—making the whole collection hum with non-sentimental 90s nostalgia, playful and pointing at the same time: Ronuld RAYGUN. This book is a delightful, full-bodied, fluid-rich study of how the past still exists in the present: ‘my bag / 4ever / uh rottun banana.
Laura Wetherington, author of A Map Predetermined and Chance
Slease refuses the comforts of rootedness, stability, permanence. In doing so, he represents what the philosopher Rose Braidotti identifies as the model of nomadic subjectivity “in flux, never opposed to a dominant hierarchy yet intrinsically other, always in the process of becoming, and perpetually engaged in dynamic power relations both creative and restrictive.
Piotr Gwiazda, author of US Poetry in the Age of Empire
Marcus Slease offers a great deal in Play Yr Kardz Right.
Mike Topp, author of Happy Ending: The Selected Writings of Mike Topp
It is the small magnified up into the infinite. Over the course of the work, the use of a childlike wonder allows the poetry to expose deeper held truths within the world. A direct path to the reader comes into play, letting the work feel as natural as the way people speak to one another. With “Play Yr Kardz Right” Marcus Slease writes using a language all his own, allowing for mere snippets of story to flow their way into the greater stream of consciousness style. Not quite poetry, not quite prose, Marcus Slease goes for a unique balancing act one that feels so lively. Beach Sloth, author of Mark’s My Friend
THE GREEN MONK
The Green Monk is a fantastic book, the work of a writer with great technical artistry, but a writer who deploys that artistry with subtly and restraint. These pieces are dreamscapes, creating and residing within their own bubbles of wonderland white logic. They have the strangeness of translations, although they are not translations. The Green Monk is an umbrella meeting a sewing machine uptown. Poetry needs line breaks like a fish needs a fish tank.
Tom Jenks, author of A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions
MU (SO) DREAM (WINDOW)
Marcus Slease’s Mu (So) Dream (Window) lets in haunting landscapes where bodies and locations are in constant motion, dissolving and precipitating, presence and absence following each other’s shadow: The foreign desert is encountered by its sand blowing through a muted city, delivery food and Rumi are found left on the doorstep, the taste and warmth of “you” are dissolving on the tongue. Here, writing becomes an act of tracing, in which all presences are intensified in their muted, bodily foreignness.
Jiyoon Lee, author of Foreigner’s Folly: A Tale of Attempted Project
This poetry has seen a lot, has seen the world, but it catapults onward unjaded, grimy/sparkly, “huffing life.” If poetry is throught [thought/through/through it/rough/route/wrought] then Marcus Slease is on its tube train and he’s pulling out the stops, he’ll “unlatch/the room” you read in.
Catherine Wagner, author of Nervous Device
These are not merely some of the most extraordinary lyrics about central European urban realities since the death of the great Polish experimental poet Miron Bialoszewski. They are, simply put, some of the most extraordinary lyrics I have ever read about how to live with disciplined joy in the continual alienation that is urban life. Godzenie is a book about how to live in the midst of hardship by doing the only thing fully possible: reconciling the continual loss of the here with the continuous arrival of a now. So, here at last is the expatriot heir of Bialoszewski. Strange that he should be Irish. Fitting that he should write with a mind as laminar, with a heart as wise, with lines as strange, as his predecessor.
Gabriel Gudding, author of Literature for Nonhumans
Word ruptures: watching the words watching the mind write the words write the mind’ – this is an extract from the final section of Marcus Slease’s Godzenie and it would be hard to find a more apt description of his modus operandi as he trawls through the funny, frightening, sexy, sterile, prosaic, surreal, boring, brutal and tender landscape of 21st century post-communist Poland. Slease is in his element as he shows us the ghost in the boat, the loud sausages and the bottomless prayers of a country in a state of flux. A marvellous debut collection.
Geraldine Monk, author of They Who Saw the Deep
The traveler of Godzenie hallucinates from his diamond hotel bed a bestiary of memories while simultaneously tapping into the post-communist Polish now. We encounter the terror and kitsch of a folk subconscious as found in the house of the frog, where we meet Mrs. Vogel to the tunes of George Michael and a whiff of boiled kapusta.Marcus Slease’s playful travelogue carries us through this foreign landscape in the same breath he also addresses the stranger that is the self, writing a mirror through which we may enter his inner Poland. This reconciliation of the inner and outer might be the godzenie of the title, the alien memory machine and robot heart of a town whose shape on the map is unmistakably human.
Amy King, author of The Missing Museum