Never Mind the Beasts
Beginning in Portadown, Northern Ireland during the Troubles, the book details the author’s move with his family, as a small boy, first to Milton Keynes and then to Las Vegas before documenting his further solo travels trying to survive on the meagre pickings of a writer whilst teaching English as a second language in everywhere from South Korea, Poland to Turkey and, latterly, Spain (Madrid and Barcelona).
The Green Monk
A black hole full of hairspray and cigarette butts where the deer are twitching. It is the great urn of space dust where yellow yolk drips down the wall. These poems are migration and immigration across various physical and imaginary, spatial and temporal, fields;journeys, healings, and transformations;the illusions of self that each new self is born into. Written between London, Madrid, and Krakow, it engages thrillingly with various surrealist visions of artists and poets, including Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dali, García Lorca, James Tate, and Chika Sagawa. It concerns, variously, erotics, animism and magic;food, death and sublime nature;fairy tales and alchemy, mixed up with the wonders of everyday life. It is simultaneously contemporary and ancient, built on visual images and techniques of juxtaposition and collage, into entertainingly absurd narratives.
The Green Monk
All of the eighty-three pieces that make up the book are short, seldom reaching half a page. Things happen: porridge gets burned; oranges are eaten; dead milkmen do their rounds. These micronarratives, however, are secondary to the main business, which is language itself. The epigraphs make Slease’s sympathies clear, including Lorca, Rilke and Leonora Carrington: ellipsis, allusion, surrealism. One could also add the deadpan hysteria of Daniil Kharms. Slease’s work, like that of Kharms, is absurdist but rooted in the quotidian. In The Green Monk, the magical and the mundane exist not in opposition but in symbiosis. In ‘Black Hole’, a mysterious bearded man enters a ‘wooden restaurant’, but the true centre of negative gravity is ‘an 80s microwave’ which emerges as a bijou dimensional portal.
Some pieces read like hypnagogic hallucinations, ‘The Lovely Bones’ for instance, where a priest commands his flock kiss a turtle named W.B. Yeats. There is humour in Slease’s visions, all the more so because he plays them straight. He is a painterly writer, operating on the level of image, texture and vivid colour. He also knows when to stop, even if that is when he has barely started. ‘Foil Dinner’ only makes it once past the right-hand margin: ‘In ghost town. Sitting on red rocks. Fingering the flint. Fingering the foil. The potato cooks in the ashes.’
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
What People Say
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
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 Chamber Music: About the Wu-Tang (in 36 Pieces)
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
Nomadic Surrealist Travels
“Travel with him as he travels, each location providing its own kind of inspiration, but also demanding an adjustment of speech, writing, and style. His previous collection Rides (Blart Books) documents subway commutes in London and around the United Kingdom. His mu (Dream) so (Window), published by Poor Claudia, is a sequence of impressionistic and confessional transcriptions based on a notebook he kept while living in Seoul. Drawing on his experiences in the Polish region of Silesia, his collection Godzenie (BlazeVox) is part travelogue, part an exercise in cultural immersion, part a book about “how to live with disciplined joy in the continual alienation that is urban life,” as Gabriel Gudding aptly puts it. ” – Piotr Gwiazda
Never Mind the Beasts
From Portadown, at the height of troubles, to Milton Keynes, in its 80’s bubble. To Las Vegas, with it’s spinning lolly, to the future farmers of America in Hurricane, Utah. From the giant crab in Osaka to Katowice’s wild boars. From Ankara, Madrid, Barcelona, and beyond!
“Marcus Slease’s eighth book, Rides, chronicles train trips to and from points around the UK. His sentences and fragments fuse memories, observations, and fantastical statements, such as “we live in a tin can / in spring the bees come,” into one extended monologue. The poems are conversational and informal; there’s no punctuation or sentence-level capitalization. There is a lot of humor in the book and a wildness that creates the effect of a voyeuristic dreamscape. London sits silently in the center of the book, and the path to each of the destinations forms a sunburst on the map. Fitting, since the last page has only two words: ‘the flowers.'”
The Green Monk
From the Jewish quarter in Kraków (Kazimierz) to Katowice’s Manhattan Estate. From the docklands of East London to a boat called The Gandalf in Amsterdam. From the crack houses of North Las Vegas to the flaky pastries of Madrid, and beyond!
The Spirit of the Bathtub
“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.'”
The Spirit of the Bathtub is somewhere between the absurdism of Richard Brautigan and the low-fi dreampop of Ariel Pink.
The Spirit of the bathtub
Experience surreal tales from the bathtubs of South Korea, Utah, Turkey, Italy, Poland, and London. Vibration therapy with Spirit monkeys. Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. The emotional weights are shifting. Dancing and acrobatics in the multi-verse. It is an expansive big bath person. It is the miracle that dissolves in the bathtub like a lump of sugar. Welcome to the lesser lights of the Bardo. In the milky clouds of the bathtub you will never be sober. Hello my old friend. Tune in to signals from another universe. It looks just like this one.