Beginning in Portadown, Northern Ireland during the Troubles, the book details the author’s move as a small child, with his family, first to Milton Keynes and then to Las Vegas before documenting his further solo travels writing and teaching English as a second language in everywhere from South Korea, Poland to Turkey and, latterly, Spain (Madrid and Barcelona).
“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
“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
“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.”
Tom Jenks, author of A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions
“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
“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
The Spirit of the Bathtub is somewhere between the absurdism of Richard Brautigan and the low-fi pop reality of Ariel Pink.
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.
I began writing train poems on the London tube in 2008-2009. I sat there scribbling into notebooks as the train went from one stop to the next. What did I write in those notebooks? What people were saying. Signs. Memories that moved through me. From Portadown, N. Ireland. Utah. Poland. A bit of Turkey. London. Other places. I was scrapping with some of the scraps of my life. In 2012 I began again. This time on the Circle Line in the London Underground. A yellow line that goes in a circle. I was reading Ted Berrigan’s Train Ride from 1971 and the train poems were reimagined with bits of Berrigan. And Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day. It morphed again after reading Tao Lin and some so-called Alt Lit work. Tao Lin, Melissa Broder, Sam Pink and others. And some of the poems were commissioned for special events like Poems for Pussy Riot at the Free Word centre in Farringdon, in London, in association with English PEN. There was a special night of poems for Sonic Youth in North London. And the trains became the frame for the poems. For the movement. Kathy Acker came along with her pirates. “There is only seeing and, in order to go to see, one must be a pirate” she said. And I became a pirate on the trains. And that’s what I am now. A pirate. The framing changed a little and it became train rides forwards and backwards all over the U.K. Some real. Some imagined. Mostly it is just a frame. The forwards and backwards movement of our lives. Some of the original narrative lines and mash-ups remained from 2008 but many new layers were added. The poems became a cake. Sometimes crusty. Sometimes not. Some of the poems have icing and some of them don’t. Maybe they are the middle or the bottom. Cushiony. Eileen Myles has been one of the biggest influences on my work and so she came too. The trains are like NY School poetry trains but they are in the U.K. I am ridding and I am being ridden. I am getting rid of. What? I am just trying to be in the moment. Expand out. Inside out and outside in. It’s not uni-directional. I can’t tell my inside from my outside. I can’t tell what is me and what isn’t me. It’s in motion. Like a train going forwards and backwards all over this island.
“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