‘Hack’: new e-chapbook, free for National Poetry Day 2017

The theme of this year’s National Poetry Day is freedom and so I thought I’d self-publish a free e-chapbook for the occasion.

So here it is: it’s called Hack and it’s a short collection of collage poems constructed from text taken from a single issue of The Sun newspaper on 21st June 2017.

The project initially started out as a kind of exploration of the British gutter press in general. It occurred to me that while I like to get on my high horse and bitch about the tabloids, I’d never actually read any of them in full, cover to cover. So I did. I read them all and, since this was around the time of the Brexit referendum and the general elections that preceded and followed it, it was an ‘interesting’ experience.

Frankly I found it utterly demoralising and so somewhere along the way I had this idea to take the papers I’d read and see if I could cut them up, kind of Bowie-style, and make poems or artwork from them – try to transform some of the negativity into something more uplifting.

Long story short, I failed. The words, the syntax, the tone were such that I couldn’t find a way to make anything positive out of them. And I had to admit that the old poets’ mantra of ‘the best words in the best order’ certainly seemed to apply here (where ‘best’ refers to fitness for purpose rather than goodness). So in the end I gave up pushing against them and went with them instead. I took a single issue of the top-selling tabloid, The Sun, on the longest day of the year, 21st June (the sun at its peak) and made collage poems that reflected my experience of, and impressions from, reading the paper. ‘Hack’ is the result.

Have a read. Drop me a line and let me know what you think if you like. I’d be interested to know, since this was a pretty experimental project for me! Thanks.

Throughout the project I kept thinking of that Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” So while I’d defend freedom of the press to the hilt and while I appreciate my own freedom to parody the press, freedom without responsibility sure raises some pretty interesting questions.