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Mark Pajak

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23 - 27 Apr, 2024
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‘Fresh, urgent, alive… genius.’ Patience Agbabi

This assured and arresting first collection moves deftly and with purpose into private, hidden places – a locked shed, the dark of a battery farm, a murky riverbed, a late-night bar – to show, unflinchingly and in cinematic detail, what we might otherwise choose not to see. Sight is both a gift and curse, of course: given or taken away in poems of windows and curtains, torches and blindfolds, and yet here – following in the tradition of Oswald and Heaney – each image is freshly minted through a cool, objective eye.

Every poem seeks to inhabit those seemingly small but pivotal moments which have monumental, sometimes mortal, consequences. For Pajak, time is fluid: a blink can be ‘slow as an eclipse’, our lifetimes are fleeting, our deaths often lingering and seldom peaceful or painless.

Vivid and visceral, steadily examining violence, sexual encounters, childhood and ageing (a dying grandmother’s ‘slow pink eyelids, those quick teaspoon breaths’), cars and cities, and Nature – full of wonder and threat – Slide is always asking pertinent questions: illuminating brutality, frailty and tenderness, the responsibility of those who witness – whether voyeur, bystander or reader. This is a charged, beautifully observed and thrilling debut.

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