Thrilled to our boots at Bad Press to read Rich Owens’ enthusiastic review of Sam Solomon’s Life of Riley, thinking about the lyric as a space of multiplicity. Bye bye, Ophelia. Get thee to a binary. Etc.
Thinking about Samuel Solomon’sLife of Riley (Bad Press 2012) while reading through Yeats’s “Introduction,” the 1937 prefatory note composed for an edition of his complete works that never appeared, I found myself struck by the following claim: “A poet is justified not by the expression of himself, but by the public he finds or creates; a public made by others ready to his hand if he is a mere popular poet, but a new public, a new form of life, if he is a man of genius.” Beyond calling out the extraordinary belatedness of recent critiques of self-expression at all times linked with an irrepressibly bourgeois desire to recuperate genius as an operative concept, this statement from Yeats is fascinating for its attention to the formation of publics. But rather than imagining a public as a social formation that one participates in building with others, we are offered here one of two options: if we are “mere” poets, we can move blindly along with an uninspired herd; or, if we are artists of genius, we can single-handedly construct a new form of life like some sort of megalomaniacal one-size-fits-all vision of good living. There are unquestionably other possibilities, i.e. aligning oneself with a broader, more lateralized collective effort to construct a “form of life,” or ways of feeling and grasping, capable of meeting the confluence of demands disposed in the present. Solomon’s Life of Riley angles toward such an alignment, each of the poems grounded in a strategic deference that subordinates the narrativized self to a more collective endeavor without surrendering, and arguably by way of, an otherwise self-indulgent lyric excess.
there’s a lovely pinning up on the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog of Samuel Solomon’s long-awaited review of the Bad Press consortium release from 2011, Untitled Colossal Parlour Odes (as well as of a group pamphlet from Grasp Press, now out of print, featuring poems by Francesca Lisette, Timothy Thornton, et al). Sam’s original review was posted at the Lana Turner Journal.
There are a handful of UCPO’s left at the Bad Press HQ - get ‘em. You can send us £6 / $14 and get both UCPO and Sam’s new chapbook Life of Riley all in the same bundle of love (if u wanna).
Part personae, part lyric, part lyric personae part purple limerick part sun.
a killing gesture
shapes its own world
i’ve measured them from night to night:
tiny ponds of splooge gleam in hawk-stripped light
In this series of red shouts, misremembered lyrics and culture skimmings, Samuel Solomon offers a poetics of conviction: language bumped and rigorous, tampered by gavels but still boisterous in ‘the shadow of our right’. ‘These are not tactics raised to principles. / Every good poem is a transitional demand’. Taken as a set of analects ‘in the interest of positions sometimes happy’, Solomon’s Life of Riley offers both a serious engagement with the ludicrous what-is and a flicker of its opposite: resisting eviction from public space, the territorialism of capital, and the plunge out of affect into the trap of concepts, these are poems to lean on. - Andrea Brady
The smash and clash of discourses buzz across these fully occupied pages, from rant to camp, from sotto voce to shout in the street, where “Every good poem is a transitional demand.” They come in from the parks and off the screens, but not without lyric shelters deeply earned. These are voices, many and singular, that are urgent to be heard. Listen in. - David Lloyd
These are £5 / $8 + p&p. [24pp. ISBN978-0-9567743-4-7] Cover image by Lee Triming.
Subjectivity liberated from the imperatives of purposive activity
Bad Press (EST. 2003) was born in Cambridge, and has since lived in London, Devon and Cornwall. We are a small poetry press, publishing occasional chapbooks of the finest in cutting-edge lyric proficiency. We cannot stand for anyone to be bored where poetry is concerned. STUFFHEADS DISPERSE. PRONTO.