THE DEAD QUEEN OF BOHEMIA by JENNI FAGAN
An ex-girlfriend had a tatty book that gathered dust in my old flat. It was called How Poetry Works. I flicked through it a few times but it could’ve been a computer manual from the 1980s for all the sense it made to me. I don’t know how poetry works. I don’t know how computers work either. I couldn’t care less; as long as they do. Music’s the same. Ray Davies onArenathe other week got all tetchy about documentary makers wanting to over-analyze artists when people “either like the song or they don’t”.I like Jenni Fagan’s poems. They live at the dark end of the street, across the tracks, on the outskirts of town in a world inhabited by junkies, winos, weirdoes and whores. And they’re only the harmless ones. Fagan doesn’t romanticize them but is empowered by her own experiences and wears them proudly like a rusting pin badge rescued from the rain. Out of the human wreckage come phrases like “…the schizophrenic knew fifteen different ways to bring Satan through a crack in the wall like a great vagina of doom” that instantly leave their words stamped in the brain. But there are two sides of every coin and on the flip of Jenni’s feisty confrontations are glimpses of vulnerability and tenderness.
They work for me. They should work for you too.
The Dead Queen of Bohemia by Jenni Fagan is published by Blackheath Books, priced £7.50.