Brains Scream at Night by Paul Sutton
|Brains Scream at Night||Paul Sutton||BlazeVOX [books]|
"Paul Sutton has trudged through the fuggy fen of all that is English, wiped his boots on a sheaf of paper, bound it and titled it *Brains Scream at Night*."
Original Plus having published Paul’s first full collection, Broadsheet Asphyxia, and last year his chapbook, The Chronicles of Dave Turnip, which brings up the rear of Brains Scream at Night, my bias should be obvious to - were such a one ever to pick up a mag without pictures - even the most cerebrally-challenged spiritually-deficient Sun reader. Of like mind this collection opens with the unpuctuated poem To all the useless idiots in the future, an imagined rant I assume by a reader of the ultra-reactionary Daily Mail, whose editor incidentally is a friend of the New Labour prime minister Gordon Brown. And the anger is unstoppable, everywhere a fraud and another provocation. Moments of concurrence too: ‘Time for confessions; my brother and I were phantom phone-callers in the 70s....’ A study in violence. On night shifts in the 60s I too confess that my workfriends and I used to phone MI5 and any directory-listed aristocrat, left them messages, ‘The cows are awake and need milking.’ And on it goes, the persona raw to slights and the ridiculous. Is this what we’ve become? The very best this humanity can do? ‘I go to seaside towns - there’s no culture, just alcohol and headlights....’ Open Letter. Anger can find release in laughter: ‘I visit MOMA (Oxford) a cultural divide I worship (am stuck with) .... - see the comments book - I dared address the curator by name but signed “Gilbert Gobster: outraged Sunday painter and local water-colourist.”’ O what freedom not to want to belong, to not even pretend to pay lipservice to their mudlled ethics, or lack of, the corrupt always calling their maneuverings pragmatism. Brains Scream at Night is the longest and best piss-take of our time I’ve yet to encounter. More, I want more. And on we go - ‘I always hated the workers for / not revolting (they are so)....’ White valedictory of the liberal intelligentsia. This contradictory, misery-inspiring world of ours, density of frowned thought coalescing into thought, clenched image pressed on image.... and there’s no escape - ‘How tired Sutton is of writers. Yet he never passes a bookshop without entering....’ Strategies. ‘....Your disdain and hate show like bad skin / through a face with too much make-up...’ Strategies No. 6. Nothing sacred, as it should be. Zilch sacrosanct. And so we come to the murderous Dave Turnip....
I recommend Brains Screams at Night for the energy of its narratives that weave through back streets of Egypt, through Welsh football clubs, through encounters between Manchester City fans and old world emperors, through internet decapitations, animal sacrifices and the buttocks of England's Prime Minister. The performance of identity-sculptings in the book is like a middle-finger provocatively pointed at the self and the other. And while this book isn't afraid to address big issues like race, class, immigration, terrorism, colonialism, the meaning of art and poetry, and suicide, among others, it's most effective when it explores the small details of what it means to be an isolated individual in a decaying, violent world.
'Are there no stories left I can call my own?' asks Paul Sutton early on in this new book. The dedicated postmodernist may say 'no' but they'd be wrong, because Sutton can call all of these startling and ironic observations, these deranged rants, his own and be proud to do so. Sutton is adept at giving form to the questioning and subversive voices that are all around us in the shadows of 21st century society. Doubt, despair, argument and violence fuel the characters here, who are barely tamed or domesticated, and live under constant surveillance and critique. These may be Sutton's stories, but they are ours too, because they are for us and about us, each and every one.
Paul Sutton was born in London, 1964, but brought up in Hertfordshire and Wiltshire. He graduated from Jesus College, Oxford, worked in industry until 2004, then left to travel, and now teaches English at a secondary school. He finds this environment stimulating – the joys, rages and stresses are exactly the spurs needed for writing. And the insight gained is revealing; of how dull and pointless most “mainstream” poetry seems, to those who don’t have to feign interest.
A related inspiration is the liberal intelligentsia’s stranglehold on poetry – the absurd perfection and self-appointed moral guardianship, of language and much else, that they seek. Poetically, this is manifested in the domination (particularly in Britain) of the low-voltage faux-modest lyrical anecdote.
His work has been widely published in UK and US journals. His collection “Broadsheet Asphyxia” (Original Plus 2003) attempts to explore instability, corruption and repulsion, using twisted narratives and voices, as does the sequence “The Chronicles of Dave Turnip” (Original Plus 2009), which concludes “Brains Scream at Night”. Two longer sequences of polemical work are available in a Salt anthology of poetry manifestos, “Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh” (2009).
· Paperback: 100 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 9781935402664