“A poet of fantastic inversions.” Poetry London

“Multifaceted, mega-fabricated, louche architecture.” Magma

“Voraciously experimental, precociously accomplished.” Poetry International

B O D Y Literature


I posted a retrospective on my previous appearance in B O D Y back in April. April! Really? That’s half a year ago!

Those poems were translations. But this time the editors have published an entirely original (as far as anything I write is entirely original) poem of my own, entitled The One and the Other. This was originally written as a commission for a project that may be indefinitely delayed. The poet behind the commission, Anthony Adler, wanted us to use for the titles of our poems previous winners of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Hence the poem was originally called ‘Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts’. This is now the epigraph.

Yes, it’s a real book.

I’ve submitted this poem to a few other magazines in the past and not been particularly surprised when they didn’t take it. I mean, I find it slightly disturbing myself. I’m also aware that the male poet deploying breasts – or rather, the word ‘breasts’ – imagistically is getting tiresome. I even had a poem in School of Forgery about the sort of faux restraint in doing it. Murmur ‘breasts’ and your poem has that much-desired ‘erotic charge’ because no one can see you licking your lips salaciously.

I think I’m more in favour of being filthy, or – as with this poem – at least exploring the idea of breasts with a forthright obsessiveness. The One and the Other, although it purports to know a great deal about its subject matter, is really a male voice imposing its ideals, an insidious vizir pouring poison into the ear of the female addressee. I think that’s why it makes me uncomfortable.

To add another layer of complexity, in the meta-fiction of my next collection, this is a poem written by a female persona. So it’s me doing the voice of a woman doing the voice of a man affecting knowledge of a woman’s relationship to her body. Whatever next?

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