Hot Cockalorum

Kirsten Irving


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Guillemot Press
19 September 2022
ISBN: 9781913749262
104 pages

From the publisher

In this new collection by Kirsten Irving language and ritual are expressions of arcane power. As in the anonymous, cross-cultural folk tale Master of All Masters, the master names things in order to possess them; girls and young women enter worlds delineated and controlled by men, where fantasy and whimsy are forms of fettering. In response, the protagonists and personae of these poems study shapeshifting, practice contortion and construct their own ceremonial acts of submission, always with an eye on the keys that dangle from the gaoler’s belt.

Drawing on threads of fable, folklore, musical theatre and pop culture, and weaving them with the recognisably real, these poems are small spells of defiance and mock compliance, to be kept about the person in case of fire.

A phantasmagorical cast of characters from cowgirls to werewolves, from Jeff Goldblum to Rust Commander Bunny, appear in dramatic monologues and perfectly realised narratives. Every line carries in a little gift which quietly unwraps itself before your eyes. As one of the poems says: For my birthday, she bought me flying lessons, and I took off for a while. Hot Cockalorum is so full of magic you feel afraid of what it might turn you into. I haven’t yet dared look in the mirror.  Mark Waldron