Ben Parker is originally from Worcester and now lives and works in Oxford. An alumni of the Creative Writing MA at the UEA, his poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White Review, Under the Radar, Fuselit and nthposition, and he was shortlisted for the inaugural Melita
The Escape Artists is his debut pamphlet.
photo - David Jones
This is a very fine and sharp first collection in which lives are at the edge of events, in locations that are precise yet not quite on the map. There's something pressing and ominous, some kind of loss to be accommodated, leaving its evidences, "those intimate blacks and reds / like crumpled flowers, lying where they fell" or the wind "raising its voice" on the phone. The writing is clear, the poems letters from an unnamed state.
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Sideshow from The Escape Artists
The circus itches. Pipes play on
though there is no-one around to hear them.
The bones of candyfloss point the way
past the halted carousel and empty mirrors.
My appointment was two hours ago
if the fortune cookie is to be believed
but without knowing which of my services
is required it is hard to choose
from among the shrouded cages.
Licked sticks proliferate and I tread
the same giant discarded cartoon dog
deeper into mud. The tents are talking to me.
The strong-man sleeps in a fug of beer,
the dwarves dream of Hollywood,
and I will still be here when dawn breaks.
Gather round! Watch as he checks a map
he doesn’t have, see him turn on the spot
in the same exact place night after night,
and from this tower, madam, marvel
as he spells his own name eight-feet high
with his footprints, The Amazing Lost Man!
Footage of Ben reading at Dorchester can be found here.