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Fear death by water

Updated: May 17, 2021

9th April

'Contains Mild Peril ' Fran Lock pp 76-82

Fran Lock's 'Contains Mild Peril'. Prior to starting the website I was reading this daily and had already reached p77, which is the second part of the book - an extended single poem.

I am devouring Fran Lock books right now. I have read 'Dogtooth', followed by 'The Mystic and The Pig' in quick succession, and may have to go back to the beginning when this book is finished. 'The Mystic and the Pig' did have a strong narrative, but usually the poems feel like a bunch of words that sum up a subject, which have been cut up, put in a bag, and pulled out in an organised random order.

It is really worth reading, mantra like, chunks at a time, as it has a feeling of neural reprogramming. It both flushes away your regular thoughts, and inspires fresh new ones, especially useful if you are planning to do some writing that day. There is often a theme of a traveller's life, and she is especially good at describing dangerous men, but really any subject is up for grabs.

Occasionally the free flow of words bump into each other so we see some good old familiar alliteration and assonance, but one is never quite sure if this is deliberate or coincidental. It's like a kind of surreal rap. I love it.

'pit bulls , shit schools, cripple-lipped buskers slurring into their sinatra, driveways pubescent with weeds, cars on bricks, yeah, imagine, our cousin says sarcastically, how could he stand to leave all this? not leaving, then, but leaving me.' (iii 'everything happens for a reason')

Fran Lock uses loads of words I don't recognise, and given that I don't always know if they will advance the understanding by looking them up, I don't, but as any one who loves words will tell you, sometimes you just cannot help yourself. It's a fine line between killing the poem dead by looking up every word (given I am not studying these poems, just reading them), and being desperate to know what an unfamiliar word means. Today I was caught by...

An ancient city and Greek colony of south-central Italy near present-day Naples. Founded c.750bc, it was among the earliest Greek settlements in Italy. It later featured prominently in Roman legend as the site of a cave housing a sibyl.

And that's another thing. Fran Lock does not always 100 per cent use the word typically. I don't mean incorrectly, as the word is 100 per cent deliberate. But like the 'sinatra' without the capital above, some words are adopted into the cascade of words as if to have their own meaning just for that one poem!

Incidentally when Alexa told me Amazon were delivering my copy of the book she announced, "You are expecting a delivery today ... 'Contains Mild Peril'. " I genuinely had no idea what she meant and wondered if we had ordered a dangerous combination of cleaning fluids.

'iv martyn / siybl' is wonderfully gothic, and has undertones of a zombie movie 'the dead will take root anywhere'. Another Fran Lock trick is to get a phrase and return you to it several times throughout the poem, which grounds it, and again has that rap feel. I often think that just I get to the point that my brain cannot take in any more language or imagery, the phrase returns so that I can reboot and start again.

... hmm I think the end of this blog will now be lost to all time, I wonder what happened to it?! Nevertheless, I won't attempt to re-create it, as I have no-idea what I went on to say! Or maybe I just never finished it and forgot, who knows?

To buy the book, please see:

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