It can either sap your optimism, or it can solidify your pessimism. Neither, of course, are highly recommended. But there are times when you have no choice but to submit yourself to such degradations. Sometimes, it is a necessity. Sometimes, it's for pleasure.
And, in terms of art, it can be both. With exhilarating results for the audience.
Describing himself as a "...poet and filmmaker..." who creates "...literature, film and poetry of a transgressive nature...", Craig Podmore has been releasing books in some shape or form since 2009. Ugly, visceral works that make the reader want to bathe in Clorox afterwards, but that leave a tiny bit of filth in the memory. The only work of his that I was familiar with, prior to Your Misery .. is a collection of poetry called Toilet Mouth. Featuring a photo of Nancy Spungen's corpse lying under a sink, the collection was as grimy and abrasive as the cover.
Taking the form of a stream of conscience monologue, Your Misery ... depicts the inner thoughts and surroundings of a young woman called Mindy Lomas. As you can probably guess from my preamble, she is not in a good place. Here's how she describes herself and her daily activities:
I'm a crime scene without the forensics./ I'm semantics without the theatrics, / it's late at night, cold, wet, my body feels damp from withdrawal, / playing daddy fantasies on cam, / breast reduction spam, / emails from perverts exclaiming how much they want to fuck me...
Not exactly the cuddliest description of one self and their occupation. But this harsh, staccato inner dialogue that the reader is subjected to over 70 pages reflects the narrator's social and mental squalor perfectly before becoming much more explicit as the monologue progresses. Kept at a distance, but close enough to see the carpet beetles pollute the bed, it's a car crash that is inevitable but oddly compelling.
Admittedly, it's a one-note book. But it's one hell of a note. The mix of filth, deprivation and the lack of warmth and salvation equals a brutal read, making it Podmore's best work to date.
Craig Podmore, 2020, Your Misery is for Entertainment Purposes Only. Nihilism Revisited ISBN-13: 979-8656595452.
⏩Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.