Christopher Owens 🔖 "The world is a graveyard. Let’s explore how”.
An intriguing premise for a collection of poetry, suggesting either a mischievous romp or a solemn declaration. One can’t help but read on.
With the intention to write honestly, whatever tone that may take, Sebastian Vice is aware this isn’t a prevailingly popular outlook, noting that:
There’s a hunger, a deep hunger, for dark, brutally honest, in your face, sometimes taboo stories. In a world where places like to play it safe, we don’t. I’d like to think the right people respect that. Will there be pushback? No doubt. Will we offend people? Sure. Does this bother me? Not in the least. We aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. Our press doesn’t serve everyone. We serve the writers and readers who like transgressive fiction and dirty realism.
Something Homo Mortalis does with aplomb.
Written in a manner that is honest, direct and confrontational, the narrator lays out his life and philosophy to the reader, depicting a bleak world of abuse, conformity and submission. In lesser hands, there would be a straight-faced earnestness towards the subject matter that crosses over into melodrama. But due to the philosophical angle, where the narrator references texts like the Bible and The Epic of Gilgamesh, the material makes us ponder on existence and the unforgiving nature of the world. All of which is summed up by the following line:
“Millions cry for help/Some soft/Some loud/But people don’t listen regardless of volume”.
And yet, for all of the bleakness and for all of the existential pondering, there is a kind of hope and acceptance in there as well. Maybe not in a conventional, happy-clappy way that many “self-help” and “self-love” constantly sell, but one that is acutely aware that we only have one chance at life, that life “…will kick you in the teeth/Drag you through…heroin needles/It isn’t the pain and suffering that counts/But only did you take it”, therefore just get back up again.
The end result is that the book acts as a rallying point for the disenfranchised, urging them to be aware of the innate contradictions encountered on a daily basis but also urges them to begin again. After all, if you’re going to be trod upon for whatever you do, then you may as well take inspiration from the dominatrix and not go down without a fight.
Sometimes, in the depths of despair, there is something to hold onto.
Even in graveyards.
Sebastian Vice, Homo Mortalis: Meditations on Memento Mori, 2022, Anxiety Press. ISBN-13: 979-8411897319
⏩ 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.