Top Ten Poetry Collections to Read or Re-read in 2015

Written by Becky Cherriman for on Thursday, December 24th, 2015

‘Advertising is an art form
that consumes the artist;
an art form requiring the artist
to consume all other art forms.
In this sense it is the highest art form.’

As an ex-employee of the advertising industry, Sai uses the tools of that trade such as puns and punctuation to critique and subvert the rhetorics of capitalism. Career Suicides For The Conscientious Adman includes the lines, ‘Do not pass Ogoni. Straight to hell. Suffer sHEll-shock’, evoking the board game Monopoly and capitalism.

The collection is peppered with quotes and even rewrites of Ice Ice Baby, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and Redemption Song, which becomes Reparation Song. The tabloids, global warming, The Labour Party, the monarchy, good-but-misplaced intentions, sexism and even southern fried chicken are targets for Sai’s wit. The capitalist voice is the dominant one, so in-your-face that we are forced to confront its manipulations.

But there is humour here. While mocking the literary industry, that for the most part, ignores BME communities or perceives them as a threat, his intentions to ‘blow open minds’ are seen as suspect:

…Authorities remain bemused as to how easily/ the suspect gained entrance to the venue and managed to secure top billing as the final performer of the night.

How easily we forgive this self-deprecating narrator who describes how his performance has ‘bombed’.

There is hope too, as in the poem about the unsettling experience of growing up mixed race in a white town and, movingly, how he gradually comes to accept the blackness of his father. The ‘self-application of clothes peg to reduce size of my nose’ is picked up at the end of the poem when ‘cohobblopot’ becomes ‘Aromatic to the unpegged nose’.

The poet beseeches us to ‘turn Facebook face to a book, / reclaim time and space/that MySpace took.’ I beseech you to turn your face to Ad-Liberation.