D.S Marriott poetry links

I've got to thank Peter Riley for belatedly bringing D. S. Marriott to stage centre in my personal theatre of UK poetry. His recent piece is here:


It's an article that's both admirable for the detail of its tussle and vulnerable to some rather obvious objections (for example, in its willingness to characterize "Caribbean" poetry, and its clumsy attempt to connect/contrast Marriott's poetry with said characterization).  But detailing these easy objections distracts from the more urgent issues that Riley exposes.

They are often most urgent when most mean, as in the paragraph that forcibly connects Marriott's poetry with John Burnside's, both of whom Riley caricatures reductively as going: Look at me, I have a special psychological condition. The exemplary obverse, of course, is Riley's own poetry: here the psychological condition of the poet, as a topic of any importance, seems to disappear from view. Riley may misunderstand Marriott (or Burnside, or both), but anyway this is a discussion worth having. Personally, I feel Riley's critique depends on a conception of normal psychological experience that ultimately isn't true and in many contexts isn't even helpful. One of those contexts, surely, is the disturbing places that Marriott's poems go to.

While fully recognizing the formidable skilfulness of  Marriott's writing (as who could not), Riley basically finds it depressing and a dead end. Well, that's my own reductive caricature of a many-layered essay, and you too might find that the encounter prompts contrary conclusions.

Riley's view of Marriott's poetry is part of a wider dispute with theorizing and any poetry that takes its propositions seriously. On the other hand,  John Wilkinson's 2013 review claims that while Marriott's poetry has close links to certain thinkers (e.g. Franz Fanon, Gillian Rose), "the extensive sweep of his poetry resists any ready purchase, and for readers raised on French Theory or post-Heideggerian thought its way of thinking may be incomprehensible".

Marriott's own cultural studies books (On Black Men, Haunted Life) are most likely the best introduction to this aspect of the poetry. For a stunning example of this side of his work, see the essay "Inventions of Existence" listed below.

This isn't, and isn't meant to be, an exhaustive bibliography of Marriott on the internet. It's structured around the big collections and his most recent chapbook, and it comprises enough poems to make even the most cautious of poetry fans decide whether it's time to shell out for a Marriott book, plus a few articles and other materials that I've found useful in thinking about his work.

Incognegro (Salt, 2006)


Sampler, including "The Ghost of Averages", "Someone Killed Them", "Orange & Green", "The 'Secret' of This Form Itself":


Review of Incognegro (Salt, 2006) by Abena Sutherland, in Intercapillary Space


Very informative review of the pamphlet Dogma (Barque, 2001) by Andrew Duncan, in Jacket 20 (Dec 2002). The poems from Dogma ended up in Incognegro.


Hoodoo Voodoo (Shearsman 2008)


Sampler, including "On The Whiteness of the Whale", "The Ishmael Poems", "The Dream of Melby Dotson":


"The Levees" in Jacket 31 (2006):


From "Speak Low: Poem to Jonas",  in Intercapillary Space: 


["Jonas" is Stephen Jonas, US poet who died in 1970. Here's some poems by him:

http://chax.org/eoagh/issue3/issuethree/jonas.html  ]

The Bloods (Shearsman 2011)


Sampler, including "Lorem Ipsum", "The Virus Called Smith", "Black Sunlight", "Sirens", "Trueblood", "The Dog Enchanter" :


"Pot Kettle Black" and "Into the Pit" in Blart 1. (But watch out, the pages are in the wrong order.)


"Riverflesh", in Blackbox Manifold


In Neuter (Equipage 2013)

Review by John Wilkinson, in Blackbox Manifold:


other bits and pieces: 

Review by Cristian Castro of Marriott's Haunted Life: Visual Culture and Black Modernity (Rutgers, 2007).


David Marriott: Inventions of Existence: Sylvia Wynter, Frantz Fanon, Sociogeny,
and "the Damned" (The New Centennial Review, Volume 11, Number 3, Winter 2011,

pp. 45-89) is available online here:


(You might have to join up. Just bullshit them with that Independent Researcher guff.)

Michael Thurston and Nigel Alderman, Reading Postwar British and Irish Poetry (Wiley, 2014) has a few illuminating pages on Marriott's poems. You can read them if you check out the eBook version on Google Books.


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