Grotesquerie for the Apocalypse by Vik Shirley (Beir Bua Press)

Tears in the Fence

Vik Shirley’s latest publication brings together poetry written at roughly the same time as her debut pamphletCorpses, published in early 2020.The poems share the same preoccupation with the macabre that madeCorpsesfeel so prescient in the early days of the pandemic. Two years on, with the virus now a permanent fixture in our lives, this poetry still feels topical, its ghoulish humour prompting a much-needed laugh.

The new collection opens with a series of individual poems, some lineated but most in prose, evoking various absurd scenarios. Shirley identifies Russell Edson and Daniil Kharms as influences, and many of the poems have a surreal quality. The humour arises from Shirley’s witty juxtaposition of the gruesome and the mundane.

In the opening poem, ‘Not in Kansas’, the narrator steps out into the garden to find herself in a ‘mud wrestling ring’ pitted against an opponent with ‘enormous…

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