“David Clarke conjures up post-apocalyptic visions that are uncomfortably close to our present. All of humanity is played out here, from gamers to generals, the whole bitingly observed. Scare Stories is a frightening mirror, but it’s also compelling and hypnotic, I dare you to look away.” Claire Trévien
Scare Stories is a sequence of poems that is very unusual and very unsettling.
LONGLISTED for Best Poetry Pamphlet in Saboteur Awards 2017.
David Clarke's sequence-length pamphlet Scare Stories is published by V. Press in March 2017. Clarke's pamphlet, Gaud (Flarestack), won the Michael Marks Award in 2013. His first full collection of poetry, Arc, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016 and was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.
A sample from the pamphlet can be found below.
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The Poetry School
"Causality and chaos. These could be our governing gods at present. They are certainly the governing gods in David Clarke’s Scare Stories – a 25 poem sequence in the third person plural set in ‘possible near futures or versions of the present’.
"What impressed me most about this collection were its delivery mechanisms. Not necessarily ‘what’ is said in the poems, but ‘how’ Clarke chooses to construct and present them. It’s a masterclass in how to embed more questions into the work. Fitting for the highly questionable circumstances we’re currently living in." Heidi Williamson, reviewing for The Poetry School. Her full detailed and thoughtful review can be found here.
In The Journal:
"Each page an untitled poem, snatch of eavesdropping, a rapidfire confession, the reader has to guess at the identity of the speakers and whereabouts and what of which they speak. Told throughout in first person plural, narrators could be terrorists, boat crews, refugees, security guards, viewers, readers, lookers-on, scientists, gameboys, cult members, audience, patients, snipers... The scare here being the world and time we inhabit and which is seeking to destroy us. So taken with what was being said I didn't notice until I was 20 pages in how it was being said. Then I realised that each piece was following the same form – 3 stanzas of 4 lines apiece, with each stanza having an ABBA rhyme scheme. Usually I find the clunk of end-rhymes an impediment to my engagement with a poem. So my not having noticed please take as high praise. Indeed there is far more to be gained from this collection than I have allowed myself space here to tell."
Reviewed by Sam Smith, The Journal
From Scare Stories...
We buzz our personal shopper in –
her face glitched on a tiny screen.
In this, the cocktail hour, we sheen
our gums with bitters and sapphire gin,
recline as the video wall dilates
with shots of ocean swell, segues
into copper sundowns. Displayed
across the coffee table, the latest
linens, white, but piped with clay
or teal, moccasins in ivory
suede. Our personal shopper’s very
much on the money. We wave her away.