Launch: Sophie Collins and Oli Hazzard
29 March @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Please join us to celebrate the launch of Who is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins, and Blotter by Oli Hazzard.
Please note there is a strict RSVP for this event due to capacity. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you intend to come.
Who is Mary Sue?
In the language of fan fiction, a ‘Mary Sue’ is an idealised and implausibly flawless character: a female archetype that can infuriate audiences for its perceived narcissism. Such is the setting for this brilliant and important debut by Sophie Collins. In a series of verse and prose collages, Who Is Mary Sue? exposes the presumptive politics behind writing and readership: the idea that men invent while women reflect; that a man writes of the world outside while a woman will turn to the interior. Part poetry and part reportage, at once playful and sincere, these fictive-factive miniatures deploy original writing and extant quotation in a mode of pure invention. In so doing, they lift up and lay down a revealing sequence of masks and mirrors that disturb the reflection of authority. A work of captivation and correction, this is a book that will resonate with anyone concerned with identity, shame, gender, trauma, composition and culture: everyone, in other words, who wishes to live openly and think fearlessly in the modern world. Who Is Mary Sue? is a work for our times and a question for our age: it is a handbook for all those willing to reimagine prescriptive notions of identity and selfhood.
Oli Hazzard’s Blotter consists of five sequences, each constructed using a different process. In ‘Graig Syfyrddin’ notes on hillwalking in the Welsh marches – the poet’s former home – alternate with found text taken from an online walking forum. ‘Blotter’ is a shepherd’s calendar of sonnets composed of Russian spambot script – a mix of lifestyle advice, gaming tips, authoritarian propaganda, bucolic fragments and apocalyptic messages. ‘Within Habit’ is a series of prose poems collaged from numerous sources. ‘March and May’ comprises parallel columns of verse. ‘Or As’ is a family of 81 seventeen-syllable poems, each one an erasure of the corresponding page in a different book the poet was writing alongside Blotter. The poems are preoccupied, above all, with the passage of time, and how that passage can be differently registered or disturbed: the working day, the distorted seasons, the timestamp of a text message, the jottings of a daybook, the formal structure of a shepherd’s calendar, the double exposure of a photograph, the reverse-flow of a Twitter feed. The title, Blotter, connects these concerns, suggesting at once a police blotter, a journal, a thing for drying wet spots, and, in its painterly connotation, a way of rendering the world in a manner that is vague, blurred, or out of focus.
SOPHIE COLLINS grew up in Bergen, North Holland, and now lives in Edinburgh. She is co-editor of tender, an online arts quarterly, and editor of Currently & Emotion (Test Centre, 2016), an anthology of contemporary poetry translations. small white monkeys, a text on self-expression, self-help and shame, was published by Book Works in 2017 as part of a commissioned residency at Glasgow Women’s Library. Who Is Mary Sue?, published by Faber & Faber, is her first collection.
OLI HAZZARD is the author of Between Two Windows, for which he received the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize and a 2013 Eric Gregory Award. He teaches at the University of St Andrews.