In the Men’s Room


Concept art for ITMR


It’s just over a year since I first publicly threatened the public with a third poetry collection on this very blog. And very nearly two years since my last book came out.

The name of the next book (“In the Men’s Room“) has been set in my mind since at least 2010, if not earlier. It takes its title from a poem I wrote about how men’s public toilets serve as a useful metaphor for the world in general. A poetry collection has very gradually formed around this idea like a tree growing through a barbed-wire fence. The poem itself, being clumsy, and plain, and literal, eventually fell by the wayside. I wrote a second poem with the same title to try to fix it. A sort of point-horror-meets-choose-your-own-adventure journey into the bowels of prescriptive masculinity. That was just a bit silly, and didn’t really work.

I wrote last year that ITMR had overshot its original brief as a set of poems about sexual inequality, and had morphed into something less didactic (with the obvious glaring exception of one of the two poems already published, the long and ranty “Welcome to the Men’s Room“, which serves as a single-poem nod to what the collection might have been, if it had been finished five years ago). Now the book is hopefully setting into something more artistically interesting, useful, and even (dare I stoop so low as to allege?) entertaining.

There are poems about narcissism, demagoguery, privilege, consumption, carnivorism, faithlessness, philosophy, agriculture, ecocide, toy dog breeds, incest, violence, drainage, and blackberries. There are a couple of poems about actually going to the toilet. And even one or two about love.

The aim of the game is to explore the relationship between human nature and human destiny in a world that has been moulded by humans, and especially by the longstanding power imbalance between human men and human women.

(“… make no mistake” says our frothing-mouthed narrator in the second poem in the book: “‘Communal’ means ‘Men’s Room'”.)

The book is nearing the final stages of production. Editing and design are set to take place over the next few months. I’m hoping to launch it in spring, 2018, funds permitting. (I’ll probably have to crowd-fund AGAIN; unless approximately 40 people suddenly buy copies of the first two books.) I’ll try and find time in my hectic existence to film another couple of poetry videos; ideally for poems that aren’t 25-minutes long and thus have some chance of being watched. I will also try and think of a suitable way to launch the collection, which I’m already really proud of, and excited about – even though it isn’t finished and half of it probably needs a lot of editing, and some of it probably needs erasing from history before it’s too late.

If anyone has any bright ideas concerning how to do justice to the concept in a live format, please let me know. I’ve only ever done one poetry gig, and it was pretty straightforward concept-wise. I was mainly just trying to get to the end of it without dying of a stress attack. But it was fun, so I quite fancy doing another one to mark thi. (And then not doing any more for at least two years, just like last time).

For anyone who’s interested (or not interested at all, but, for some reason, still reading) here’s the draft contents list for Alexander Velky Has Doubts: volume three, In the Men’s Room. As you can see, three poems are online already. One is very long. The others are not.

  1. An apology
  2. Welcome to the Men’s Room
  3. Fossils
  4. Taxonomy
  5. Spider
  6. Attitude: rampant
  7. Finally embracing my destiny
  8. Two rubbish sonnets
  9. Thoughts on a Monday morning
  10. Natural law of diminishing returns
  11. Bones
  12. Good companions, rarely blended
  13. Self-aping
  14. My species is endangered
  15. Naked mole rat Vs. giant panda
  16. Synthetic meat is simulated murder
  17. Tractors turning
  18. Wearing pink
  19. Civilization schmivilization
  20. Trouble in the drains
  21. George Monbiot’s agricultural policy
  22. New story idea
  23. Will
  24. The wilderness
  25. Twitching tetraptych: Chaffinches, Choughs, Ravens, Robins
  26. American fridge
  27. Flawed nature, perfect destiny
  28. Men
  29. Daddy
  30. Altes Schloss selfie
  31. My bloody chamber
  32. Spell for a satisfying bowel movement
  33. In the men’s room III

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