Author: Verity Spott
Publisher: The 87 Press (2020)
"The brilliant Verity Spott has a new book out, called Hopelessness and published by the 87 Press. The work defies categorisation: Verity is a poet, and this book is certainly poetry, but large parts are in prose form and towards the end it even takes on the structure of an absurdist play. There seems to be a loose narrative, and even recurring character voices, so I’m tempted to call it a short experimental novel, in the vein of Kenneth Patchen’s The Journal Of Albion Moonlight (a personal favourite). Ultimately though I’d just call it a book; one full of words that are profound, moving, silly, sad, challenging and beautiful in equal measure. Even though it’s still a boldly experimental piece, in some ways Hopelessness feels like the most accessible thing Verity’s done. Without wanting to sound condescending, it’s also the most mature. You don’t get much more universal than death, love and loss, and these seem to be the main themes explored here. Another is language itself, the way it defines and limits our experience, and the way that we’re constantly at the mercy of words and phrases as they’re deployed by the authorities, the media, and eventually our own thought processes. Dissenting voices continually talk over one another throughout Hopelessness, often sampled from outside sources, or parodies thereof: Sappho, MR James, traditional hymns and folk songs, Hollywood movies, talk radio, tabloid newspapers, dreams and demagogues. Through it all there’s a painful lesson about how loss can make us bitter and hard, and how by refusing to move forward we become empty caricatures mouthing meaningless clichés to wound and hurt. But grief and loss can also teach us about love, if we let them, and there is so much grief and love in this book. Verity continually rearranges reality (that is, language) as if searching desperately for a way out, but in the end, as always, there is just life, love, and death. Hopelessness is a bravura performance, wholeheartedly recommended."