Sam Riviere, Rachael Allen & Harry Burke – digging the new

Sam Riviere


Sam’s a Faber New Poet, a Stop Sharpening Your Knives co-founder and his 81 Austerities blog is a statement of intent, an exciting, thrillingly ambitious project and a “passive/agressive response to the austerity measures”. It’s also the place to find weekly instalments of a long sequence of poems in which the language of online comment, pornography and government funding bodies sit alongside seemingly offhand but remarkable lyrical epiphanies. Here are 3 poems from the sequence, with the second batch of 9 due online today


Today is a day of zero connectivity
I brush my teeth and dunk my face in water
which is what you wash your breasts with
I want to use the exact same soap
and drink orange juice probably from Spain
now there is a gelid light in the kitchen
& outside the same air we all have
to breathe the day is in some kind of tank
all I will do is think of increasingly
horrible things to tell you striking the side
of my head for a new image there is no
competing with the spectacular & obvious
am I not a child at the opera of emotions



I want something what is it
those little boobies from 1964
in the Willy Ronis exhibition
in something like somebody’s
new raspberry sweater I don’t
wear sunglasses though
I like opacity I like that you
can’t see my expression as
I’m sitting writing this
in my favourite T shirt the one
with the retro pin-up girl
listening to a black telephone on it
& with yellow armpits like Rimbaud
bless the powers that have taken
our grievances away from us



anyway girls look prettier in winter
with ear muffs on bicycles in coats
did she know she’d have that effect
‘accidentally’ hitting videocall somehow
so when I answered I was looking up
into her face from inside her handbag
pretty weird seeing her suddenly
in a scarf snowflakes whizzing past
streetlights glaring from her shoulder

Get hold of his Faber pamphlet here, and find out more about S/S/Y/K here

Rachael Allen


Rachael, of clinic fame, isn’t just a generous promoter of new writers and artists, organiser of thriving live events and precocious anthologist (along with the rest of the clinic crew, including poets Sam Buchan-Watts and Andy Parkes – clinic II comes out next month), she’s above all else  a wonderful poet. She’s been drawing inspiration from one of the oddest corners of the Internet, 4chan, for a series of dazzlingly exciting poems, 2 of which are below.


Boxxy you are the home of the anonymous.
I liked to read on you all my false news
it went across your head like
The Financial District and how you glowed
with it. I got tipex and painted you
as an angel on my childhood rucksack
and wore you proudly to school

you’ve got the kind of fame of girls
Who killed other girls in childhood
I wonder if you’ve ever seen lamposts
In LA? Do they have crabs where you are?
Sometimes everyone thinks you’re dead.
I saw a rainbow today but it had nothing
on you. Your eyes held entire months
of teenage summers when my skin smelt
of a scented diary from the garden centre
or an Impulse set from Safeways
anyway I think where we lost you was
somewhere in the Californian sun squint and glare


the reason is probably because
she started to watch all these
day programmes first about Eileen
Wurnos and then about murderers
in general but she really loved the show
called ‘The Unthinkable- Children
who Kill and What Motivates Them’
she’d tell me about the murders
the intricate planning and ‘aren’t
they heartless’ as though challenging me,
and while ironing, so the steam
would fatten and cloud her face.

But the other reason is probably
my father who was a library of frustrations
but didn’t drink instead he ate arguments until
his stomach bloated like a cupcake’s foamy
middle because he was exhausted with all of us
but once that calmed down they went back to normal
like maybe child-killers and mini-strokes
are modern lobotomies but I was scarred for life
that’s probably two of the reasons

Harry Burke

Harry’s an art history student at UCL. I was lucky enough to meet him when he started coming to the workshops I’ve been doing there.  The first time he brought a poem happened to coincide with a visit from the clinic guys, who liked it so much they posted it on their blog. Here’s why

Harry makes poems which utilise HTML code, online forums, images and found text from all sorts of Internet oddities, among many other techniques – here’s a small sample of his many current, fascinating projects (note: if anything looks like a picture you can click to enlarge it):

These are 2 poems taken from his current project at



This is one of his more  traditional poems:


i time my dreams to the second
(my heart stops
at the first three words of your reply
who knew letters like L, A, K, E
could come together and make such beautiful blue
who’d have thought symbols like R, G, B
could turn themselves into so many shapes,
all of them speaking of you.
remember disneyland 1998,
coca cola in your hand,
red, heart shaped sunglasses and minnie mouse teeth,
the pearl of sun cream still on your shoulder,
that man behind your mother with sporty sunglasses
and tomato ketchup in his goatee;
remember your uncle’s trampoline,
bouncing as high as the red brick chimney,
legs falling from your school skirt
and tracing starlings in the sky;
remember results day 2007,
your navy sweatshirt knotted on the grass,
sucking on a highland spring bottle
with a half peeled label
and sat apart from the group,
o mio babbino caro.
my breath gets caught on the roof of my mouth
as the cotton slips effortlessly down
your inner thigh.
you brush your hair out of your eye brow,
sit on the end of the bed
and with that one, secret dimple,
look at me.)
i watch my dreams in mp4.

and finally one of his ‘screenshot poems’

shoot digi clock

He also blogs at

  1. September 18th, 2011

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