microaggressions is the new poetry collection from American writer and commercial creative Erik Stinson, and is his first book to be published in the UK.
The collection is divided into six titled sections, composed of series of short, ‘micro’ poems that offer observations on subjects ranging from politics to shopping, fashion to ancient history, computer games and celebrity culture to more personal experiences of work and play, love and desire.
Stinson’s work as a commercial creative is evident in the poem’s frequent references to consumer culture and the psychology of a capitalist economy. He condenses our collective, globalized urban experience into a series of precise, vividly imagined moments, snapshots appropriate to the onslaught of the information age. They are poems that are both reflective and indicative of the form of modern communication.
Stinson’s poetry combines minimalist, incidental observations of life in New York City – reminiscent of Frank O’Hara – with the concise, rhythmic imagism of William Carlos Williams, transplanted into 21st-century, digital reality. Punctuation is entirely absent, and capital letters only appear in brand names – text that might be transposed to a billboard or social media post.
The poems in microaggressions are consistently surprising and disquieting. They are set in a time ‘after history’, an era of ‘refined destruction’ and ‘emotional economic decline’, in which society has become a ‘death project’, working ‘against history and the self’.
The cover artwork, by American artist Zane Lewis, visualizes the pixelated experience captured in the poems – microaggressions that compose a colourful and hallucinatory reality. The closer we look, the more obscured and abstract our vision becomes.
microaggressions is Test Centre’s first publication by an American writer, indicative of the exciting exchange of ideas and styles emerging from the transatlantic poetry scene.
‘In an atomized economy subject only to the laws of cool, Erik Stinson’s poetry reduces our global urban experience to its essential grammar: the death project – where the only space left to die is on the retina-stunning beaches of a Windows screensaver surrounded by killer palms and the effacing vapors of a data-driven microtrend that serves only to verify the trend has passed.’ – Jon Leon
‘Frank O’Hara wrote poems on his lunch breaks in New York; half a century later Erik Stinson’s microaggressions disabuses us of the notion that we are ever not at work. Invoking the impersonal dialects of power and money, blending them uncannily yet fluently with the immediate and anonymous tonalities of internet culture, these minimal and highly mobile notations read like bleak missives transmitted from the bright, stark interiors of finance and advertising, and further articulate Stinson’s poetic as the by- or waste- product of his employment at a Manhattan ad agency. Authentically alert, mordant, political, utterly contemporary, these are poems produced within eyeshot of corporate America – where companies are people who talk like your friends – though they never neglect poetry’s transformative power, but rather test its charge, understanding that it waits in virtual worlds – ‘like in a video game / scenes with no edges / very little open sky’ – for our activation.’ – Sam Riviere
£12 + p&p. 174 x 106 mm. 114pp. Offset-litho printed, perfect bound. 300 copies.
Cover art: Zane Lewis, UNTITLED (SPEED), 2015. Reproduced courtesy of the artist.
Printed by Artquarters Press
Designed by Thom Swann