Poems by Sam Riviere

Sam Riviere co-edits the anthology series Stop Sharpening Your Knives, and was a recipient of a 2009 Eric Gregory Award. Faber & Faber published his pamphlet in 2010 as part of their New Poets scheme. These poems are taken from  '81 Austerities', a series currently being published in instalments with supporting material at this place.


In 3 years I have been 'awarded'
£48,000 by various funding bodies
councils and publishing houses
for my contributions to the art
and I would like to acknowledge
the initiatives put in place
by the government and the rigorous
assessment criteria under which
my work has thrived since 2008
I have written 20 or 21 poems
developed a taste for sushi
decent wine bought my acquaintances
many beers many of whom have
never worked a day in their lives
how would you like to touch my palm
and divine how long my working
week has been mostly I watch films
and stare and try to decide what
to wear speaking as a poet I would
rather blow my brains out than run
out of credit as the biographer
of the famously unresolved
50's poet-suicide has commented
capital is the index of meaning
anything is better than stealing
from the Co-Op with a clotted heart
without it you don't survive


I can see that things have gotten pretty bad
our way of life threatened by financiers
assortments of phoneys and opportunists
and very soon the things we cherish most
will likely be taken from us the wine
from our cellars our silk gowns and opium
but tell me what do you expect Chung Ling Soo
much ridiculed conjurer of the court and last
of the dynasty of brooms to do about it?


personally i can’t remember         hearing of a time there was so much     
well-written work being produced        all of it extremely well-written     
S’s first novel is excellent        H's new collection is also excellent
i’m told how nice it is to see that I                 T and E finally have their
books out i'm sure they'll receive        excellent reviews in the broadsheets it's no exaggeration to say that         there are not enough minutes
in the day to give each the attention       they undoubtedly deserve


it depends if he is genuine or not
if he is it is wonderfully expressive
sensitive overt yet subtle brave art
if he is not it is an arrogance and
conceit a concept daring to see
how stupid people can be how much
they can be conned by confidence
it's a confidence trick that if he gets
pleasure from makes him in my eyes
an arsehole to do something like that
although it could be argued if the
audience are aware of his exhibitionism
and enjoy the twist to a normal stage
performance it is of no matter what his
psychology is and he would not be an
arsehole or a twat only he himself
knows how much of his planned act
however planned is motivated by
honesty and how much is disingenuous
absurdism if that distinction can be made


naked french girls smoking weed
naked ecuadorian girls drinking cherryade
naked dutch girls watching a philip seymour hoffman dvd
no naked french girls smoking weed


much against everyone's advice
I have decided to live the life
I want to read about and write it
not by visiting the graves of authors
or moving to london to hear
in my sleep its gothic lullaby
not by going for coastal walks
or being from the north and lathing
every line as an approach it's
way outmoded I run a bath turn
off the lights I think only of
lathering the pale arms of my wife
for now a girl who dreads weekends
then I guess I might as well teach
squandering so as not to squander
this marvellous opportunity right?

poems by Sam Riviere; reprinted with permission of the poet