The Mystic and The Pig Thief is, in part, an elegy. It is also a book about the pain of being imperfectly assimilated, a book about being torn between the culture you come from and the society you’re obliged to live in; a book about being pulled both ways while belonging to neither camp.
The poems cross back and forth between bleak rural isolation and claustrophobic urban squalor, in Ireland, in England and in Europe. Mystic and Pig Thief are travellers, but more than being literally itinerant, they are spiritually homeless, and this to a terrible cost. The central sequence charts their inevitable transition from nomadic life, to a scattered, so-called settled existence on working-class sink estates. They stumble and struggle, picking up scraps of tradition and folklore; flirting on the fringes of the new-age ‘crusty’ scene, but always marginal, peripheral, only ever truly real to each other.
Although portions of the sequence take Ireland as their back-drop, The Mystic and The Pig Thief is not about Irishness, or even about “Travellerness” per se. It is about loss, about the fall-out from, and the strategies for, dealing with an identity in rapid dissolution.
‘Fran Lock uses words as tools, or sometimes weapons, to aid her personal journey of inner exploration: a brutal but strangely romantic journey that exults in the power of poetry to unlock imagery in minds and hearts. A fine addition to anyone's poetry collection.’ —Joolz Denby
‘Fran Lock's poetry is electrifying.’ —Paul Perry
‘Fran Lock is a talent to watch.’ —Fiona Sampson
‘Fran Lock’s poems are like gorgeous vagabonds, and the reader is by turns waltzed, snogged, mugged and goosed. Part incantation and part acid trip, they’re feverish in their intensity, intoxicated and intoxicating. She’s a worker of spells, in the truest sense, and comes armed with a wicked pack of cards of her own devising: a personal mythology of animals, stimulants and ghosts. The result’s a savvy Fauvism, all nerve and knife and bold colours. Love at first sight.’ —Abigail Parry
‘Tender and ruthless all at once, Fran Lock's poetry treks across the page with the care of an alchemist. Her language, chafed and golden, is our reward, and what a reward it is! I highly recommend this beautiful book to anyone who is a poet, but also who is a lover of wisdom and a seeker of truth.’ —Noelle Kocot
‘The language of Fran Lock’s poems is startlingly fresh, in her words ‘petrochemically skittish’. The poems sing with vigour and verbal coloratura. This is a collection of energy and edge – it is utterly compelling.’ —David Morley