Don’t go over the hill, or look too long into the well, or go carousing with strangers, or you’ll never never never never come back. With the haunting quality of nursery rhymes but the complexity of a dark and smoky wine, these poems brood on absence and abandonment, outcasts and anomalies, monstrosity and mistakes.
At the heart of the collection are a suite of tightly focused, often impressionistic character studies ranging from cannibals to schoolgirls, but Irving also finds space in the shadows for desperate love songs to pilots and robots, satiric odes to tyrants and deft engagements with popular and literary culture. Whether turning the features of a pinball table into an emotional debris field or recounting unnerving sexual encounters, these are rich and rangy poems of a defiantly unusual character that linger in the mind as much for their controlled dissonances as their uncompromising subject matter.
‘She can strip sexual longing down to its exposed nerves.’ —D.A. Prince, Sphinx
‘These poems look you in the eye and won’t look away before you do.’ —Chris Emslie, Sabotage
‘She takes a surreal situation and uses it as a vehicle for exploring the embarrassment of adolescence and difference.’ —Hypocrite Lecteur
‘Never Never Never Come Back is an entirely idiosyncratic first collection, marrying portraits of gawky, unruly outcasts with forms that are both wonky and beautifully controlled. My only gripe is that I could easily have read through a further ten or twenty poems, and didn’t want things to end so soon. I’m already itching to read it through again.’ —Matthew Haigh