Longlisted for The Polari First Book Prize 2020
Death Magazine is a neutropian vision of our soundbite, snippet-obsessed, digital and print magazine culture. It employs the Dadaist technique of cut-up to produce poems that range from the blackly comic to the surreal, from the nonsensical to the prescient.
Many of the poems confine themselves to the precise aesthetics of magazine columns, doing away with line breaks entirely to find new meaning in their Modernist forms. Added to the mix are a range of free verse poems more traditional in form. This monster hybrid of styles, of fact and fiction, aims to replicate the untrustworthy, hyperbolic stream of media that absorbs our lives every day.
This radical work creates a futuristic landscape of human emotion as product – a pink, shattered diamond refracting our chaotic times.
‘“But it’s difficult for a 6 year old to articulate how few things / are as satisfying as the click of a tiny drawer in a tiny cabinet.” Barbie, Grace Jones, silicon immortality, The Alien, computer games – some of the subjects around which Matthew Haigh’s poetry coalesces in this sparkling collection. Despite a kaleidoscopic mixture of cultural references, there’s a sense of an uncompromising and focussed vision emerging from a still presence at the heart of the poetry. The book is funny, sharp, touching and completely itself. I wholeheartedly recommend it.’ —Mark Waldron
‘Your luxury fitness lifestyle is undoubtedly lacking in poetry. It is also, like the famous people poetried in this book, mediated by invisible hands. Hands that tool your well-being up and down with the weather. You need armour. You'll find it in these pages. Full of surrealistic intensity, black humour, linguistic and formal play, all allied with a dark wit that might protect your brain in the depths of night, Matt Haigh's Death Magazine is a collection of poems that skewers without cruelty, observes with its teeth, and sees what now needs seeing.’ —S. J. Fowler
‘Death Magazine is a caustic satire of advice, empty mindfulness and self-promotion masquerading as humanity. But what sets Haigh apart are the brilliant flashes of insight amidst the beautiful chaos, the sense of endurance against having ‘known so many men who see no point in living’. It’s powerful and heartfelt, almost in spite of itself. As a poet he pushes on through the emptiness, the ephemera the soft-soap interviews and plastic monuments and finds meaning, and it’s an honour to be taken there with him.’ —Luke Kennard
‘Death Magazine is a textual-visual black hole where gravitational forces collapse all matter into an unconditional point of no return. It’s the kind of black hole that winks at you from afar, and you can’t escape its deadly charm. This present-day commentary sucks the reader deep into its infinite universe of black humour, idiosyncrasy and formal inventiveness, with its strong echoes of surrealism. Matthew Haigh’s poetic voice, full of edge and depth, is contemporary and captivating, and Death Magazine is certainly a book not to be missed.’ —Astra Papachristodoulou
‘Exquisitely crafted, elegant and dark dark dark. Poems that nudge me to up my game.’ —James Knight
‘Matthew Haigh’s Death Magazine (Salt, 2019) is an accomplished debut full length collection that succeeds in capturing the tumultuous experience of online scrolling while tackling contemporary social issues and demonstrating an uncanny mastery of form.’ —Teo Eve, Nottingham Poetry Exchange
‘These poems are beyond mesmerising. With themes of pop culture, sci-fi and our never-ending greed to consume, there is a lot to indulge in here. Haigh has not only picked up that dusty neglected snow globe sitting on the fire place and given it a shake. He has smashed it to pieces, emptied out all the glitter, handcrafted figures and fake snow before constructing a new, more accurate version of our world. And my word dear reader, will it leave you lost for words…’ —Bunny’s Pause
‘I read most of these poems several times, many out loud too, and they are certainly thought-provoking. They can be whip-smart, parodic or just laugh out loud funny but, equally, they can be touching, showing a vulnerability in their hearts. The cut-up technique exploits perfectly the lack of concentration that is becoming endemic in our Insta-soundbite-world, yet look beyond that and there is profundity to be found. Death Magazine is not only a bold statement, this book is terribly cool! (If I were John Thompson in The Fast Show’s ‘Jazz Club’ – I’d say ‘Nice. Grrreat.’)’ —Annabookbel
‘This collection offers an exploration of the consciousness, absurdity, oddness and complexities experienced as a modern man, and, a modern human. Some of the images and juxtapositions had me laughing, while others were so perceptive, they triggered knowingness or sadness. I hugely recommend it!’ —Nikki Dudley
‘Haigh’s use of cut-up reaches heights of comic absurdity in ‘Interview with a New Father’, juxtaposing the bland soundbites attached to the idea of ideal fatherhood with the rawness of human vulnerability. Death Magazine pushes back against the lie peddled by the lifestyle industry that with the right diet, fitness regime and skincare routine, death can somehow be evaded. These blackly humorous poems give an incisive yet touching look at what it means to be human in a post-human age.’ —Book, Bell & Candle