Review of Meat in Tears on the Fence

Joseph Persad, ‘deeply clueless: consuming Sophie Seita’s Meat’, Tears in the Fence, 65 (Winter/Spring 2017):

Meat has a certain kinship with long English poems from the 18th century on objects of consumption (things like James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane, John Philips’ Cyder, and John Dyer’s The Fleece). […] Where these poets routinely began their poems on colonial modes of production with clear invocations of their subjects (“The care of Sheep, the labors of the Loom, / And arts of Trade, I sing.”, says John Dyer), Meat begins by subverting the formula:

I cannot address it
odourless in its vagueness
it changes beyond appearances
the specificity of typology is owned           We are left wordless
entirely uncoupled           Not the mechanism
of preparing but the substance names, keeps bodies terrestrial.


The poem trembles with the failure to achieve an extra-terrestrial, if not outright spiritual, status, recalling at times the carefully traced pathos of failure that flickered up throughout Denise Riley’s Mop Mop Georgette. Mop Mop Georgette’s engagement with failure led to a wounded pursuit for any residual strength in irony (“And I can’t do this. I can’t talk like any of this. / You hear me not do it.”), and Meat finds strength to continue in the diversity of its approach.


‘This is a fraught poem, bearing witness to an unresolved struggle to live life. Its capacity to include strangeness, hurt, and being ‘deeply clueless’ are taken as emblematic of the conditions of its production, and yet still, this, like the pig guts feasted on by unknowing consumers, is rendered material for wonder’