CRUOR – Dave Cullern & James Domestic poetry collection (Kibou/Fuck Ballads)

punk poetry comes of age

Dave Cullern (HAEST/THE DEAD ANYWAYS) and James Domestic (DOMESTICS/PI$$ER) are known for eye-bulgingly angry outbursts with their respective hardcore bands. Sharing this 100 page book of poetry, they attempt to bring their worldviews to life through the potentially flat-eyed, unflinching medium of words on a page.

Dave Cullern

Dave Cullern clearly understands the disciplines and rhythms required for poetry to work. Much of the pieces here have the melancholy air of resigned existentialism, though not without the occasional barb of defiance. On the relatable Homesick, he flits through a disappeared childhood. Free of danger, exploration and, inevitably, growth, lucid memories of “hidden porn in the woods” and “gum to drown out old cigarettes“, among other fading rites of passage, end with the poignant lines:

there’s no sex
there’s no hate
there’s no fire
there’s no pain
there’s no need for excuses
when nothing’s left out
in the rain

Powerful stuff, and Cullern’s work is brimming with such philosophical musings. Take this stanza from the beautifully austere Confident And Heedless:

we long for the touch
of old jilted lovers
who wronged us early
in our slim biographies
because fortune favours nothing
and beauty rots in the sun

An occasional humorous interlude lightens the mood. The cheeky Yesterday’s Heroes, wherein the flaws of various rock stars, artists and writers are inventoried, concludes with a witheringly prosaic put-down of Bono. It is, however, the use of abstraction to grapple with his subject matter where the real power lies. As Research Round Earth! flows through you, it’s pointed take on the proliferation of fake facts and conspiracies is rendered more impactful through subtlety. Ghosts In The Rearview is a particularly devastating treatise on the fleeting nature of our lives, while We Jam Econo’s love letter to the DIY punk scene should be mandatory reading for any jaded scenester. Cullern concludes with the vivid Watching The English, a long, heartbreakingly bleak piece that could effortlessly slot into any collection of classic poetry.

James Domestic

James Domestic also follows standard poetic patterns and tropes. The blunt earthiness of his lyrics are present, but poetry allows him to explore sensitivities and a deeper self-analysis. Less Dylan Thomas, more Attila The Stockbroker, Domestics’ opening gambit is the brilliantly on-point Books, in which he reveals the dichotomy of wanting to read, certain in the inevitability of obsession and a subsequent retreat from the world. I’m sure the irony of the same argument held against social media isn’t lost on this poet. “Starved to death but well read” indeed. Just Talk Loud is the perfect example of Domestics’ ranting poet style, as he lambasts the racist, ignorant sun-worshippers who take their base holiday habits to foreign climes. Admitting that “the cognitive dissonance leaves me at a loss“, he concludes: “Just talk loud if they can’t understand ya, The great British plague on España“. He returns to the imposter syndrome touched on in 2020’s THE DOMESTICS/PIZZATRAMP No Life split (Imposter), and the bizarre yet touching Hastings ties the titular town to Buddy Holly, childhood trauma and Germoline. Celebrity Chefs, and their suspiciously slim waistlines get the sharp end of his stick, The Wait gave me a belly laugh and This Is The Life, My Friend touched me deeply. Goodwill‘s diatribe on charity shops’ overpricing of vinyl turds is surely the final word on the topic, there’s a dark fairytale in The Fizzybum Tree and a somewhat sad, self-critical hymn (Human Schtick). Despite several humorous couplets, and perhaps revealingly, Domestic chooses to end on the nihilistic snot of Crouton.

Two differing styles, both rooted in a tradition of challenging societal norms. Two writers who understand the disciplines required to effectively imbue their respective voices into the medium of poetry. By turns elemental, poignant, melancholic and absurd, this book is rich with the mosaic of life. If, like me, you have a strained, oftentimes sniffy relationship with poetry, I urge you to add this to your meagre collection. It’s for real.

Ancient Domesticean Proverb
Not giving a fuck sounds cool and punk rock
Until someone doesn’t give a fuck about the things you
Then it’s not quite as good, is it?

James Domestic

released on 19th September 2022, click on the links below to order

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