Sophie Mayer teaches at King's College, London and the Bishopsgate Institute. The Private Parts of Girls, her second collection, is published by Salt in May 2011. In 2009, she published Her Various Scalpels and The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love. Her work appears in the anthologies Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (ed. Carrie Etter, Shearsman, 2009) and The Allotment: The New Lyric (ed. Andy Brown, Stride, 2006), and in magazines in the UK, US and Canada and online, including blackbox manifold, Great Works, Masthead, nthposition, Under the Radar, and West Coast Line.
She is a Commissioning Editor at Europe's only LGBTQ arts magazine, Chroma (whose 2010 Utopia issue she guest edited) and a Contributing Editor at Hand + Star; she also writes regularly for Horizon Review, Sight & Sound and Second Run DVD. She has published essays on poetics in Masthead, SubStance, Studies in Canadian Literature and Stress Fractures (ed. Tom Chivers, Penned in the Margins, 2010), with an essay combining her critical interests in contemporary poetry and film forthcoming in Peter Robinson’s Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry.
Recorded on 9 November 2010 in Stoke Newington, London
- from 'the cock poems'
This is also from Her Various Scalpels, a series of loosely ekphrastic poems excavating instances of girlcock ('la bite feminine'): both the phallic feminine and the detumescent/tender masculine and their meeting point.
- David's First Drafts (1)
Another sequence in progress. This first poem appeared in Brand magazine and will appear in the anthology Collective Brightness, in which LGBTQ poets address religion. I grew up immersed in orthodox interpretations of the Old Testament, but recently discovered wonderful medieval Ladino poems that imagine a romance between David and Jonathan. That idea mingled with my love/hate of Wyatt's Penitential Psalms and the narrative framework he offers for them (that David wrote these particular psalms after the death of Bathsheba’s husband) and Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22. David is, in a sense, the founder and symbol of Israel as a state, and later poems continue to deal with his abuse of power.
- Psalm 44, Remembrance Sunday
This is attached (somehow) to the David sequence; playing with my inheritance of Jewish liturgical language, with the somnolent apathy of 'Songs of Praise' as an image of Englishness, with the idea of the psalm as a howl. I wrote many of the poems in this sequence while commuting between London and Cambridge.
'Incarnadine', 'Mass' and 'Statuesque' are three poems from my current major poetry project, a book-length sequence of poems about a ceramics artist named Medusa, who is (in these fragments) growing up working class and intersex in an English south coast seaside town in the late 80s and early 90s. Each fragment marks a moment of coming to consciousness that is at once erotic and aesthetic, imagined and embodied. Rather than an autobiography, the book is imagined as an abstract catalogue raisonée, narrating moments of being (that are also moments of [self-]making) in relation to unseen artworks.
This sequence appeared in Her Various Scalpels and is an attempt to think about commodity culture and the trade routes of staples: latex, tea and chocolate. They were prompted by magazine articles about the US government's search for artificial rubber during WWII (Late/x), the founding of the British Museum with plantation wealth (Theobroma), and an exhibition on the Silk Road (Cha). I'm fascinated by the idea of mapping the relationship between the exchange of goods transnationally and the exchanges between these products and our bodies: a series of invasions, evacuations, and appropriations.
Previously on Battlestar Galactica
This sequence appears in The Private Parts of Girls. It is an ongoing project that I'm hoping will grow into a chapbook: a science fiction 'novel' in fragments, a postmodern/postapocalyptic pulp response to Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons::Objects Food Rooms.
Use the player to listen to MenstruationPlayer will appear here
Books of Poetry
- The Private Parts of Girls (Salt, 2011)
- Her Various Scalpels
- Marsh Fear/Fen Tiger (Salt, 2002; with Leo Mellor)
- The Personal is Political: Feminism and Documentary (edited with Elena Oroz) (INAAC, 2011)
- There She Goes: Feminism, Filmmaking and Beyond (edited with Corinn Columpar) (Wayne State University Press, 2009)
- The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love (Wallflower, 2009)
As a station. A promotion. Scatterstar your epaulettes. Billets temporary: nine month orbit or generation ship. Applications open to all who wear wings: waxing cyclically, not Icarene. Requirements: to carry oneself aboard oneself; in such gravidity, flow monitors at zero.
Not radiation but nucleation: to divide oneself infinitively. To be plural as stars are; slower than light, condensing at the core. To revel in consequence, even at the event horizon: pulsing at the rim, all systems humming towards the brilliant parameters of night.
'The non-sequiteurs arrest you by their very strangeness, then draw you into a sensory chain where they seem just… true. Brilliantly disconcerting.' - Luke Kennard, Poetry London
'Full of zest, variety and intellectual ambition. There is no such thing as a typical Mayer poem, diversity being her great strength. Dazzling.' - Jane Holland, Poetry Review
'Sensual and vivid, exploded erotic imagery rewrites the love poem in new terms, reinvigorating our restrained and anecdotal poetic moment.' - Wayne Burrows, Staple
- David's First Drafts (1)