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Sam Riviere

Sam Riviere
Sam Riviere


Sam Riviere is the author of the poetry books 81 Austerities (Faber, 2012) and Kim Kardashian's Marriage (Faber, 2015). Limited-edition publications include Standard Twin Fantasy (Egg Box, 2014) and True Colours (After Hours, 2016). Safe Mode (Test Centre, 2017), an 'ambient novel', is his first work of fiction. He lives in Edinburgh and runs the micropublisher If a Leaf Falls Press.



Recorded by James Bulley and Giles Stogdon at various locations around London in November 2013.




Sample Text

Year of the Rabbit


there is no purer form of advertising
than writing a poem
that's what the monk told me
if I were a conceptual artist
I would make high-budget trailers
of john updike novels but no actual movie
the scene where angstrom drives towards
the end of his life down a street in the suburbs
lined with a type of tree he's never bothered
to identify and laden with white blossoms
reflecting slickly in the windscreen
I would fade in the music
as the old song was fading out
keeping the backing vocals at the same distance
kind of balancing the silence
the word RABBIT appears in 10 foot trebuchet


The Clot


I wish for the destruction of the rainforests
to continue or what would be the point
in recycling just as I wish for your
renunciation fetish to be upheld
or where is the reward in wanting
I wish my glasses were tinted 1 degree
towards dusk & noon was a touch brighter
I felt more keenly the pain of no longer
being a marxist that I didn't have
to follow girls in the galleries
of modern art but met
someone with no vaccination
scar on her bicep or I was sipping
on elemental vodka with glacial ice
or was nuzzling the sweetest intersection
of a 7-foot woman I relish a precise
anxiety when writing my wishes
I have not undertaken this
lightly and cannot
discount the
results I'm glad if
I scare easily this matches
not my desire to blaspheme with
'a new sincerity' it's not called that I
want to see clearly each thing taken from me 

(from 81 Austerities)



Safe Mode

'The formal strategies of SAFE MODE may attempt to prevent definitive “understanding” by complicating the relationship between the author and narrative voice, but they also promote “imprisoning” reading tactics that involve cataloguing and randomization. If this book is in “safe mode”, it is precisely because it is fiction. What it asks us about how we draw our values and identity from the gaze of others is, however, all too real. The book takes one of its epigraphs from Joseph Joubert: “We are worth more when someone looks at us”. There is clearly something very wrong about a life for which this is true. Yet, as SAFE MODE insists, this is life into which our technology is wiring us.' —Rosie Šnajdr, TLS


True Colours

'Reading these poems feels like watching a hologram twist slowly, the image evolving & always different/new, remaining whole tho each split-second frame is unique. the same mildly curious/indifferent tone is used throughout all the poems, which serves to contrast with the small surprise the reader encounters each time the idea of the poem changes in new & interesting ways. to me this points to a keen sensitivity to the language as well as the ability to sense the slightest tilts in emotions which are both what sam’s poems have always been characterised by. the images are especially pretty to me because of its lack of sentimentality. overall, the poems are observant & self-reflexive w/o being overly smarmy.  i could keep watching this hologram for a long time.' —Nat Chin


Kim Kardashian's Marriage

'Full of glittering self-replicating empty boulevards, Kim Kardashian's Marriage seems to me an intensely sad collection.'—Lucy Mercer, Ambit

'A wry look at our online obsessions'—Vogue


Standard Twin Fantasy

'The much like being at a party where you know no one and no one bothers with introductions. A woman called Kimberly is weighing a marble egg while harpsichord music plays, Veronique fiddles with a remote control, and "Bathsheba complicates the shadows of a fern".'—Guardian


81 Austerities

'The spectre of the creative writing industry, and its commodification of poetry, looms large. One of the disturbing and brilliant things about Riviere is that he is simultaneously a product of this world and exactly the scabrous heretic it needs.' —David Wheatley, Poetry London

'Self-reference may be part of the course for contemporary poets, but Riviere's has taken his engagement with the modern world beyond posing and into formal experimentation.'—Ellen E Jones, Independent


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