Far removed, stretched out beneath the stars
I celebrate myself
and dreadful voices fill the sky,
fanning out as they pass one another.
I loafe and invite my Soul
to the endless dewy woods.
Here and there, lights crouched in groups of four
grizzle and nip at the darker shadows
and become undisguised and naked.
They rage and snatch
for every atom belonging to me.
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing:
houses and rooms are full of perfumes
from the infinite swamps and flatlands.
The dogs of autumn, of the wind.
The black evening echoes.
A spear of summer grass.
The moon sits twinned in the mirror.
It has no taste of the distillation
—it is odorless. I am in love with it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume.
It is for my mouth forever.
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
I will go to the bank by the wood,
and what I assume you shall assume;
roadways that stretch out like sails
through the shadows and horrors of the night,
as good belong to you.
by Walt Whitman / Émile Verhaeren (collage)
‘Infinity Songs’ is copyright © Walt Whitman and Émile Verhaeren, 2022, and is reprinted here from You Again: A Book of Love-Hate Stories (Sidekick Books, 2023) by permission of Sidekick Books. You can read more about the book on the Sidekick Books website.
From You Again: A Book of Love-Hate Stories edited by Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone
What are the things you can’t live with or without? What can we expect from relationships that refuse to resolve themselves one way or the other? You Again collects together accounts of ruinous tension and blighted passion, mixing extracts and cut-ups from famous works with fresh slivers of contemporary writing.
The Hipflask Series is an improvised dance of unusual forms and genres, played out across four collaborative, pocket-sized collections. Each book comprises a selection of written works that skirt close to (or cross the border into) poetic composition, revealing the dynamic relationship between poetry and other written forms.
The major theme of each Hipflask is extrapolated from one or other of these key aspects of modern poetry – play, appropriation, subtext and conflict – but the result is a series that occupies its own strange niche: mutant miscellanies, oddball assortments. Good for a nip or a shot or a long, deep swig.
What are the things you can’t live with or without? What can we expect from relationships that refuse to resolve themselves one way or the other? You Again collects together accounts of ruinous tension and blighted passion, mixing extracts and cut-ups from famous works with fresh slivers of contemporary writing. There’s romance, of course – but other kinds of entanglement as well, all awash with delight and frustration, rage and joy, hope and perplexity.
Émile Verhaeren (1855-1916) was a prolific Belgian poet, art critic and multiple-times nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an influential American writer known for popularising free verse, and who was subject to censure for poems deemed obscenely sensual.
Sidekick Books is a London-based small press founded in 2010 by Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving. We specialise in collaborative books, mostly made up of poems. Our guiding ethos when we began was to explore alternatives to the single-author poetry volume, and to mix poetry with other genres and types of book. Our books have been nominated for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, been featured in The Guardian and BBC Wildlife Magazine, and won the Sabouteur Award for Best Collaboration. We’ve put on various joint readings and events with other presses and organisations, including The Poetry Society, and we’ve thrown book launches as toga parties and immersive theatre.
Read more about the press on the Sidekick Books website, and follow Sidekick Books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.