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Book Cover for: Big Song, Stephen Emmerson

Big Song

Stephen Emmerson

Stephen Emmerson's Big Song is a book concerned with overcoming trauma, with memory, with language, with body. It is a book about not forgetting, about finding yourself in a place that you thought you had left. It is a work of remembering, in which unfolds the act of the constant writing of self into text. It is a poetics of loss, and as such Big Song itself becomes an act of resuscitation. This is a book with teeth, and one which shows the way forward.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Broken Sleep Books
  • Publish Date: Jun 30th, 2024
  • Pages: 142
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 7.00in - 5.00in - 0.33in - 0.31lb
  • EAN: 9781916938175
  • Categories: European - English, Irish, Scottish, WelshSubjects & Themes - Places

About the Author

Emmerson, Stephen: - Stephen Emmerson is a writer and artist. More information can be found here: www.eightox.org and here: @tothemadpoets.

Praise for this book

Immediately, this book in your hands becomes addictive reading, and like all potent narcotics, we are unaware of how much we want the next page to keep taking us where we did not know we wanted to go! The hypnosis of poetry radiates in our imagination with Stephen Emmerson's brilliant Big Song. We find the poet asking what we are also asking, 'Who follows who on the page. The last of love the leaves a winding sheet in the trees. We kiss - but our lips are old photos of dogs.'

- CAConrad


There's nothing to write about, which is the problem and the solution. Hence a novel without subject, a form of prayer, lighting out in pursuit of a vacuum. The writing is sprung at precisely the right moment in a process of disintegration, unfurling while folding inward.

There remains a leap, the necessity of another beginning, reaching out for a margin whose climate can sanction the act of writing - a simultaneous inscribing and effacing, an archive of that which simply cannot be forgotten.

Big Song is writing silence, never quite arriving, always suspended at a brink of embodiment. Herein is a perpetually deferred promise, an eternity of false starts. We are always at the point of crossing a threshold: glimpses culled from field notes, on toward an unattainable origin where plot, characters and their causality are renounced.

Memory here ceaselessly exposes itself to questioning. A sense of exile and loss is disclosed, vanishing into the bedrock. For my part, I hear an inevitability, the rhythm of nameless murmur in the breath. Substance is excommunicated, the event abolished; the essential fact is that someone was there, mining the peripheral, summoning that which cannot exist. Whatever share of being was once bestowed is now corroded (the writer knows this) leaving an empty radiance. Everything must begin again from scratch.

- Richard Makin


In Big Song there is no centre only the surroundings and the nineteen-eighties and the sunlight and the rain on one side of the street and not the other." This is a book of tracings. Generous with intersections of class and neurodiversity and resonant connections with the natural world. It's a substantial collection of luminous objects and ghostly presences: a dog buried over a century ago near the river Lud, dogs barking on the beach, and on the telly. Much like Lyn Hejinian's My Life, Big Song explores memory and repetitions, capturing the transience, beauty, and heartbreak of life. 'Big Song is water. Big Song is white noise. Big Song is the last line of a book.' This is a work for both end times and new beginnings.

- Marcus Silcock


Stephen Emerson's Big Song speeds by at over one hundred sentences per infinite moment. Clusters of phrases reoccur and anchor the narrative, while gritty industrial details intermix with lyrical nature images and personal memories to blend body and landscape together. Often, we hear echoes of a Beckett-like turnaround, in which news 'begins to melt into our body. We have no body.' This dissolution culminates in the final section of the book, Notes Towards a Resurrection, where the 'best part will go into the fire.' Big Song burns through any notion of conventional Life Writing to present language as the charred shadow of memoir.

- Peter Jaeger