Samuel Tongue has recently had a new collection of poetry published via the poetry publisher up in the rural heart of Aberdeenshire, Tapasalteerie. A collection that has a real focus on animals and how as humans we treat them, exploring the animals within us. It’s an interesting and varied collection, which investigates much of humanity and spiritual belief.
Samuel Tongue was born in Bath and grew up on a pig farm in South Wales. His poetry has been widely published, in anthologies such as Be The First to Like This: New Scottish Poetry and Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. He also held the Callan Gordon Award as part of the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards 2013. Stitch is his second poetry pamphlet.
In Tasmanian Devil Speaks to a Settler there is a really angry tone, which carries throughout the collection, as quite obviously there is a frustration for how humans treat animals. Samuel, who is a Theology and Religious Studies Lecturer and Researcher at the University of Glasgow throws in his fair share of theology too, in fact, there is a poem titled precisely that, Theology, which questions religion. He throws in other matters into this collection, Device is an exploration of our need and desire for mobile phones that fulfil every requirement. The Dogs of Volparaiso is an interesting metaphor for humans, and in fact, how much they often resemble dogs, blurring the differences. Noah’s Pigeon is a wonderful poem which vulgarises the romantic Christian story of Noah releasing the dove to find land, flipping ideas about religion. Oft considering the treatment of animals in Australia, yet again he explores the way in which animals are manhandled, in Not Government Issue, focusing on the kangaroo. Fish Counter is a parody of that traditional notion of ‘fish for Friday, or fish for fry-day.
Samuel Tongue’s pamphlet is quite evidently brash in his scathing depiction of people and their treatment of animals and their need for commodities, touching upon consumerism, but mostly lack of spiritual belief. Perhaps less accessible than other collections of work, you have to re-read Tongue’s work to get to the meaning, as it is meaty with words, although at times this is far from the case. An interesting collection that will certain speak to theology students and animal lovers, Stitch is a provocative publication.
Stitch is available now, published by Tapsalteerie.