The Politics of Knives


Poems about violence and spectatorship, with topics ranging from Kafka and Hitchcock to Greek myth and political assassination.



She made hyphens, made me use them.
Pulled brackets from her back. Saying:
‘These in your throat and these around your neck.’

If David Lynch crashed into Franz Kafka in a dark alley, the result might look like THE POLITICS OF KNIVES.

Moving from shattered surrealism to disembowelled films, these poems land us in a limbo between the intellectual and the visceral, between speaking and screaming — combining poetry, fiction, and essay, with topics ranging from Kafka and Hitchcock to Greek myth and political assassination. Finding the language of violence and the violence in language, Jonathan Ball becomes the Stephen King of verse.

Purchase of the print edition entitles you to a free eBook edition. The eBook will be delivered digitally, before the print book ships. The eBook is available on its own as well, directly from the publisher. (For weird legal reasons, I can give away the eBook, but I can’t sell it.)

“The Politics of Knives marks Jonathan Ball as a talent already here in a big way. Read it.” — Douglas Barbour

“If Jonathan Ball’s previous book of poems Clockfire was a book about the horrors of the theatre, The Politics of Knives, his most recent, is about the horrors of film. Using the cut as an organizing device, Ball interrogates the way we organize our everyday (and not so everyday) narratives: how we surveil and are surveilled, what we include and exclude from our cinematic and psychological frames, and what it means to wait for the next reel to start. Caught between filmic edit and horrific cuts in reality, Ball asks whether the imagined film of our lives isn’t already a scary one.” — Ryan Fitzpatrick

“The violence in The Politics of Knives is often directed at the text itself. Many passages exploit a syntactical ambiguity to set up one meaning while at the same time subverting another, so the reader never knows which word might turn traitor.” — Jeremy Colangelo


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