In Poppy, Joseph Minden explores how the totems of remembering are always, also, sites of suppression. The poems in this debut collection take in a research trip to the battlefields of Flanders and the Somme, an ill-fated visit to Penang, rumours of the Opium Wars, fragments of family myth and a fear of familiar vampires – all grimy with the trash of establishment British history. In these pages, Adlestrop meets 'Robin Hood / bewitched by a leg of tandoori chicken' and drunk Brits stumble around the Menin Gate with 'Lest We Forget' stitched into their polo shirts.
Sometimes accompanied by the historian, Jason, and perpetually haunted by an old flame, Mina, the protagonist of the poems tries to separate memory from nostalgia and empire from heritage. Longing is enmeshed in old ideas and historical material from which it must be torn away. Minden makes disturbing rhythms out of the detritus he finds around him, using documentary evidence, personal testimony, dream narrative, prose, rhyme and the soft hammer blows of repetition to craft a haunted, memorable music.