Erica Scourti - No to Self

Veer2 Publication 038 [ISBN: 978-1-911567-68-4] A5, Portrait. 32 pages. February 2024.
£5.00 (+ postage and packing)

Erica Scourti - No to Self

The poems in No To Self began as visual collages, made from scraps of text in English and Greek collected on Erica’s phone- including photos, memes, screenshots, messages, flyers- with two of these included in the pamphlet as a pullout. Written over a period of 3 years, beginning in the first lockdown, they explore value systems from coupledom and attachment to academia and tourism, through the lens of the in-betweeness of bilingual inhabitation.

'No to Self: the note to self that becomes the self's denial, the note swallowed up in the no, reminder turned into negation, calendar item to cancellation. What are the conditions of this refusal, at a time when daily life is increasingly lived through the curated performance of self online, fed into networks for surveillance and data mining, organised around algorithm and AI, the hidden visibility of unfreedom in a thousand tabs and apps and ever-closing windows on possibility? These are the lived conditions that No to Self takes as its material, moving around them in negotiation and negation. Amongst landlords, pain, regret, freedom, a "bureaucracy of desires", come flashes of place, eros, and error, across languages and scripts, "abstract words": the specific that at every turn is swallowed up by the monstrously general, or its mirror image, the general by the isolation of the specific, "a narcissistic worship / of loneliness". With its spiralling list of sources collaged or collided, the work exists in fragment and fracture, but the effect is ultimately one of lyric condensation. "Pain is simple", the poems say, because it is, and isn't, living what they refuse and refusing what they are made to live, asking what is it to "want [...] freedom", seeking what can be known in the no. "I can barely hold / my borrowed key".'

- David Grundy

This is part of a new series of Veer Books to be produced and published jointly in the University of Surrey and the CPRC, Birkbeck College.