RICHARD SCOTT: SOHO (2018)

“Soho” is also the title of the book’s fourth and final section, containing only one poem: the nine-part Oh My Soho!, a eulogy to the “treasure map of buried trauma” from the perspective of gay men throughout history. This is indeed Scott’s tour de force, literary and historical, with a driving agenda to rally the reader into shared outrage.

The first section, “Admission”, includes the award-winning crocodile, where Scott relates the ongoing trauma after being raped to awaiting a crocodile: “…I know he is swimming / back to me […] he can / smell the red meat of me”. In the same section, Scott humorously takes on the role of awkward readers, who tentatively ask him about his experience of rape, in Permissions.

The second section, “Verlaine in Soho — 15 Love Poems after Paul Verlaine”, deals with the misery of the modern age through Grindr and Tinder: “…and code run like teardrops / C C++ sob beneath your touchscreen” (blue-screen); “…left right / yes no / does it matter there’s always another / each fitter than the last each newer” (tinder).

The third section, “Shame”, includes another meta reflection, infused with wry humour, where the speaker shames the poet: “shame on you faggot […] willing [Walt Whitman] to yawp across the tattered ages just for you / when you aren’t even his type”.

Soho is Scott’s first book and it is a stunning debut. Unapologetically explicit, graphically sexual, the overwhelming richness of the language and the honesty in relating the gay experience hit you like a sledgehammer. A sad compendium, and one to treasure.

Richard Scott’s debut is available in bookshops and online.

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