Released 31st May, 2024 // 120 pages // 978-1-916938-19-9 // RRP £11.99

All Empty Vessels is an urgent, emotional commentary on what it is to exist in our contemporary world. Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson each taking 6 sections of 6 poems each, explore topics as widespread as the class system, Edgar Allen Poe, and the lyricism of night. Even poetry and poetics itself becomes a subject of scrutiny. In the hands of these two poets, these themes become an eclectic, fluid tapestry of ideas that mold themselves around both the specific and the universal, and that present an unapologetic, honest, and uncompromising account of modern life. All Empty Vessels is a book for those who want poetry to be unafraid, and written with a fire whose embers lay smouldering long after the pages of the book have been closed.

PRAISE for All Empty Vessels:

Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson’s All Empty Vessels is a multi-person conversation. Two men in conversation with imagination, language, illness, power and limitation. Back and forth, between the poets — whose friendship is evident in the collaboration — the reader is brought into the intimate space of confession, creativity, chaos and collaboration. This joint collection makes few promises, but the one it demonstrates is that even in emptiness, connection is a companion for All Empty Vessels.

— Pádraig Ó Tuama

This diurnal/nocturnal double act spits and wheezes an electro-magnetic sociology of the underdog spirit with venom and flare. Animated by a summonings or invocation of Edgar Allan Poe and a character named ‘Poet’, the reader is razed by a wild-card graffiti of the spirit. This is a Butoh of working class robustness/consciousness: a dance of death performed to the British class system, executed on an altar of flickering screens, night walks, radiophonic dead air and luminous introspection. A haunting is bad enough, but a double haunting, where Kent summons McPherson and McPherson responds to Kent, reads like a vigorous card game: the flickering deck of their contaminant thought laid down swiftly, card by card, and without remorse. And yet, there is bathos, tenderness and liminality. In a dual showmanship of a new warning for both past and future, these are ‘new forgeries. . . for invisible dawns’ housed in a ‘coffin rolled across a minefield’. You stand warned.

— MacGillivray

Two poets writing so brilliantly and wearing a full suit of artistic armoury; what’s not to like? Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson’s poetics are simultaneously interfused and complimentary of one another, befitting a book of exceptionally nuanced, collaborative poems and texts. Open, ludic, tender, defiant and with multiple helpings of satiric wit, nothing appears off limits in these poems of lyric intimacy, cast across psychological (and socio-political) time and space. Kent and McPherson are a pair of shapeshifters, metamorphic, restless, and so continually uncovering and recovering perceptions within a spindled self. Here, hearts become mirrors in a family tree, the ‘I’ orbits ‘delicately as a torpedo on payday’ and desire is haunted ‘with the eyes of a gundog’. Death is cast too, never far away like an eye at the porthole. This metamorphic effect tilts the poem from sea to sky and back down to earth again, ensuring the writing is located at all times, bound by both poet’s perfect-pitch musicianship. All Empty Vessels listens in to the overboiling temperature of the times. This is a bicameral poetics that comes with stark and subtle warnings. Poets too are implicated, everything is at stake—it’s all or nothing, as Jean Genet said it must be. Time to wake up from ‘tone-deaf banjo’ playing and ‘ceremonial bootlicking’, or else ‘the future watches rabbits thrashing in the snares’. Read this and be fully nourished, yet hungry and, as I did, read it all over again.

— James Byrne

ABOUT Aaron Kent & Stuart McPherson:

Aaron Kent is a working-class writer, stroke survivor, and insomniac from Cornwall. His 2nd collection, The Working Classic, is available from the87press. He has read his poetry for The BBC, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and Stroke Association, had work published in various journals, and is an Arvon tutor. His poetry has been translated into languages including French, Hungarian, German, Cymraeg, and Kernewek, and has been set to music.

Stuart McPherson is a prize-winning poet from the UK. His poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Bath Magg, Poetry Wales, Anthropocene, Blackbox Manifold, Prelude, and One Hand Clapping. In October 2022, Stuart was the winner of the Ambit Annual Poetry Competition. His second collection, End Ceremonies, was published via Broken Sleep Books on August 31st 2023.