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Stroking Cerberus: Poems from the Afterlife

Stroking Cerberus: Poems from the Afterlife

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Stroking Cerberus: Poems from the Afterlife

55 pages
19 minutes
Jan 29, 2020


‘This dazzling series shows that if the barriers can be vaulted there is true beauty to be had from the lesser-walked streets of literature. These works are both nourishing and inspiring, and a gift to any reader.’ —Kerry Hudson

The living have always told themselves stories about the dead, but few of us stop to wonder if the dead ever tell tales of the living. Through the prism of Haskell’s identity as a deaf poet come the themes of communication—or miscommunication—across worlds, languages and between the living and the dead.
Mythical dogs, the dead who mourn the living, and the sorrow of those reincarnated, join hands around Jacqueline Haskell’s unique and very personal poetic Ouija board to resonate with the living, the dead and all those in-between. As forcible as they are humorous, these are poignant and thought-provoking poems.

Spotlight Books is a collaboration between Creative Future, New Writing South and Myriad Editions to discover, guide and support writers who are under-represented due to mental or physical health issues, disability, race, class, gender identity or social circumstance.

Jan 29, 2020

À propos de l'auteur

Jacqueline Haskell is a deaf poet and novelist. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, and her debut novel, The Auspice, was a finalist in the 2018 Bath Novel Award. Her short fiction has been listed in many competitions, including the Bridport Prize and the Asham Award.

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Aperçu du livre

Stroking Cerberus - Jacqueline Haskell



In 1939, American photographer Attila von Szalay experimented

with a phonograph record cutter to capture spirit voices;

in later years, he used a wire recorder.

What’s it like behind a waning moon?

Is there anybody there with you?

The dog—is he there too?

I admit it, I’m a little anxious now—

he always loved

     you more than me—

please say he is.

(You leave a gap in case they answer,

then, as instructed, you play it backwards,

the tape, again and again.)

(Nothing but the empty wire, again and again.)

(You creep up on it, hope to catch it spooling.)

(Nothing but the empty wire.)


White Noise

In the October 1920 issue of the American Magazine,

Thomas Alva Edison revealed that he was developing

an electrical device—to speak with the dead.

yellow, pink,

artefacts of silence, all

discarnates of the airwaves;

the flim-flam of your thirsty goblin smile

through glass and rain

and mirrored

extra-terrestrial miles

at 1485 KHz (the famed Jürgenson Frequency)

I scry for you, in the ether

The Binary of the Dead

In 1940s Grosseto, Italy, Marcello Bacci claimed

to be able to pick up the voices of the deceased

on a vacuum tube radio; sometimes

these whisperings were accompanied

by unexplained tapping. 

the concrete cracks with the staccato motions

of your hidden code


dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot

your alarm call reaches me,

reminding me, how

your dead are never quite your dead


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