The Parlour Guide to Exo-Politics

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Preeta, a little girl, walks out of a forest in Scotland. In that moment everything changes as, for the first time, humans encounter alien life. Whatever you're imagining is wrong. These poems rewrite dislocation: discussing literal aliens as refugees, Rachel Plummer explores boundaries, borders and bureaucracy. She challenges our understanding of ourselves, and asks us: What is a country? What is gender? What does it mean to be denied personhood? Preeta is at the centre of this work, and these fresh and imaginative poems show us how big questions impact the individual. When it comes to individual lives impacted by war, loss of homes and safety, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. Plummer reminds us that we are all people and we are all culpable. Rosamund Taylor, poet ‘The Parlour Guide to Exo-Politics’ is a piece of music by composer Matt Rogers. Working under the pseudonym ‘Gameshow Outpatient’, Rogers composed this electronica-inspired, four-movement piece for the acclaimed Scottish Clarinet Quartet (comprising musicians Alex South, Sally Day, Frances Barker and Nicola Long). It has been performed at various venues, including alongside Rachel Plummer’s spoken word narrative sequence at the Hidden Door arts festival in June 2017, and performances feature abstract video from film maker Matt Hulse. Inspired by Rogers’ composition, the narrative poem sequence of the same name seeks to lift a verbal narrative from the music’s explorations of communication, alienation, mathematics and technology, and to present the concept of contact with extra-terrestrial life as a metaphor for global displacement.

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Acknowledgements Thanks are due to Patience Agbabi, whose workshop on writing journeys and migration inspired the sonnet at the end of this collection, and to Hidden Door Arts Festival for hosting the first performance of this work at the Old Leith Theatre in June 2017. Poems from this collection have been performed at Shoreline of Infinity’s science fiction event Event Horizon, and at the God Damn Debut Slam. I am grateful to and humbled by the four members of the Scottish Clarinet Quartet, Alex South, Sally Day, Frances Barker and Nicola Long, along with composer Matt Rogers and film maker Matt Hulse. Their talent is an inspiration to us all and without them this pamphlet would not exist. Thanks to Jane Murray Bird and Gillian Baxendine, for their friendship and faith in me. And finally my gratitude, always, belongs to Rosamund Taylor, whose support, encouragement and editing has improved these poems immeasurably.