Matthew Haigh – Vampires  (Bad Betty Press)



Matthew Haigh – Vampires (Bad Betty Press)

Judges’ Comments

Vampires is a piece of trip literature. Fuelled by the infinitely reproducible goods of sweets and plastic figurines, it plunges into the heady themes of childhood, queerness, self-image, and grief. Haigh’s speakers praise the love of an aunt who was always in their corner, “in the steam from a Sunday roast, in the seat / of your love, in the rolling combs of light”. The poems fizz with the camp and the kitsch, Barbie and My Little Pony dolls (“relic of god”), the schlocky conventions of horror which “flickered in the tides / of my face”, and ultra-processed glucose: blood is transubstantiated into Cherry Slush Puppy, and grief into nineties nostalgia, where all “toys were toxic and smelled fucking great”.



Memory, you are an absent father. When you open a suitcase to remove sheaths of glass lit with holograms, shuffle and spread them before me, I cannot trust you. I was not always so sweet. She once shrank in the doorway from my poison tongue. What demonic enzyme was it swam inside her that we could not reach – could not burn or burst with loving words. I believed that just by fizzing around wild and aglow like all children I might convince her to live for me. In the garden, after dark, she piled on more hot dogs – each one a thick meat bullet sizzling with her name.

The 2022 Shortlists

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