Sacrifice Zones. Red Squirrel, 2020. [37 poems]
The poems in Samuel Tongue’s debut collection explore the meshwork and mess of living lives dependent on ‘sacrifice zones’: places, peoples, and animals that become expendable in the maintenance of civilised society. From medieval animal trials to extinctions in colonial Van Diemen’s land; from personal online data collection, to Quint’s Ahab-like obsession with killing sharks in Jaws, these poems trouble and are troubled by the cost of sacrifice.
If the ritual roots of sacrifice (sacer [holy]+ faciō [to do/make]) are intended to render the material world sacred, then what kind of religions are we caught up in now? With poems that muddy the religious and theological with the animal concerns of weevils, ticks, magpies, and whales, Tongue finds the beating engine at the heart of things.
In a review for Magma 78, Andre Bagoo describes the collection as “beautifully pivoted” raising “questions about truth and transformation; about what happens when we cross boundaries, pursue hope.”
- A review by Bridget Khursheed at Poet&Geek is available here.
The Nakedness of the Fathers. Broken Sleep: 2022. [24 poems]
“Samuel Tongue’s The Nakedness of the Fathers dexterously surveys the monster of capitalism via jaywalks, googleearth the ‘contagiousness’ of treadmills, sanitiser-slick supermarkets and the charade of prosperity. This is a landscape poetry ready and able to utilise the personal as a site of resistance, where father’s cry for ‘a mother in the dark’ and the world exists precariously, ‘a flux of ever-living fire.’ Linguistically rich and yet, where need be, capable of serrated directness, Tongue skilfully drifts through a network of forms. Impressively dialogic, at its heart, The Nakedness of the Fathers is a conversation made with others, from Derrida to Sontag. Crucially, Tongue is able to metabolise the complexities of violence whilst letting language have its say, maintaining a dignified tone against injustice. This is a learned poetics that is distinctly humane, communal and beautifully written.” James Byrne, The Caprices
Stitch. Tapsalteerie: 2018. [15 poems]
“Stitch is an impressive, wide-ranging pamphlet exploring the human exploitation of power, people and planet with bold lyric, form and tone. Tongue looks for the animal within us while questioning our treatment of animals, searches for spiritual belief while questioning the confinements of religion. This is poetry that should touch a raw nerve, spark a flame, call you awake.” Vicki Husband, Shortlisted for Saltire Poetry Prize.
- A review by Frank McHugh in The Bottle Imp is available here.
- A review by Helen Allison in Northwords Now is available here
Hauling-Out. London: Eyewear Publishing, 2016. [20 poems]
“Samuel Tongue’s forceful and wide-ranging Hauling-Out considers the mysterious whale, setting biblical quotations against international law […] Hauling-Out has many dimensions. One moving and ingenious poem describes the use of whale oil by soldiers in the Great War to keep their (doomed) feet ‘soft as ripe fruit’. I was particularly struck by Tongue’s imaginative return to the tides from which humans ‘first emerged gasping’.” Alison Brackenbury, PN Review 43:5 May-June 2017 Issue 235.
Edited Books and Journals
Tools of the Trade: Poems for New Doctors.
Edited by Lesley Morrison, John Gillies, Ali Newell and Samuel Tongue. Edinburgh: SPL & Polygon, 2019.
“Beautiful and truly thought-provoking”
Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt
New Writing Scotland: Sound of an Iceberg
No. 37. Edited by Susie Maguire and Samuel Tongue. ASLS, 2019.
New Writing Scotland: With Their Best Clothes On.
No. 36. Edited by Susie Maguire and Samuel Tongue. ASLS, 2018.