Mark Scott is one of our finest American poets.
And here is, I think, his most challenging work. From the first
sentence of A Bedroom Occupation we
are taken by a voice that is unsentimental and unafraid of the
dark on a nighttime tour of solitude.
Tricky language about the sticky stuff: this
is bedroom-and-beyond talk from the past master, the rake, the
raider, the witty and lonely rider; a bard's body work, least
love's locutions. You have never read such confidences. John
Donne, meet Mark Scott.
Scott’s A Bedroom Occupation
sounds and is authentic and kept me enthralled.
Molly Bloom sings along with his wonderful rhythms—a strange
association but strong.
Mark Scott has written a beautiful and terrifying
book. Beautiful because he has both a reverence for and mastery
of words that makes the act of reading a pleasure on par with
eating (no higher praise from me), and terrifying because A
BEDROOM OCCUPATION honestly answers that pillow-talk chestnut,
'What are you thinking?' with an honesty and rigor and humor
and darkness not for the faint of heart. Is that afterglow or
is the house on fire? Scott's work and writing have an almost
narcotic power. I want to hear his voice.
—David Rakoff, author of DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE
True love? There may be such a thing. But truthful
love? Ah. Now we’re talking scary. These letters from
a self-described “faithless man” are intelligent,
intimate, and illuminating.
—Molly Giles, author of Iron Shoes
The subtitle, “Love Elegies,” and
the very look on the page of this
carefully titrated series of two dozen amorous programs (somewhere
between the seductive and the sermonical, their diction demotic,
their temper short, their costume loose-fitting and ready for
action) is a directive clue: we are in Horatian country, a disabused
(because already abused) region of
discourse extending from Tibullus and Propertius to Ovid and
Juvenal. But though his first book of poems, Tactile
Values, was redolent with discreet behaviors and
quizzical sagesse, young Mark Scott
pays no respects to the Roman erotic
elegy so tellingly to be noted in his second: who ever overheard
glossy Horace adjuring himself, as this argument runs, “How
out in front of it can you be? That’s the real question.
You can forget your conflict-avoidance and your business-models.
/ That’s all academic. This is the real world we’re
talking, boots on the ground. . . . Save the lecture.”
The words exchanged are bywords and passwords, anything but
polite, though often bitterly juste: “Mars / has canals,
they say. Well so the fuck does Venice, / and look at the Venetians.
They’re drowning, sinking, getting muddy. The whole world
is mud.” And these exchanges occur between a company of
out-for-sex buddies and fair-weather girlfriends (Cynthia indeed,
speaking of Propertius, and who in hell is Paul?) with occasional
outtakes by Dickinson and Swift. Drôle de
monde. But what can you call a world where the
only knowledge is cracked or crooked, the only ignorance vulnerable
or virulent? I call it comical, all right, even cynical, but
the most heart-breaking love poetry since that other Empire
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