Improvised Explosive Device is a startlingly innovative exploration of extremism, hate crime and violence by poet Arji Manuelpillai. In this powerful and unsettling first collection, Manuelpillai presents a vision of the contemporary haunted by Melville’s image of the whale – the terror beneath the surface of the sea. His uncompromising focus on violence is laced with gallows humour and the surreal, framed against the mundane detritus of modern life: two boys playing Mortal Kombat; a field of old trainers; the lonely glare of laptop light; a suspicious looking package in the back seat of a van.
The poems in Improvised Explosive Device emerged through research and interviews with academics, sociologists, and former members of extremist groups and their families – from the English Defence League and the National Front to ISIS and the Tamil Tigers. These complex, unnerving texts ask a series of important questions. What drives a person to commit a radical act of violence? How is that violence mediated through screens and social media? And how does the British government police marginalised groups? Improvised Explosive Device is a brave, surprising and risk-taking book; it will change the way you look at the world.
Arji Manuelpillai is a poet, performer and creative facilitator based in London. His poetry has appeared in magazines including Poetry Wales, The Rialto and Bath Magg, and his debut pamphlet, Mutton Rolls, was published by Out-Spoken Press. Arji was shortlisted for the Oxford Prize, the Live Canon Prize, the National Poetry Prize and the Winchester Prize, and was runnerup in the Robert Graves Prize. He is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and London Stanza. He received an Arts Council England award to develop his creative practice and worked with Hannah Lowe as part of the Jerwood Arvon Mentoring Programme.
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