Human Townsperson, the debut collection by Liam Bates, centres around a heroic quest. The hero? Somebody. The quest’s objective? Unsure. Utilising Bates’ engaging and absurd poetics, Human Townsperson follows the journey of a poet leaving town bearing gear and supplies: a pack full of fantastic weaponry, potions and prescription medication. The work will be precarious and the costs grave, but out in the wilderness for long enough, maybe we’ll remember why we’re here.
PRAISE for Human Townsperson:
Reading a poem by Liam Bates is like embarking upon a mysterious mission. You don’t
know who the enemy is, or where you’re going, but the poet hands you a scroll and a sword
and an office stapler and sends you out to seek yourself.
— Caroline Bird
Bates makes ludic operations, life as endless side quests, magic potions and mysterious exchanges collide with the hyper-real. Intense invention is balanced with a compassionate sensibility and connection with the world. The voice is so charming and the experimentation worn so naturally that the moral challenge and heartfelt lyricism arrive by stealth and take your breath away.
— Luke Kennard
At the speed of human brain synapses Liam Bates’ poems in Human Townsperson zing around conceptually but always hold the dry wit at their centre. The poems constantly strive to make sense of a world that plays out as if it’s a dream state. As the book progresses we become aligned with Bates’ mode of thought, because it seems like the only sanity in a constantly discombobulating world. A book we all need, to guide us gently back to the ordinary from the bizarre times we’re in.
— Roger Robinson
To encounter these poems is to embark on a surreal quest, where the language of gaming and fantasy act as waymarkers to move deeper into our understanding of ourselves.
— Andrew McMillan