Adam Fieled: When You Bit

I read this book while travelling first class on a train from Stockholm to Gavle in Sweden last month but that’s another story. At seventy-odd pages, When You Bit (OTOLITHS, 2008) is a good hour’s read, if you pace yourself properly.

In fact, Fieled has made the job even easier, dividing the book into three sections, perhaps to suggest a separation into three discreet voices, though I would suggest the poems’ ‘narrator’ is actually Fieled all along.

Each section contains twenty what I would call indie sonnets, or at least, poems with fourteen lines. This is not to suggest that the works are arbitrary in nature – traditional rhyme is often employed, though at other times the imposed structure plays against the flow of the poems, especially in the third section.

While it was David Gedge of the Wedding Present who so memorably sang the line ‘Two’s company but three have a better time’, here we find Fieled exploring the concept of a poetic threesome with more complex results.

Some poems references to bands including New Order (‘Blue Monday’) and Big Star (‘Sister Lovers’, ‘Big Black Car’), hopefully recovering the the latter from the hatchet job done to ‘In The Street’ by Cheap Trick’s theme song for That 70s Show. I really like the easy name-dropping in these poems, and their economy.

At times there is a strong confessional tone in the voice of these poems. I felt at other times that I was a voyeur inside a voyeuristic game, an intriguing game Fieled is playing with the language of sexuality: binaries (‘Off’), trinities (‘Charnel Smoke’) and threesomes (‘Three Sets of Teeth’).

However, it is the loneliness of these poems, their vulnerability or at least their performance of self-revealation that I found most interesting. I recommend checking out Adam’s blog, Stoning the Devil, which contains some fine poetic rants. He’s also written an essay for Cordite on Post-Avant Poetry.

Wowee Zowee!


  1. i’m also a big fan of adam’s poetry, & i’ll have to order a copy of this one.

    btw there’ll be a few of his pieces in fourW again this year (alongside your own).

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