7th February 2019
While working in a well-known pharmacy chain, Jeremy Dixon found surprising inspiration.
His poems were written on the ends of till rolls and smuggled out in his socks.
Anyone who has ever worked in retail will recognise the characters and situations, and the management-speak absurdities; but Jeremy also brings his perspective as a queer writer to bear, with witty and wicked results.
review from Poetry Book Society:
Treading the line between wry absurdism and abject despair, In Retail is like reading anthropological field-notes from what should be an alien world but is, unfortunately, our own.
Catch a reading:
1st June, Bristol, Jeremy is joining the Polari Salon tour at Waterstones, 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead Bristol, BS1 3XD. 1st June 7pm FREE but ticketed: tickets
That’s my voice on the Tannoy
doing the end of day:
This store will close in ten minutes
so please make your way
to the tills at the front
of the shop to pay. Except when
I release the blue button Suzie
Dispenser says it was far too soft
and garbled, nobody understood.
Jeremy Dixon, poem by poem, every day, tries to make morning of mourning, entering our pain as sellers and customers, creating a humane custom—an absolute virtue of putting things back exactly where you found it. If we really must adhere to ‘uniform and appearances rules,’ these poems beautifully discern an ostentation somehow even in that capricious regularity. Dixon reminds us that poems restore desire, that they seek transgression, that they discover their own forms, and dares the reader as a kind of store detective to search our lines more. There we will find the real work being done.
Jeremy Dixon’s collection is a delicious inventory of the interaction between people and objects on shelves. His writing shows precision, humility and compassion for shoppers and fellow-staff who struggle to navigate a world in which souls are bought and sold. This is an elegant portrait of a world little celebrated in poetry, original in insight and form.
Jeremy Dixon’s astute unflinching observations of life in a well-known high street chemist brilliantly illustrate the experience of working in such a setting. We’ve all been customers, but how many of us have experienced the other side of the till? In Retail brings home with humour and compassion the annoying absurdities of working for a large corporation, and trying to please the ever-varying public. How do you address a customer after hours of repeating the same phrases over and over? There’s the recognisably distorted voice on the tannoy pronounced ‘far too soft’ and the customer announcement, ‘is there anyone here in charge?’ The security guard carrying an ‘Opium gift set’ and ‘peering through the L’Oréal stacks at a known thief’. The customer who simply has to confide, ‘oh I swore I wouldn’t say/anything to anyone’, and the ‘minor reality face/wearing a black beanie’ are all too familiar. You will discover and recognise so much about life in the here and now in Jeremy Dixon’s range of subtle, poignant and captivating poems.