Limits of Control

Steve Spence

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RRP £8.99




Suddenly a bulky white shape loomed up ahead of us and
we flashed on the second torch. It’s very useful to have
eyes sensitive enough to see by moonlight if you happen
to be an owl. Clearly I am not dead but it’s as well that
the world thinks otherwise. To focus sharply both near and
far is a luxury you can live without yet there’s no way of
safely provoking a volcano and then controlling it. Let us
turn back to Homer for a moment. There was something
abnormal about the whole business yet they appear to have
left within ten minutes of the last murder. Sunlight can be
blotted out for days, weeks or even months. Talking of
which, you might like to consider the beneficial qualities
of clouds. There is more to laying down a rubby dubby
trail than just hanging a bag over the side of the boat.

 (‘It’s an idea that promotes hostility’)


In this extraordinary sequence of prose poems, coral reefs fall from the sky, volcanoes smoulder and pirates come to power in Britain.

Combining montage techniques with reckless interventions, Steve Spence mashes up the worlds of robotics, banking, fishing, optometry, entomology, climate change, speech synthesis and meteorology to create a dizzyingly contemporary poetics – and a new form of nonsense. As entertaining as it is politically engaged, Limits of Control speaks to the challenging predicament we find ourselves in: ‘Things cannot go on as if nothing has happened yet the events which follow are even more strange.’


“In his new collection Limits of Control [Spence] presents short prose poems that splinter and fragment before your eyes and ears, slipping from music therapy to oil in the ocean…”
Ian McMillan, The Verb, BBC Radio 3 (Listen back)

“Rarely have I read a work that manages to represent the complexities of contemporary experience so completely and truthfully. More than that, the experience of reading the collection mirrors its content – I felt anxieties, uncertainties and relief not simply because they were described well but because Spence knows exactly how to weave disjointed ideas into a semi-coherence so unnerving that it lingers like a horrific, beautiful vision. Anyone with an interest in contemporary poetry should buy this collection.”
Lindsey Holland, Tears in the Fence

Limits of Control

Cover design by Henry Simmonds

ISBN 978-0-9565467-8-4
Published 01.02.11
Pages 80
RRP £8.99

Filed under *Special offers*, Books, Poetry collections, Steve Spence

poems that splinter and fragment

Ian McMillan

About the author

Steve Spence

Steve Spence lives in Plymouth and co-organises live poetry group The Language Club. His reviews and poetry have appeared in Great Works, Shearsman, Stride, Tears in the Fence, Tenth Muse and The Rialto. He was assistant editor of Terrible Work magazine for four issues and in 2007 completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Plymouth. His debut book, A Curious Shipwreck (Shearsman, 2010), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.