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Released 31st July, 2024 // 76 pages // 978-1-916938-33-5 // RRP £11.99

 

Horse is a science fiction hybrid book exploring ecological trajectories and the role of participation and witness. Fragments from culture and communications in the 21st century are being examined by an Archivist on a Space Station orbiting the Earth. Rushika Wick's poems bring together the natural, technological, and social dimensions of disaster, while still bearing traces of humanity, like a message in a bottle. Horse reminds us that language is itself a biological record.

 

PRAISE for Horse:

In Horse, Rushika Wick doesn’t just search for a new ecopoetic, she demands that poetry work harder within the folds of its own artifice, offering a hauntingly generative collection that’s neither extinct nor extant. Here, Wick highlights the biases that govern the human imagination – its technologies and texts – despite our best attempts at forms of ‘deep listening’ and sustained attention. This interstellar archive, a multi-species anthology of dreams, transcripts, meals, and diary entries, contains epic qualities as worlds are measured against words, messages against meaning, life against its documentation. A feat of innovation.
   — Kate Elspeth Simpson

 

It strikes me that Horse is more than a book about our unfolding environmental catastrophe. It is a book about the way this catastrophe is mediated: through technology, through language, through our infinitely fallible human subjectivities.
The poems, framed as an 'archival analysis of interpersonal narratives on the earth’s ecological demise' perform a subtle archaeology upon tantalising fragments of experience. As readers we witness the collapse of earth’s interconnected biosystems in vivid, microdot detail.  
Wick’s evocation of this collapse is precise yet wholly strange; the language of a disaster so unprecedented and total that we cannot help but process it as hallucinatory; simultaneously nightmarish and dream-like.
The central conceit of Horse is a collective act of sense-making; but the poems expose the illusory quality of that aspiration: any ‘sense’ we are able to glean is destined to be fugitive and ephemeral, and yet the stunning quality of Wick’s phrase making has the capacity to jolt us from our cocoons of self-protective disconnect, surprising us time and again with the doomed majesty of everything we’ve lost.
In this sense Horse is a profound grief-work. One that also wrestles with what it means to grieve in writing and through language. How much of this loss can a word hold? Who and what is writing for in an age of extinction? Wick does not seek to resolve but to provoke these questions, creating a haunted and vulnerable space in which memory, mourning and imagination intersect.
   — Fran Lock

 

This is a work of rare precision, setting a parallel between primatology and the history of Horse.  Here is a science fiction narrative in verse that lays out questions of conservation in a world ravaged by climate change and war and asks what is left?  Dian as a namesake for the controversial conservationist and primatologist Dian Fossey is present.  There is an archivist studying the ways in which the archives impact her.  In this deeply philosophical reflection on human nature, I find myself reminded of SJ Fowler's The Great Apes.