Just Meat Not God is my debut full-length poetry collection, consisting of 80 Sonnet inspired by the paintings of Francis Bacon. It was written mostly in 2020 while under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic; I was drawn to the work of Francis Bacon due to his treatment of the body and brain in pain, and our mutual experiences of chronic lung issues. The book published with a launch event on April 28th 2022, 30 years to the day after the death of Francis Bacon.
Just Meat Not God was published by Hem Press in a limited edition of 100 copies, with cover design and typesetting by me.
“A series of ekphrastic sonnets on the paintings of Francis Bacon, JD Howse’s Just Meat Not God revels in filth and ecstasy. Conceived as a hauntological reading of Bacon’s extraordinary career, this full-length collection further explores the paintings’ relationship to sickness, homosexuality, and wider postwar philosophy. Writing through his own experience of neurodivergence and long-term illness during the pandemic, Howse grounds these themes in the physicality of the human body, following Bacon’s uncompromising eye for contortions and viscera. Imbuing the poetic form with energy readers may not have experienced since Berrigan’s sonnets, this debut announces a startling, fresh voice in contemporary UK poetry.”
Praise for Just Meat Not God:
“Just Meat Not God is a pulsing and delicate ekphrasis that is elegantly voiced through a broken jaw, the white space not measures of breath but of gasps. The poems are a theatre of cruelty, reminding us that we are not propelled towards death, but contort our way there through viscera and observation. This is a book that blisters and makes meat of the reader.”
- Prudence Bussey-Chamberlain, author of *retroviral
“Visceral and uncompromising: an embodied ekphrasis that illudes reduction to anything resembling one original but affirms, with every coagulation of its fleshy word hoards, the necessary and imperfect relationship between art and life. JD Howse brings an erotics of attention to paint and poetic language that dramatises and exclaims with febrile intensity apparently at its own ferocious fragility, raging even as ‘another depiction begins.’”
- Redell Olsen, author of Film Poems
“How does one give voice to a scream? In this extraordinary, exquisitely chilly collection, JD Howse elides the urge to make the scream ‘speak’, and instead negotiates with the traces it leaves behind. Punctuated by slashes reminiscent of those Bacon put through failed paintings, these sonnets meditate on yearning, intimacy, and alienation, or the failure to express these categories in any meaningful sense. There’s a courageous pessimism in Howse’s work that speaks so honestly: not only to Bacon’s paintings, with their endless appetite for extremity and masochism, but also to the flattened, gentrified, airbrushed, yassified neoliberalism within which we’re trapped, where even misery has lost its pleasure. The great achievement of this work is that it’s forced me to consider what a poetics of hopelessness might look like; it looks like a pulverised sensorium; a wide hole; an immense gaping orifice; a mouth and no air with which to form a scream.”
- Al Anderson, author of Tenderloin
“JD Howse’s Just Meat Not God is in turns visionary, visual, and ironic. Howse employs wit and humour - while maintaining a scholarly seriousness - to elevate Bacon’s themes of suffering, decay, and dismembered erotica. In a word: Brilliant!”
- Sarah Cave, author of like fragile clay
“I’ve had quotes from Just Meat Not God taped on my wall for over a year now and I keep returning to it again and again. John Cage wrote ‘a painting is not a record of what was said and what the replies were but the thick presence all at once of a naked self- obscuring body of history’ and Just Meat Not God is exactly this. An ecstatic ekphrastic sequence.”
- Cat Chong, author of Plain Air
“Just Meat Not God is a work of profound and political abjection. Howse leads us through a hall of mirrors and canvas, making us to track through the blood and paint inside and step out across the screaming landscapes of contemporary Britain. Forcing uncomfortable confrontations with the body both observed and felt, this is poetry of constant, broiling transmutation, as animal and devastating as Bacon’s own bound and twisting forms.”
- Kat Sinclair, author of Very Authentic Person