Ahren Warner's latest poetry collection is an incisive, darkly comic look at the tangled web of identity and performance involved in contemporary life.I’m totally killing your vibes is a book compulsively drawn to a world where the squelch and seep of feelings frustrate our safety nets of logic and ethics, and violence and inadequacy are so often the consequences of love.
It is a book of poems concerning the exuberant performance, and the manic dissolution, of the self. It moves through the slow, fragmented dissolve of a relationship, via a tableau vivant of assorted, itinerant characters, and an extended, darkly comic dialogue with the feedback of literary, academic, and everyday life. A final, long-form prose poem extends the book’s interrogation of consumption as our contemporary mode of self-construction, of masculinity, and of desire.
'As I read it I felt I had wandered from a party and stumbled into something vulnerable, something human and real beyond the clinking of glasses and fake laughter. That I had gotten the chance to hide in a closet and listen to a conversation I needed to hear but couldn’t quite access on my own… a conversation between the speaker and the other, and most importantly – a conversation between Mr. Warner and himself. What a strange joy to be invited in.’ – Matthew Dickman, on The sea is spread and cleaved and furled
'Warner’s dexterous overlaying of tone paints our multi-channel reality. Two of the three long works comprising I’m Totally Killing Your Vibes began life as voiceovers for art films, yet the laconic exchanges live exuberantly on the page... Warner’s iridescence of feeling stokes the life force of this book.' - Sylee Gore, Harriet Reviews (Poetry Foundation)
"A messy, disturbing triumph in the traditions of Arthur Rimbaud and John Berryman: how Le Bateau ivre or The Dream Songs would read if they’d been written today. It too could be the anthem of a generation." — Fiona Sampson, The Guardian
"There is a breathtaking sense of formal ingenuity, irreverent wit, and unapologetic erudition in Warner’s lines. As in his previous collections, allusion occupies an almost central position: the poet emerges a bricoleur of sorts as he generates a cross-hatched poetic landscape from disparate sources. Warner traces the performance and dissolution of the self through poems that are both ludic and sincere; manic and darkly comic; subversive and deeply vulnerable." – Shalini Sengupta, Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Winter 2022
'Warner’s verse appears to discuss this collocation of scarified surfaces – their bitty, cracked, granular noise, redolent of industrial disuse, and abuse – with the hygienic space in which art is consumed... this is poetry (it is poetry) of extraordinary poise and power.' – Vidyan Ravinthiran, The Poetry Review.
‘Theatrical, toxic and oddly gorgeous… Warner moves from playful social observation, through reflections on memory and artifice, to a near-Baudelairean spleen, his games with language and ideas as serious in their investigations of the given world as any philosophy.’ – John Burnside, PBS Bulletin
'These are not poems for the fainthearted, but they are balanced with a dry wit… an exciting evisceration of our present time.' – Kate Noakes, The North