Meat Lovers is a book of poems on food, farming, and romantic folly, blending compassion and cruelty to explore the ordinary depravities of hunger and bloodlust.
The old station-holders used to castrate lambs
to wethers with their teeth – isn’t that your area
of interest? Hard men rousing on the muster
posing the evergreen question: to spit or swallow?
But think how tender those shepherds must have been
with their incisive surgery – the cutting kiss –
and all that bleating.
— ‘Mad Butcher’s Love Song’
This book takes a bite from the excesses of earthly flesh – first ‘Meat’, then ‘Lovers’.
‘Meat’ is a coming of age in which pony clubs, orphaned lambs and dairy-shed delirium are infused with playful menace and queer longings. Between bottle-fed care and killing-shed floors, the farm is a heady setting for love and death.
In ‘Lovers’, the poet casts a wry eye over romance, from youthful sapphic infatuation to seething beastliness. Sentimental intensity is anchored by an introspective comic streak, in which ‘the stars are watching us / and boy howdy are they judgmental’.
This collection of queasy hungers offers a feast of explosive mince & cheese pies, accusatory crackling, lab-grown meat and beetroot tempeh burger patties, all washed down with bloody milk or apple-mush moonshine. It teems with sensuous life, from domesticated beasts to the undulating mysteries of eels, as Hawkes explores uneasy relationships with our animals and with each other.
Tender and brutal, seductive and repulsive, Meat Lovers introduces a compelling new mode of hardcore pastoral.
‘Rebecca Hawkes is the unmatched empress of viscera. Thrillingly perverse, utterly compelling – you eat these poems like overripe peaches, or like your own tongue.’
— Freya Daly Sadgrove