Cargo of Limbs (Hercules Editions, 2019)

CoverMartyn’s Cargo of Limbs is a “brilliant revision” (Choman Hardi) of lines from Book Six of Virgil’s Aeneid. Two Western journalists document in their different ways the ordeal of migrants in search of safety in Europe. The tone and narrative – as in the original – is dream-like and nightmarish. As they reach the shoreline, this is not the River Styx but the Mediterranean and the ferryman’s boats – “the black dinghy squeals / the leaking boat groans” – promise danger more than escape. “Martyn Crucefix knows in his bones that “what / happens is what’s true” and his liquid, propulsive poem records, like the accompanying photographs by Syrian artist Amel el Zakout, the horrible adventure of survival. Cargo of Limbs sees or struggles to see; it is a lament and a rebuke, a concise saga of our savage time” – Dan O’Brien

Published by Hercules Editions, October 2019: poems by Martyn Crucefix; images by Amel el Zakout; essay by Choman Hardi.

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Read Ian Brinton’s review here: ‘In the deeply moving and angry tones of Martyn Crucefix’s Cargo of Limbs he can raise a camera to carry us, as readers, across a border into a world of which we should be aware.’

Read Sheenagh Pugh’s review here: ‘the books I have seen from this press are tiny, beautifully crafted jewels. At the end of this one, Andras is sufficiently moved by what he sees to stop his cameraman filming. His reaction is understandable but misguided;, for just as Amel Alzakout’s shots give us a unique insight into her journey, so the words in which Crucefix commemorates the “great cargo of limbs” crossing the ocean humanises them and brings them closer to us’

Read Nick Cooke’s review here: ‘The title cleverly and hauntingly fuses the commercial and the human, while pointing to the fact that the human element has in fact been de-humanised, in a bedraggled metonymy, as if the people involved were reduced to a scrum-like entanglement, suggestive even of dismembering. That sense of violence soon escalates as the poem gets into gear’