Blood, Ash, and Anvils: Teige Maddison’s ‘Here Lies Fuscia’

Written by Patrick Green |

Here Lies Fuscia is Tiege Maddison’s (Falmouth University’s very own) debut poetry collection. The pamphlet includes a series of poems which gracefully relate intense and sometimes painful emotions and events.

Let me start this by saying that this is the first pamphlet I have read from cover to cover in one sitting. I was mesmerised by the delicate lines scattered across the page and the infusion of everyday moments with blood, ash, and anvils; the stuff of this pamphlet, and this world.

The poems connect the reader to the writer beautifully, giving a real sense of intimacy when reading through. There is a refreshing honesty throughout and no attempt at undue sentimentality. The Alcohol is Rising Againfor example takes the reader to a small, fleeting moment of personal resonance. The moment itself feels intimate, but the implications ripple outwards. The vibrancy of:

‘simmering in a blood of

the night before’

invades this quiet moment ‘on a pillow’, opening up for the reader the world of the poet. This starting poem gently raises so many questions – a fitting opener for the book. He captures human relations which are clearly intensely personal, yet somehow simultaneously makes them relate to the reader. 

One of the recurring themes throughout the poems which gives it a unique tone is this idea of a ‘charcoal person’ introduced in Burning Charcoal People. This haunting imagery of human relationships – where we are etched onto the skin as ‘dead ash’ – act as traces of relationships when Maddison writes of the ‘small flakes’ which are:

‘jagged brittle wakes of the bigger

part that once

owned them.’

The delicacy of the language used takes nothing away from the palpable pain expressed in the poem.

One of my favourite aspects of this poetry is how words dance across the paper, playing in the drama of the scenes being related. The words as black marks take on as much a role as the language they signify. This I knowparticularly employs this interaction between language and symbol as the final three lines are slowly forced apart by that invisible presence too many of us know. One Night You Drew the Moonhauntingly introduces a constellation-like cluster of letters, inviting readers to hunch over the page, frown, and try to work out the dot-to-dot collection of signs. Maddison makes the reader work here, filling in gaps, linking up letters; we are engaged fully in the process of reading this poem. It is a pleasure.

The poems are gritty. They talk of ‘severed veins’, an ‘addict’s anvil’, ‘a lover fated to emulsify shit’. We are immersed, not only in grit, but in the every day. The lines speak of:

‘Weetabix, our books, our empty

cigarette packets and weed bags.’

We are given moments and whispers of moments which speak the poet to us in a real, honest, and vulnerable way.

The tone and the content align to provide snapshots of a life which readers will undoubtedly manage to see themselves in. We are allowed into highly personal episodes of life and invited to find our own pain, joy, and love in them. The pamphlet charts a life (and lives) embroiled in relationships, loss, drugs – essentially, the things we touch and are touched by every day. Yet, there is no hint of morose realism: instead we are faced with a quiet and subtle beauty.

Tiege is a co-founder of Sea Post Press and Word Zoo – fuel for Falmouth’s poetry scene.