The five essays printed here are excerpted from Part I of Present Continuous, a book of prose written during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic between March 2020 and April 2021 in Lewisham, London.
The essays in the present volume were written between March 2020 and June 2020: the movement from spring to summer, from the first announcement of a national lockdown to the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the United States and the death of Belly Mujinga in the UK. Nearly two years on, following a seemingly endless series of virus variants and subvariants, an apparent shift from pandemic to endemic, and a kind of exhaustion of vocabulary and will, I hope they provide some sort of record, not just of where “we” were in 2020, but where “we” are – or might be – now. (David Grundy, London, January 2022)
“It’s 2018 and we’re still on a train out of London, it’s 1967 or 1970 and Coltrane and Ayler are still in their material form, it’s 1943 and Artaud’s letters spill their remainder on the page, it’s April 2020 and all those presences are gone but their traces remain in the split voice, the overtone, the greater frequency overwhelming that base note which no longer guides in circumscribed lines. The actual presence of actual ghosts, silver on the mirrors, lost poetry, the noise it makes. It’s from the condition of being in the abyss itself that we learn how to climb out of it.”