Books

Patterflash by Adam Lowe review: Acrobatic and winking poems of queer life

Patterflash by Adam Lowe is a poetry collection that glories in the language of the queer underground

Patterflash by Adam Lowe

Patterflash is defined by Adam Lowe in his glorious glossary of Polari as: “Gossip, chat, ostentatious or pretentious speech; the lyrics pouring out of my gob”. This cheeky gobbet is an apt representation of the delightful poems in this collection.

With some poems written in full or sprinkled Polari, Lowe revives that old slangy argot used by the gays of yore: ‘vada, ‘pooker’, ‘lallies’, to name a few. His verse is acrobatic and winking – describing deliciously amorous encounters and the raptures of queer nightlife in Manchester. He delves into the beautiful mundanities of truly loving other people for what they are.

Fashioning assorted personas and mythos, Lowe slinks between the discomfort and joy of various guises. There is the lovely Gingerella, who legs it from a date, after gobbling up a free three-course meal. Maroon in Blonde features Lowe’s gorgeous four-year old self, revelling in a magical expedition with his dad to purchase a long golden wig that will make his heart sing. 

Throughout the collection, Lowe celebrates acts of protest, whilst attending to the insidious pressures of living as a queer, mixed-race person within an authoritarian climate. However, as Lowe states, “We exist and we are watching.” In the face of it all, these poems rollick across the page, offering elation in their very being.

Annie Hayter is a writer and a poet

Patterflash by Adam Lowe is out now (Peepal Tree Press, £9.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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