EX-CETERA presents an intense and intimate portrait of a romantic relationship, charting its chaotic course from the early days of heady, all-consuming young love, through to the inevitable break-up.
Relaying the sweet, shocking, and sad ephemera collected from the wreckage by the speaker of these poems, here is a book of opposites. Toxicity and tenderness intertwine. Passion struggles against psychotic illness. Happiness sits alongside violence. Fun and laughter are found among fear and mental breakdowns. The roles of ‘victim’ and ‘saviour’ become interchangeable. Carer turns abuser. Hope dwindles to despair.
Exploring themes of severe mental illness, suicidality, self-harm, domestic abuse, and addiction, EX-CETERA immortalises the minutiae of one explosive love in savage detail and invites the reader to decide how far is too far when all you want is to be loved.
Praise for EX-CETERA
“HLR has done it again. Another brilliant work from this brilliant writer. EX-CETERA may be a highly personal collection of poetry, but it is real, relatable, visceral, and relayed in the vernacular of sex, death, and trauma. These poems go straight for the jugular.
There’s a voyeuristic feel to many of these poems, yet the playful use of experimental as well as traditional forms always headbutts the reader away from the familiar. The poem’s subjects cover ‘coffin shopping & an error in a cryptic crossword clue’, picking out one’s funeral dress ‘the colour of slight embarrassment’, and repeating the self-care mantra ‘I am not a lasagne’.
The humour in places is so dark it sucks the reader into its black hole, but the existential void HLR has created here from love lost and torn is a place to wallow in the wonder of her words. And of her survival, despite it all.”
— JP Seabright, author of Fragments from Before the Fall and Traum/A
"The author of History of Present Complaint returns with another essential collection. In EX-CETERA, HLR takes a scalpel to her past relationships, dissecting and displaying them in visceral relief. Examined through the lens of her personal experiences with borderline personality disorder, HLR lays bare the fragile sinews which bind human beings together, posing the question of why it's so ingrained in our nature to destroy each other the closer we get. With jet-black humour, an unflinching gaze, and tremendous emotional insight, this collection is an intimate study of the sacrifices we're all willing to make to be loved."
— Rick White, author of Talking to Ghosts at Parties
“HLR is a poet like no other. Painfully honest, playful, beautiful and brutal, the poems in EX-CETERA are the literary equivalent of being given a lipstick-smeared pint to hold while its owner lets you in on the most intimate details of a doomed former relationship.”
— Katie Oliver, author of I Wanted To Be Close To You
“HLR has written another brilliantly harrowing poetry book, this time centred around a toxic but intensely passionate relationship. Forget ‘star-crossed’—these lovers are doomed meteors hurtling to earth. With the world burning around them, they spin off in a montage of sex, drugs, booze, and dangerous psychopathies, only to boomerang back where they started and begin again.
EX-CETERA is a Russian nesting doll of love, anguish, and chaos—and by the time we open the final figurine, all that remains is a smouldering, love-spent heart. These poems are raw, pure, heart-wrenching, and crafted so tenderly that their emotional truths become indisputable. It’s quite rare that a book will both devastate me and keep me glued to the page, but EX-CETERA certainly has accomplished both these things. I highly recommend this book.”
— C.W. Blackwell, author of River Street Rhapsody and Song of the Red Squire
"To those who can relate to the story depicted in EX-CETERA, which will certainly be many of us to varying degrees of heart-breaking recognition, this book of blunt and painfully gorgeous poetry almost reads like a horror story.
It is a rare artist who tears away the layers of their flaws and insecurities to this extent, and who then has the courage to lay out the discarded skin and tissue, their innermost self left bare and wide open, and allows the reader to witness the true, unadulterated result. HLR is one of those rare artists."
— Jack Moody, author of Crooked Smile
HLR (she/her) is a prize-winning working-class poet from North London. Her debut collection History of Present Complaint (First Cut Poetry) was longlisted in the Poetry Book Awards 2022. She is a commended winner of the National Poetry Competition 2021, won the Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition 2021, and was longlisted in the Plough Prize 2022 and Mslexia Poetry Competition 2022. Her work has been published by The London Magazine, Poetry Wales, Bad Lilies, and many others.
Read more of her work at www.treacleheart.com and find her on Twitter: @HLRwriter.