Improvised Explosive Device


Arji Manuelpillai assures us this is not an Improvised Explosive Device as he packs his poetry in a duffle bag and invites us to accompany him through the everyday encounters – ‘real’ and ‘pixelated’- that illuminate the sometimes click-fast shift from butterfly-watcher to butterfly-killer but also the slow accumulation of the ‘dark spots’ deposited by hate, the ‘raised eyebrow’ of the CCTV outside a block of flats or humiliation carried as an heirloom. Together, his poems create an exquisitely layered, and moving, exploration of what brings individuals – from very different contexts but a shared world – to acts of violence and war. This collection of poetry is not an IED but it tears down the facades of easy explanations and lays bare what lies beneath as powerfully as if it were.

Hilary Pilkington, University of Manchester

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SKU: 9781913850081 Category: Tags: ,


Improvised Explosive Device is a startlingly innovative exploration of extremism, hate crime and violence by poet Arji Manuelpillai. In this powerful and unsettling first collection, Manuelpillai presents a vision of the contemporary haunted by Melville’s image of the whale – the terror beneath the surface of the sea. His uncompromising focus on violence is laced with gallows humour and the surreal, framed against the mundane detritus of modern life: two boys playing Mortal Kombat; a field of old trainers; the lonely glare of laptop light; a suspicious looking package in the back seat of a van.The poems in Improvised Explosive Device emerged through research and interviews with academics, sociologists, and former members of extremist groups and their families – from the English Defence League and the National Front to ISIS and the Tamil Tigers. These complex, unnerving texts ask a series of important questions. What drives a person to commit a radical act of violence? How is that violence mediated through screens and social media? And how does the British government police marginalised groups? Improvised Explosive Device is a brave, surprising and risk-taking book; it will change the way you look at the world.”Refusing glib analysis and easy answers, Improvised Explosive Device is a work of radical empathy, fuelled by honesty and compassion, both for those stirred to violence against minorities, and those who suffer from it.” Rishi Dastidar”The project of Arji Manuelpillai’s Improvised Explosive Device leans into the mighty disciplines of poetry, sociology, and reportage to formulate an arresting debut which contests the ways we’re conditioned to internalise notions of terrorism, nationalism and belonging…a bold and startling new work.” Anthony Anaxagorou.

Additional information

Weight 160 g
Dimensions 21.6 × 13.8 × 1.4 cm


Penned in the Margins







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