HTML Backgorund Color

  About   /  Archive   /   Seasons   /  Print   /  Tenement   /  Shop




an excerpt from a book called

(on prescription drugs)

“A compulsive and rare combination of fun and harrowing. Searing with insight and fizzing between neurotic and contemplative, this is such a reeling and brilliantly experimental creation, both gnostic and inane, delivered with the mangled dexterity of an online existentialist, marooned forever in the comments section.”
                —Dr. David SPITTLE

From the mysterious recesses of the mind (or is that brain?) comes the urge to fix our sadness! Drugs are the answer, allied with literature. Legal, prescribed drugs, by hurried doctors which reroute synapses in the consciousnesses of millions of human beings. What is the poetry of this ubiquitous but hidden malforming of the already overblown 21st human mental experience? In England, of all places? Who knows. But SJ Fowler’s inventive espousing of fiction, poetry, illustration and found-text, as one singular literary undertaking, offers up the mess and hope of searching. A choose-your-own-adventure novel into the pits of your cognisance, this truly original book of confusion and consolation, as generously vulnerable as it is challenging, is by turns sad, funny, abstract and painfully clear. What emerges is YOU: the writer, the reader, the patient, the doctor, the doubt and decision, and how to newly express this, a life of the mind… on prescription drugs. See below for an exclusive excerpt from the work; purchase the book here.

The pill is pleasant.
It is not a black hole. It is a white hole with black edges.

Is that what I mean? 
An antagonism of the mind, as well as the body, is best found
where it is unexpected?
You can say you’re not lying, because it doesn’t matter now if 
you are.

Of course, I must now relate what is inevitable, and describe the object in question. The tiny object that is constantly amused by its matrons and patrons. By its very object it taunts you. Like an unnamed peril surrounding an open palm, about to dart into its centre, like an insect that might be venemous. The white circle ant. The wingless loop moth. A little dead wasp above you and upon you that comes to life just when you were not able to look away and just when you began to feel unwell. It’s a small item, a shape if nothing else, an entity that can affect so much because it is said to be more potent and quieting than the feeling that has brought it into play. It is alleviation and mitigation, you hope. A wee white quell. Am I (is it) being too ambiguous?


1. A small round mass of solid medicine for swallowing whole.
“an overdose of sleeping pills”

synonyms: tablet, capsule, caplet, pellet, lozenge pastille;

A tedious or unpleasant person.

Small slippages you cannot perceive start up like a motor. There comes an everyday impairment of perception, like a loved one putting on weight. You do start to put on a bit of weight. No one notices but those who notice. 

How can a thing so small create such modification in a body so large? You don’t believe it, really. What is  adjusting? There are reasons humans did not believe in cells and molecules and neurons and other invisibles. But if this doesn’t convince you, you won’t be convinced.

3. Tablet is a pharmaceutical oral dosage form (OSD). Tablets may be defined as the solid unit dosage form of medicament or medicaments with suitable excipients and prepared either by molding or by compression. It comprises a mixture of active substances and excipients, usually in powder form, pressed or compacted from a powder into a solid dose. The excipients can include diluents, binders or granulating agents, glidants (flow aids) and lubricants to ensure efficient tabletting; disintegrants to promote tablet break-up in the digestive tract; sweeteners or flavours to enhance taste; and pigments to make the tablet visually attractive or aid in visual identification of an unknown tablet. A polymer coating is often applied to make the tablet smoother and easier to swallow, to control the release rate of the active ingredient, to make it more resistant to the environment (extending its shelf life), or to enhance the tablet’s appearance.

You say to the tablet, I’d like that too. I’m v aware of the complexity of what you’re doing, and know that it’s not easy. but I’m grateful for it.

Here are 12 ways
your problems
are your own fault

Born too late to explore the world
Born too early to explore the universe
Born just in time for this

Show me your shy office
where your heart is blue

Show me your dark valley
where your heart is blood

Show me your dark heart
where brains > hearts

Show me the cup from which to drink
room temperature mercury.

Do you:

a) Accept you have already decided the pills are better than the feeling, and take one today.

Turn to the next page.


b) Delay one more week and think hard about what the pill really is.

Turn back two pages.

SJ FOWLER is a writer, poet and artist based in London, exploring the possibilities of contemporary literary and experimental poetry, prose, visual literature and performance. His work covers a variance of subjects, but is subject led, using different writing techniques and methods as best fits things like boxing, prisons, prescription drugs, animals and humans, violence, museums and history, collaboration, illustration and language itself. See here.


Submissions     ︎      ︎

Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

Mailing List