This is my first time reading any of Stefan Mohamed’s words and poems and what an introduction it was. I want more. The Marketplace of Ideas when read is a collective statement on the visible horrors of modern technology, communication, existence and self expression. Albeit in a highly entertaining way. Anyone of these poems is so dense, assertive, dark, illuminating and comical than the entirety of Black Mirror. It’s a seriously good read.
The entire pamphlet is a patchwork of sound bites you could hear or read at any millennial social event, in your own head, on the many social media platforms or in this case any millennial social activity or isolated moment that Mohamed has observed and experienced with unerring accuracy. This is an absurd and dangerous and dull world Mohamed portrays and he let’s us know that he’s living it. He is seeing what’s to come and there’s nothing to be done about it. Cynical isn’t the word. He uses humour as a way of coping and thus allowing us to cope with the truth. The pamphlet highlights how starved we are of real human communication. In Sitcom, he taps into the colloquial dialogue we have all become so guilty of using in regards to what’s on the latest streaming service or what film to watch. Big Mood and Huge Mood try to make light of the road map civilisation is following and further confirms that we are all becoming misfits on our quest to be individual. Mohamed is taking a swipe at millennial culture and himself. These poems are constantly observing and critiquing and contradicting each other, but not offering any solutions. A true mirror of the online world which is now scarily bleeding into the real one.
Hallmark Moment is another of the stand out of the poems which balances the concept of of our growing numbness towards the cruel and repugnant behaviour of our fellow man. He never gives us a break from showing us how absurd reality is, his verses make the absurd seem derivative and magically real. Reading this, like after viewing a great piece of modern art, it feels immoral to reveal spoilers. There is not one poem in this collection that you won’t relate to.
Stefan Mohamed is a modern day Twain or Chaucer. A misanthropic social assassin, who, although winking and smiling, surreptitiously has you, me and everyone in his cross-hairs. These are not poems to be read or binged. They are to be digested like a bitter medicine, designed to wake you up.
Do read it. It makes you realise you are not alone in this dark alternate timeline and I promise you, if you stick with it past the first few poems, there is something beyond good to be inhaled.
The Marketplace of Ideas is available now, published by Stewed Rhubarb