The Marketplace of Ideas by Stefan Mohamed


A hysterical transmission from a world in permanent crisis, by the poet and wizened elder millennial Stefan Mohamed.



The Marketplace of Ideas expresses the surreal vertigo of being an ageing millennial, marinading in the chaotic swamp of the internet while the world rapidly collapses around you – an experience that is equal parts numbing, infuriating and weirdly hilarious. A world where high art, pop culture, surreal memes and mind-bending atrocities flatten into a single, never-ending stream of information. These poems do not necessarily critique, or even explain, the overloaded, apocalyptic millennial mindset, but they are undoubtedly born of it. And somewhere in their confused, spiky, numbingly online depths, there may even be a dim spark of hope.

I’m sure wild swimming is lovely, but to me this is nature poetry because it actually makes an effort to capture the environment we live in – ‘a Cinematic Universe for my pain’. Stefan Mohamed sears through our fractal self-involvement with constant lyrical invention and finds something desperately human in the network. There’s something important there: it’s not enough to mention ‘social media’ in our poetry as if that makes it pertinent to our principle means of communication: we’re going to have to dive in. And in Mohamed’s ands, what could just be holding an even more cynical mirror up to the cynical hall of mirrors becomes something risky, intelligent and committed. It’s worth it.
– Luke Kennard

Mohamed is the poet of information overload. He’s also funny and snarky and makes half-ironic gestures towards his own vulnerability. I could call him the Shitpost Laureate but he’d probably lift that phrase and put my name under it, which I wouldn’t like. It’s refreshing to read something so inescapably contemporary which contains none of the signifiers of an up-to-date properly writing-schooled poet. Mohamed’s poems speak directly to a very new human experience – living in a constant storm of online argument. Their forms are not traditional and reflect their content. But you won’t scan the page and think ‘this looks like the kind of experimenting poets do now’. This is an original.
– Tom Sastry

Who even are we, in the age of fascist presidents, negative hours jobs, and self-help vending machines? This inventive collection poses this question against a day-glo background of memes and Vengaboys singles. These cinematic poems walk a tightrope between hilarity and frustration in a world where politics feels apocalyptic and the facts contradict themselves. Stefan Mohamed is unafraid of taking an idea as far as it can possibly go, far into the realms of discomfort and out the other side.
– Suzannah Evans

Stefan Mohamed is a performing poet, author and freelance editor based in Bristol. His novels the Bitter Sixteen Trilogy and Falling Leaves are published by Salt, and his first poetry collection PANIC! is available from Burning Eye Books. He is also the creator of This Is Just To Say, a poetry comedy sketch show that can be found on YouTube.