The Mannequins Are More Real Than You – James Knight

Always find it easy to fall into James Knight’s mind, my imagination primed for his latest collection. The Bird King and I have done this dance before. Other words and worlds he has shared over the years. Good news, the Mannequins are back. A wonderful obsession shared with many. Our showroom friends with their stiff manners, perfect dark side smiles. They are the plastic bones that hold this all together. You will find them wondering around the various levels of his mind, and throughout this book. The windows they tap, tap, tap upon are merely his eyes, riding lifts, popping out at uncertain floors. It is a symbiotic relationship. One can’t exist without the other and they need him more than he realises. The Bird is no king without them. A rewriting of Carroll as Dante has Alice and the rabbit doing very strange things. This bad poets’ alternative holes are filled with an even more surreal reality, 13 of them, his only number. Dr Mort is still alive, closing in on childhood, the past dissolves with every mention. The little poems that sneak in like bookmarks are perfect. The first Patience is a whisper from the back room. Larger characters taking over their stage, like Eve. Epic as an aria “Eve spun a web from midnight, God’s words, frail, dry, got caught in it and shivered to dust” A painting, Sistine in its dream, cracks in the tempera. Objectum sexuality has piqued his feathers, his ‘amorous capriciousness reaches delirious heights‘ and a reminder to hide the furniture when he visits. My dream is to see one of The Bird King’s ‘scenes … that no no one has made‘ mirroring his 13 Deleted Scenes From A Film into a visual feast. Too long a wait, he must do it himself via words, his TV Murder Mystery  a gripping story that points the finger at everyone.

Ce6Im2GWAAAtMIz.jpg largeThis is how these stories read. A three year sojourn. Their roots dormant inside a timeline. A series of tweets sunlit to expand or grab and run with collaborators. Writers and artists like Nicky Morlock’s Transformations and the Norse inspired Nine Realms series. Susan Omand’s beautiful colour illustrations in The Mannequin and the magnificent artist Viviana Hinojosa. Theirs is a perfect match of sublime hand drawn visuals and surreal worlds for those who still believe in the magic of illustration and storytelling. Even I couldn’t resist his squawks. James’ nest is hard to resist. As soon as I saw his tweets for the Glitch Witch, my tongue was rolling all over it. James taking my recordings and passing them on to Adam Wimbush to weave into a soundscape that you can listen to here.

Story after story continue. Orpheus and Eurydice and Perdita In Pieces are beautiful. I could sense big shoes coming and I was right. The existential funnymen paint a bleak picture, “For the clowns, sleep is a rehearsal for death. They keep their eyes open and dream of nothing“. Hallucinations a plenty in 13 Circles Of Hell Hidden From Dante But Revealed To The Bird King In A Series Of Hallucinations Caused By Medicine For A Urinary Tract Infection. After reading realise The Bird King seems normal to me, his state of mind one and the same, infected or not. It all makes sense if you follow the Bird King’s path. Maggots and Sea Of Knives all  warm up to his Chimerical Biography, a mission statement for the gang he has created. There are new words for old mythologies, e.e. cummings in upper case and many other sacriliges. A kind of This Is Your Life, celebrating only his mind. The Bird King’s past is all there for us to squirm in and admire. The Mannequins Are More Real Than You is available to download free on Smashwords, so what’s stopping you? You can also pay for something physical via Lulu.

James Knight Poetry Reviews

James Knight

image James Knight

image James Knight


I am curious about the guy on the podium, he doesn’t look quite right. Cracking through my skin and bone to what’s inside. Dialogue randomly unmatching his dictatorial posing, a power poetic. It’s not long before his irreal plot forms. Slots in. Begins to turn and take shape in shadows and inner projections. More statements, yelled out like a comedien who’s ‘got a million of them’. All that’s missing is the cigar, the microphone and the fish. This is paranoid, frontal lobe processing. Things go on around him but all he sees is the primal chaos, what he is truly made of, reptilian complex of flesh and neurons, of pain and memory. You wouldn’t expect to smile at such things but you can’t help it. Each page becomes clearer. You become more absorbed and you breathe easy, you begin to laugh. Every part of him is unconnected, an outsider to himself. It is like a carnival of freaks inside a flapping tent, glimpsing scenes as the wind whips the red and white stripes from its pegs. His accompanying pictures more mutations than collage are brilliant. Words writhe inside his thrash scifi, clear messages about our lives, the creative process, where words come from, where images form. There is madness and then there is complete clarity. This is when the fun starts and the mirror people turn up and you start to understand that “smashing glass is the most beautiful sound in the world”.

The flies, the mannequins, the doorways. Like a fireworks display, a constant barrage of oohes and aahes.  There is Eve but no Adam. He has wonderful dreams. Though some would find them nightmarish, this is never mentioned. Spiders crawl out of mouths. Unexpected mind nasties he keeps hidden in jars. It is not really a story more echoes that pass uncomfortably. We form an unreal world to cope with what’s what, alter boy egos, and bad dreams. Scenarios that entertain him, that he can escape into. Mono is a coping mechanism. Mono is alone. Just when you think you are over a theme, James drags you back in for seconds. He cannot be killed, though he dies a lot. He never knows when to finish. This is perfect because the Bird King’s hell is just that. Forever trapped inside his dark mirror. James Knight is all his characters, the puppet master punched and duly showed. He is the oneirograph king. This is well documented. He steals your dreams. But don’t be scared it empowers. He stole mine, I adore his work. James isn’t into taking your soul, he knows our souls too well and has enough problems. So he hits hard. Words and visions smack the same way, straight into the kaleidoscope. This is not a story, more a book happening. His mind forever naked and we’ve all had those dreams, haven’t we.

You can purchase MONO here. James’s stories and more here











Book Review James Knight

James Knight

IN THE DARKROOM by James Knight

“We all need stories”

It’s been a while since I’ve rummaged through the mind of author James Knight. His previous Head Traumas and Bird King scenarios had me in reflective therapy. This new release I have been itching to read, tempted by visuals and tease on social media.

James has a unique perspective. His latest character, a bedridden only twin, laments in his own juices. It is once again trademark surreal though filled with his own Oneirographs –  personal digital-scapes of dreams that he traps, observes and interprets – are extra detailed in that they expose his own psyche, or that of someone else. Powerful images that drive the stories.

James hides nothing. The pictures appear and take my breath away. At first I was so impressed, I thought the art surpassed the words. Then it starts and second thoughts erase all that. The creation of your own world, recurring themes, are again confronting, like an old song on the radio filled with reminiscence can also reveal new thoughts. Something lower in the mix is suddenly apparent and you become unsure of its impact.

indexJames is obsessed by mannequins. They are a constant threat lurking with their statuesque menace. Often the brow creases at such strange thought processes but you can’t help but smile at the absurdity and familiarity of predicaments that are revealed. I felt some confusion but that is life. Is he in a level of hell, is he dying? As he gets into your mind, simulacras appear. If you dream like James does, you will see your own reflection.

This character seems ageless, ancient and childlike at the same time. Memories knocking filled with what shapes us, but told with an uneasy gaze, poetic and artistic. Almost steam punk surreal with all its mind cogs and lace, false memories lurk and come to life, challenging his sanity once the dream invades.

The madness really hits home in this book. The confusion of his mind is paramount, there is a terror and loneliness that makes your heart ache. An imaginarium of shapes and experiences in words, thoughts and actions. His younger self  fueled by bites of aural and visual past experiences that is all encompassing – he is the dream. Rorschach flick your own butterflies and mirrors, share your nightmares. Calling Dr Freud…

It gets creepy, filled with guilt and confusion, an Ecclestonesque heart beats a homage to time masters, it’s as confusing and smile inducing as your first wet dream, filled with absurd truths and the comfort of the ordinary. Holding feelings in specimen cases, once categorized ready to reveal. The mannequins keep the tension dark and as terrifying as crying angels. The empathy of madness proving ones existence with momentos, polaroids we really want to forget but also confront. In The Dark Room is therapy, a tale, a chimera, a memory.


In The Dark Room is available as a black and white paperback through look out for the full colour kindle and paperback edition

you can find James on twitter and his


Book Review James Knight

James Knight


image James Knight




When I read James Knight’s poetry, it reminded me of the first time I was taught about death.


The Bird King’s call hits you immediately. He will awaken your mind like a rude horny bird at 4am. James dances on the page with the flair of a fire bird. You can’t look away, gobsmacked at his word and image show.


There is such emptiness in his visions, that is, they are so clear nothing penetrates the thoughts he projects. They move in a deep, sleep deprived hallucination, a medicated infected haunting.


This is the new literature, potent poetic meanderings interspersed with lucid dreams, nightmares and impossible visions – you can find him in the twitterverse   Enter his nest


James’ digital art scapes are slick, raw and stirring keyholes to look into. He understands life’s miracle but also its absurdity and inconsequence. He makes you turn, squirm, reject and laugh loud. The Bird King will lull you with idyllic projections, pleasant thoughts, then fucking rip off your head. Although his lines are economical, he has the ability to cue you to tears if you let him.


When I have trouble sleeping, I take the Bird King to bed with me. Not to send me to slumber but to make the most of my sleeplessness. Days Of The Snowman creeps me like a staring ventriloquist doll so I avoid him in dark hours.


I love how he blames something else for his prose, his superb empty dramas. Scenes become super-real,  you can hear your own heart beat, light bulbs crack and explode. I walk through the mindscapes with a lit cigarette and a stiff drink at times. Echoes smack, caressing shaken heads and close open jaws.


His Frank Kafka/ Lewis Carroll mashup is worth the price of entry on its own. 13 Deleted Scenes From A Film needs to be made, his directors eye avi stares at me and I’m glad there are no razors in sight.


James occasionally psychoanalyses his own work as he goes along, using these insights as part of his prose. At first I thought it would be better to keep his motivation a secret but I love this exposed part of the author. I often see him lying naked on a table in an empty room, I sit in a velvet chair looking at his Freudian discomfort, watching his Jungian dreams.


Thought snippets catalogued in long drawers. A library of heart wrenching, confronting and intelligent scenes. His hands turn heavy rusted wheels, opening secret vaults, imagined and real.


Simplicity is perfection, imaginings of youth should never be forgotten, his British bites nostalgic. I refuse to repeat a sentence, no tasters for all his work I’ve seen is line by line heaven to me, hard edged punk poetic brilliance.


Illustrator Diana Probst contributes visuals on two tomes. Her watercolours should be interwoven with rice paper – a delicate potency, pastels illuminate the words, black interspersed with vibrants, a shadowy disturbia – a chocked leg of a chair, ventricles and arteries, surreal steampunk cogs whir in a mechanised pantomime. I love her vision of his blue roses.


James Knight is The Bird King, he may be plucked, but he will keep you warm in his nest. You will find comfort in his madness, his dark milieu piercing fine bones that will lodge in your throat forever.

pic: James Knight

image: James Knight

This review was inspired by James Knight’s Instructions For The Assembly Of A Junk Poem I have utilised his theory for my review of his work – which is part homage, part slobbering sycophantic rant. Everyone should have a quick taste of his books. Eat from his open beak and he will nourish and feed your psyche. I have accessed his mind accounts in Head Traumas, The Small Hours, Days Of The Snowman, The Death Of The Bird King, and 13#. You can purchase all his work here . And his latest work MONO via Lulu. His anthology of Twitter writers – Timelines – is exceptional with its extraordinary collection of poetry held within its pages.

image: James Knight

image James Knight


Book Review James Knight Poetry