Secret Third Thing by Dan Hogan

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We had a black-and-white hand-me-down until mum won a colour television in a pub raffle. It was then, in the early 90s, when I was about five or six years old, that my dad, a striking factory worker soon to be made redundant, helped me read a picture book about an anthropomorphic red tractor. It was my first year of school. I asked him why bother learning the words when we have pictures. His response was something to the effect that if you can read and write you don’t need pictures, or a colour television. It is my earliest memory of experiencing an impulse to write for a reader, spurred not by a need for expression but by a curiosity to untie the alchemy of language. My brain could not (and still cannot) get past the question that if language can conjure colour where there is no colour, what else can it do?

Gaston Bachelard writes in The Poetics of Space, ‘Consciousness of being at peace in one’s corner produces a sense of immobility, and this, in turn, radiates immobility.’ Thinking about it now, dad was talking about how language can be a resource when you’re cornered by the traps and trappings of labouring under capitalism. With a red tractor and colourless TV in mind, Secret Third Thing was written from corners about corners. If I was to attempt to frame the face of the work in the eye of the reader before they meet the work itself, face-to-face (Oh. Oh no), I would say these poems are an argot against the radiation of immobility emitted by capital, against the ways in which capitalist configurations elicit submission without an act of submission. If anything, how a red tractor gains consciousness of the great many strifes produced by being cornered, and how this, in turn, sheds something not useful or useless, but a secret third thing.

–Dan Hogan