Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s first full-length collection connects the reader to the addict as human, to place as suburban, and to society as complicit. Clean disrupts the sole burden of guilt on the addict and reframes it as a community problem. ‘Nobody can sell up … when you live four doors down from a meth lab’ they write in ‘This Town’. In ‘Reworking slurs …’, rehabilitation turns shame into empowerment – ‘All YOU JUNKIES DESERVE (compassion & a warm bed)’ – allowing us to consider the consequences of turning vilification into love.
The book’s first section, ‘Dirty’, is situated under the cloak of darkness in ‘alleyways, (where) syringes scab’ and lovers abandon to ecstasy in green spaces, a sanctuary of queer passion amongst wildflowers and away from heteronormative abuse. The speaker’s journey from ‘mourning’ to ‘morning’ (as the first and last poem suggest) is as much about getting clean from meth addiction as one of identification as a non-binary masc. who replaces trauma and addiction with gratitude and poetry. This is a love story. Lucky for us.