Mendoza is a Northumbrian poet and researcher at Birkbeck University investigating identity through poetic practice. Mendoza writes and performs under several personas, most notably "Linus Slug: Insect Librarian", "Elgar Funk" and "Elffish Jon". The poetry itself references Northumbrian history and culture, as well as insect folklore and mythology. It engages with the act of remembering, and the ways in which memory alters or defines the formation of individual, social, and cultural identities. MendozaSlug is the founder of ninerrors poetry series, editor of FREAKLUNG poetry zine and co-editor/event organizer at Stinky Bear Press: highly active, and to good effect, in the thriving but often seemingly private world of avant-garde poetry. Their (and I use the pronoun advisedly — how else can a range of personas be adequately referred to?) reputation is extending beyond the dark undergrowth of the avant-garde to reach and engage a wider audience, with appearances in recent wide-ranging anthologies of what's most exciting in current new poetry.
Identity, and its exploration and presentation, is a major focus of Mendoza's poetry. Identity as what? — as given (here is this body, these memories, out of Northumbria as we happen) — and equally as constructed & performed, as a series of masks, as a series of roles adopted with different audiences. Does identity exist alone & solitary? Mendoza's poetry, and that of many of their peers, would strongly suggest that's meaningless & like the tree falling unobserved in the forest: nothing to be said about it. A lot to say about the dance of language between and within people. A lot to say about other ways of existing within this world than those sold & fed to us & that's where (for me) the force of the interest of the insects lies, and, yes, MendozaSlug has really truly been an insect librarian. The actuality of otherness, of insect identity, is what this poetry gives me, in poems which are funny, mischievous, moving and highly original. Identity of another, your identity, their identity, is always mysterious & different:
young born furred with open eyes
O magpie thief your speechspeech
cleft of lip and palate
the sequence frass gazette ends. In it are insects and people, history & possible poems, ways of talking about who you are, who you aren't and who you might be, mulched up and fertile (frass is the term for insect droppings & waste — vital to maintain ecosystems — 'tis only nature). To quote Edmund Hardy (on another poem):
"Linus Slug gives us a new type of ambiguity in poetry, a principle of the playful infinite in a pamphlet which moves through a rich decay - of violence, disembodied news, the eyes of scorn — to find the points from which switches, sexuality and delight can flourish against and over. These points cluster, scurry and fly everywhere — as insect familiars, as 'Lay of the last poetic' — and later return into layers of code at the point of disappearance, 'I stole from J who stole / from H who / stole from F in Rymans'."
Mendoza is an intelligent and skilled performer: prepare to be astonished, intrigued and delighted, and to recognise the life within these language creations. A strong presence is made, engaging & unforgettable — the person constructing/constructed by personas demonstrated, the vitality of language upheld in flight.
Peter Philpott, July 3, 2013