Shireen

x

You journos, you’re poets on active duty,

For you can get disappeared, positively aimed at,

Even with PRESS writ all over you.

Maybe even because….

Today you’re Al-Jazeera, tomorrow

Some scruffy independent.

x

And then you have your caricatures

In the press-corps, fresh from their diplomas,

Each with a degree in data-marketing…

They’ve learnt the first of the 48 Laws

So well they’re more than willing to repeat

The spin of the master, so as not to outshine

x

Down the corridors of the Hotel CNN,

Worlds away from anyone’s front line.

Nothing to do with them,

Your ducking away as the shell is dropped

Into the mortar’s barrel, saving ears.

How hard it must be

x

To feel ordinary again

And not unearthly, unless you already are.

x

My homage to the murdered journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

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Shunga 1-6

SHUNGA 1

Over the bedspread

His pipe is well-used, and he fills it again.

You’re wearing a mantle over your gown

Because he likes to enter the reserve,

Searching here and there for its waterfall.

x

You have done up your sleek black hair

With a fine comb and ivory pins,

Done it up with particular care

In contrast to the wilderness below.

x

Taking another puff of his blow,

He thinks of it all in a dopey dream,

Imagining what he’s about to do,

And comes too soon, annoyingly for you.

x

SHUNGA 2

That curls the toes.

She has been attending his creative writing class.

He has invited her to his summer-house,

He says it’s where he does his best work.

It overlooks an undulating stream.

x

She has put on her loveliest kimono:

The one with the chrysanthemums:

Pink and yellow pompons floating on a grey

Watery silk with raindrops maybe

x

Or discarded petals. Goes so well with the hot

Pink of her sash.  It’s crimson underneath,

Which he discovers – when he lets her read

His latest verse while dipping in her pot.

x

SHUNGA 3

Behind a screen

There’s no point in fussing with her hair,

Left on her own all summer,

Belly getting heavier and heavier,

Her black-necked crane sent off somewhere

x

Remote.  His fault for lines that discomfited

An emperor.  She keeps the lantern lit,

And now he’s sent her this totally

Horny book, with an intimate note in it.

x

He’ll be back with the cranes this winter,

If he can wheedle his way back into favour.

Now she dribbles cum all over her loose

Maternity smock.  She knows he likes her flavour.

x

SHUNGA 4

Fuck the exam!

I turned up to show you my prep, not my pussy,

And don’t see why you should need to inspect

It here in your bedroom, not in your study.

Anyway, as far as you’re concerned,

x

There’s nothing to see.  The sight

Of what you’ve got leaves me sealed up,

As good as intact.  Get that discoloured instrument

Away from me.  It makes my toes uncurl.

x

You should treat a nice girl with respect.

I don’t give a shit about your intellect.

Wrap your arm around my thigh

And you’ll see red – I mean to scratch your eye.

x

SHUNGA 5

Feeling him again.

The cherry scent of Spring offset the nip

That was still in the air.  My maids had spent such ages

On my coiffeur, and he was home at last from his business trip.

A coat well-travelled and well-stuffed wallet.

x

I’d had the towels laid out for his bath,

But my plan had been to feed him first

His favourite noodles.  Carefully prepared,

Dressed in my opulent best, I came in with the tray.

x

I knelt and set it down, and he

Had an appetite, yes.  His hunger like a tree.

He had been a fair good while away.

The noodles?  Not exactly his priority. 

x

SHUNGA 6

On a floating carpet

Delicate hands, delightfully slim, such a darling hen.

She should be on stage, so able is she

To typify the perfect courtesan. 

This is why I begged her to come over.

x

We could study the classics together, the key roles:

Suicidal lover, nemesis of the conqueror,

But how should a game cock tread her – since she proves

As eager for the ride but actually

x

As cocky as myself?  No need to worry,

Love will always find a way to enter,

Turn the tables on what’s said in Persia,

After a summer of girls, one boy through the winter.

x

x

Shunga, literally “spring pictures”, is an erotic artistic tradition that emerged from early modern Japan, featuring graphic images of sexual activity. Produced by the thousands during the Edo period (1600-1868), shunga offered sexuality a shameless visual platform, where sexual pleasure, female sexuality, and homosexuality were not only acknowledged but encouraged.

(Artsy, Sept 24, 2013)

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EXISTENTIAL BANALITY

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The Distance Measured in Days – some new comments and a video

New comments

These can be found by scrolling down through the link.

And here is an introductory video I have made, in which I read the beginning of The Distance Measured in Days

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Birthday Poem

We are gathered outside the magistrates’ court

To witness justice wither away.

Barristers with black sling-bags and grey

Drainpipe suits slink inside past officials today

As we listen to the Grim Reaper

Analyse the truth’s ignominious departure.

Big lorries blare their support.

Lamborghinis could not give a fuck.

The Lion and the Unicorn above us all

Have one comment: Dieu et mon droit.

x

We are gathered outside the magistrate’s court

Attended by the foreign press. It seems the Beeb

Is on Easter break as we unite in chants for freedom,

All too aware that this is an illusion

Rubbishing those rights for which so many fought.

A signature establishes the irrational.

The CIA are here among us trying to look hip.

And as the wife of Julian Assange

Communicates a foregone conclusion.

The prosecution flees like rats from a sinking ship.

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Lines from Hubble

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Two Sequences of Poems by David Plante

David and Nikos

Two Sequences of Poems by David Plante

I am proud to introduce these two sequences by David. He and Nikos Stangos were vital components of the London scene in the 60s and 70s – two people I would see as often at art events as at literary events.

And see if you can pick up a copy of Pure Reason: Poems by Nikos Stangos 

This is a wonderful book of poems accompanied by pieces of art dedicated to Nikos, all superbly reproduced by the publishers Thames and Hudson, a tribute to their former editor.

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Now

M. Borymchuk

You are unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

She is a male who has just won a woman’s swimming-competition.

Is Hunter’s laptop his confession?

The trees have started losing their confetti.

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Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast

John Singer Sargent, Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast, 1882–83.

Terrific article in Artsy about this restless sitter by Alina Cohen

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GREY SUIT LAUNCH – 22 March 2022

Click the link for a Celebration of Grey Suit Editions UK

 

Grey Suit celebration!

 

Tuesday 22 March from 6.30 pm – with a reading at 7 pm. at The Rugby Tavern in Bloomsbury

 

All welcome. Please let friends know. There will be free wine and nibbles.

 

Rugby Tavern, 19 Great James Street, WC1N 3ES

 

Here are examples of the work of the authors

 

More details – 0208 801 8577

 

Please come to Grey Suit celebration! Lorraine Mariner, Donald Gardner and Anthony Howell will be reading, and Callie Michail will read some poems by Iliassa Sequin.

 

Featuring the pamphlets and books we have published during lock-down

 

Lorraine Mariner’s fabulous chap-book Anchorage

Iliassa Sequin’s Collected Complete Poems

Donald Gardner’s New and Selected Poems

and my novel The Distance Measured in Days

All welcome. Please let friends know. There will be free wine and nibbles and all our publications will be for sale.

 

Rugby Tavern, 19 Great James Street, WC1N 3ES

More details – 0208 801 8577

 

Lorraine Mariner was born in 1974 and lives in London where she works at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. She has published two collections with Picador, Furniture (2009) and There Will Be No More Nonsense (2014) and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize twice, for Best Single Poem and Best First Collection, and for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize.Review of Lorraine Mariner’s Anchorage – now in London Grip

 

Iliassa Sequin was born in 1940 on a small island in the Cyclades, where her father was a high school teacher. Soon after the family moved to Athens. With musicality in language uppermost in her concerns she developed an original poetic style and this led to her being befriended by Odysseas Elytis (later a Nobel prize winner). Family opposition to her career as a writer and an actress prompted her to move to Germany. From then on she flitted between Germany, Italy, France and Sweden becoming a friend of Peter Weiss and Susan Sontag, Giuseppe Ungaretti, André du Bouchet and Paul Celan. John Ashbery published her work in the Partisan Review, and a sequence of her quintets was published by Peter Gizzi in O-blek Editions. Later she moved to Britain, and married the artist Ken Sequin. Her work is notable for its musical beauty, its distinct structure and particular typographical decisions. She died in the winter of 2019.

 

Donald Gardner was born in London, but has largely lived outside the UK, moving to the Netherlands in 1979. He began writing poetry in the early 1960s, when he was living in Bologna as a Prix de Rome historian. Later he spent some years in New York where he was a lecturer in English Literature at Pace College. His first live reading was at the Poetry Project on Saint Marks Place and in 1967, he took the stage at the East Village Theatre, in the company of Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and others. On his return to London, his first collection, Peace Feelers, was published in 1969 by Café Books. A second collection followed in 1974, For the Flames (Fulcrum). Recent books are The Wolf Inside (Hearing Eye, 2014) and Early Morning (Grey Suit Editions 2017). Gardner has always been a literary translator, as well as poet, initially of Latin American writers: The Sun Stone by Octavio Paz and Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante. He has also translated many Dutch and Flemish poets and in 2015 he won the Vondel Prize for his translations of Remco Campert (Shoestring Press). Now in his eighties, he continues to write poetry and to translate other poets and is an acclaimed reader of his own work.

 

Anthony Howell is a poet and novelist whose first collection of poems, Inside the Castle was brought out in 1969.  In 1986 his novel In the Company of Others was published by Marion Boyars.  Another novel Oblivion has recently been published by Grey Suit editions.  His Selected Poems came out from Anvil, and his Analysis of Performance Art is published by Routledge.  His poems have appeared in The New Statesman, The Spectator and The Times Literary Supplement.  His articles on visual art, dance, performance and poetry have appeared in many journals and magazines including Artscribe, Art Monthly, The London Magazine, and Harpers & Queen.    In 1997 he was short-listed for a Paul Hamlyn Award for his poetry.  His versions of the poems of Statius were well received and his versions of the poems of Fawzi Karim were the Poetry Book Society Recommended translation for 2013.

 

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