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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 andSelected 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.