The Distance Measured in Days by Anthony Howell – click this link – for some new comments and a video created by the author.
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
My uncle lies on the roof
of the youth hostel in Athens
because all the rooms are full.
He cannot sleep. It’s not just the heat
or his grief at the death of his father
whose family he has come to find
but the singing, in French,
from the open air cinema;
Catherine Deneuve in a raincoat
her heart breaking, night after night,
But I’ll never be able to live
without you… Don’t go. I will die.
It is 1964. My uncle is 21.
No need to sleep, dear uncle,
hum along, count the stars.
There is separation and rain
and a remembrance. I open it again
like an umbrella.
From quintet 3
having complied ‘injurious’ anew remiss
an unaware loss
ah! what has mattered, ‘has silence
indicted Narcissus, dimpled with solace
edged in sleety tenderness
being curbed in your resemblance – to its sluggish bounds
in the cloistral huddle
‘an unfinished sneer’s distraught laughter
in unfulfilled redemption – from our waney
The telephone rang while I was washing my hair
and getting out of the bath I misjudged the height and fell
on my right side (not the side I sleep on, thank god!)
and thought I’d broken at least a hip
and lay there grunting to myself like a piece of bad rhetoric
or that whale the seventeenth-century Hollanders admired so much,
washed up on the beach at Scheveningen for all to see.
Nobody listens to rhetoric but you can’t ignore a whale
so I thought I’d make a poem of it, telling myself
beauty is truth but ugliness means well.
The phone stopped ringing and maybe I’d missed a date with love
and broken my right hip into the bargain
but it’s not the side I sleep on and there are other times
and if I’d got there with all that water on me
I’d probably have been electrocuted dead.
You learn to take things slowly or fall flat.
From THE DISTANCE MEASURED IN DAYS – a novel
And so we had driven to Kew. We parked Inge’s car and went in through the gates. It was winter. On the grass under a black tree I squatted down on my haunches.
Somehow this meant freedom. We could split up for good now. Not just as a gesture. It could mean complete freedom to be myself again, and for as long as I wanted – not just for a few bachelor days in a friend’s absented flat. Even in the cold, I then began to feel hot. How could I think this thought? Shouldn’t we immediately have another? Surely I had to offer that?
Inge had walked on through the bleak gardens. Now, slowly, she returned to where I squatted under the black tree. My hands were pushed into my pockets. I had not seen our daughter dead and blue. Inge had told me of this. She had turned blue. I had not seen her myself. I had not pushed through the double-doors to look. After Inge’s call, I had hurried over to the hospital in a taxi. Inge had met me outside. ‘Don’t go in,’ she had said. ‘It’s too late. You don’t need to see her.’ She had said it only to spare me the sight. But then my nerve had failed. I had simply nodded my head. I had not insisted. Did I want to see her dead and blue? My daughter? Well, I agreed to leave it, to leave her there unseen, behind the double-doors. We had gone home from the hospital in a taxi.
From The Cross of Carl – an allegory
At that Carl started back, and had just time to see a leg severed at the hip lying bloody-stumped apart from that other huddle on the crater’s edge, when he heard dimly a shout behind, and looking, saw the sergeant with revolver pointed at him coming up through the haze. He could hear nothing of the words flung at him but understood the menacing murder of that glance and that glin- ting barrel, and terror urged him forward.
He turned and plunged into the mist ahead, plugging the mud heavily, his rifle trailing, and a weakness in his knees, for death is not pretty, and he had not seen it near before. In front he saw the backs of his fellows jogging slowly forward, all moving one way, in twos and threes; here and there a single figure, and at intervals larger patches, where many shadows blurred to one mass.
Suddenly he found himself in a crowd. He saw two officers close to him. One seemed to be urging the men forward, the other hung upon the rear, moving this way and that, as a collie cuddles the rear of his flock. In his hand was an automatic. At that Carl spurted anew, and drew up into the middle of the crowd.
Lorraine Mariner, Donald Gardner and Anthony Howell will be reading at our launch at The Rugby Tavern, Tuesday 22 March, 2022. Calliope Michail will read Iliassa Sequin. She is currently translating Sequin’s poems in Greek.
Please come to Grey Suit celebration!
Tuesday 22 March from 6.30 pm – with a reading at 7 pm. at The Rugby Tavern in Bloomsbury
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
Anchorage – 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.
In the past, Grey Suit has published videos, poetry chap-books, experimental novels and performance art editions. Details about these earlier projects can be found on our website
Our new books are through designed to extend the chap-book collection of poets edited by Kerry-Lee Powell and printed in Canada:
Publication date is September 2019.
Gertrude Mabel May:
Gertrude Stein’s first novel, one that was never published during her lifetime, was called Q.E.D. She wrote it to exorcise the experience of her first passionate love affair with the New Yorker May Bookstaver, the friend and lover of the Bostonian Mabel Haynes, a fellow student of Gertrude Stein’s at Johns Hopkins Medical School between 1898 and 1902. The impact of the complicated affair on Stein’s writing has attracted considerable attention but the subsequent lives of her two intimate friends have not been covered so far in any detailed way.
Gwendolyn Leick is the granddaughter of Mabel Haynes, who moved to Austria-Hungary in 1905. She began writing this book, after the chance discovery of her grandmother’s part in Gertrude Stein’s life some six years ago, in order to do justice to these remarkable women. The method of writing lays out the things, the notions and ideas, the people (friends, relatives, lovers, husbands), in the form of associative ‘entries’, woven around Gertrude Stein’s texts, as much as on private letters, photographs and other found objects. It is an encyclopaedic enterprise, rather than a chronologically ordered biographical account. The character and the lives of the three protagonists and the times they lived in emerge through the kaleidoscope of the accumulated vignettes.
GWENDOLYN LEICK (1951) studied Assyriology in Graz, Austria. She is the author of many historical works on Mesopotamia published by Routledge, and of Mesopotamia — The Invention of the City (Penguin). She taught Anthropology in Wales and History of Architecture in London. Her lastest book, Tombs of Great Leaders, was published by Reaktion Books in 2013.
The Step is the Foot:
This inquiry into the relationship between the “step” in dance and the “foot” in verse invites the reader into a tapestry woven by its crossed paths. A duel career as a dancer and as a poet allows the author to follow his interest in the dance origins of scansion and link it to how the foot connects lyric writing to an “exiled sense” through the felt tread of its rhythm. This is to rediscover the physical feeling of poetry; the fulcrum of a relationship that goes back to the Greek chorus, when every phrase was danced. The author shows how verse and the dance emerged together, as we initially developed bipedalism and speech.
Written is a discursive style which allows the author to wander whenever digression seems appropriate, the book offers the reader an entertaining compendium of anecdotes, notions and quotes concerning the relation between our words and our movements. Walking in itself may have ushered in predication – syntax – putting one word in front of another as one put one foot in front of another. Did song emerge separately from language and stimulate ritual dance among women who linked their steps to sounds? The link of speech with movement is explored in ancient art, in theatre and in military drill and psychoanalysis. From the ballet to performance art, the author traces the evolution of recent creativity – free verse finding a parallel in Mick Jagger dancing freely on his own in the ‘60s while performance artists used the freedom of conceptual art to explore “action phrases” linking task-orientated movement with verbal articulation.
A former dancer with the Royal Ballet, Anthony Howell’s first collection, Inside the Castle, came out in 1969. In 1971 he was invited to participate in the Iowa International Writers Program. In 1997 he was short-listed for a Paul Hamlyn Award. His versions of the poems of Statius were well received and those of Fawzi Karim were a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for 2011. He was the founder of The Theatre of Mistakes and editor of Grey Suit: Video for Art and Literature. His most recent book of poems is From Inside, The High Window Press 2017.
Individual posts for both books to follow.