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.
Here at Grey Suit we’re so proud to have just published Donald Gardner’s New and Selected Poems.
Here is a powerful little film of his poem Hardly News.
Single copies may be purchased on ebay – just click the word.
“I have finished the novel and found it challenging, emotionally, because it defies the reader’s expectations, as its main characters are frustrating .The raw contradictions of the man’s response to his daughter’s death are complex, shocking and convincing ,but his solutions made me want to shake him . The leveret memories, which had nothing immediate, difficult or ambivalent attached, were too heartrending to read I ended up avoiding them. The distinction between the artistic and important non-fuckable friends and others made me laugh. I think like that sometimes. I can’t help thinking that Inge was within reach so many times, not just on the desert trip, but in London, that the man had resolved to pay lip service to the relationship, but knew it was neither the answer nor a source of solace, and turned away.
Random thoughts, Anthony. But it is significant perhaps that Inge’s response to adventures was a sharp “grow up” and stop smoking weed .Neither statement means much when two people are looking for different paths/forms of salvation. I spent eight days, with a Libyan man who spoke no English riding through the Sahara, accompanied by a boy .No saddle, no tent, just holding on to the camels neck with my feet and digging a hole to sleep at night.I picked up tics .I don’t think the desert is ideal for reflection. Too many corpses being eaten by crows, physical stress, numbing landscape. The spirit is an indulgence when you are struggling with the exhaustion of the body.
A final thought, when you become aware that cot death is central to the story, the reader is programmed to prepare a dose of empathy and wait for the right moment to spill it. You don’t provide the opportunity for that kind of mawkish sentimentality because the tensions of the parents’ relationship takes centre stage . I enjoyed it, Anthony, thank you for the copy, which I will read again.” Sylvia Mejri
“We hire camels and a guide, and later in the day we ride out of the village. Our camels dip and lurch along on their flat, cloven pads. Slowly we approach a sign – ‘Timbuctoo, 40 jours’. We come abreast of it, and then we plod past it…”
Harry Harker and his Norwegian wife Inge have come to Morocco in what we might call a grief holiday: a doomed attempt to escape the pain and guilt resulting from the unexpected death of their infant daughter. And soon we discover that a distance measured in days may also refer to the distance between people, even when they are sharing a bed and entwined in each other’s arms.
Anthony Howell: poet, essayist, dancer, choreographer, uncompromising political commentator. And if this CV weren’t intimidating enough already, we should add novelist to the list.
In his latest book, his text shifts so effortlessly between timelines, tenses and first and third-person narrative that, at least until one becomes accustomed to it, a sensation akin to faint giddiness is engendered.
We journey with Harry into his distant past, where he adopts an abandoned leveret, more recently as we follow his sexual gymnastics, then into the present in the ‘desert Sud’, and his sojourn in the Philippines as a guest of the Marcos family. But not in that order. Or anything like it.
There is no happy ending here, no meaningful conclusion. Just intelligent people struggling to lead their lives in a world without convenient meanings or conclusions.” Steve Glascoe, author of Operation Violet Oak, Seren 2022
Grey Suit Editions
Grey Suit Editions began as a video magazine in the 1990s. This featured avant-garde performance art, poetry and experimental film and music. These videos can be found on our website. Today we host an archive of the video footage as well as publishing books of literary interest and poetry chap-books.
Recent publications – Donald Gardner’s New and Selected Poems
Anthony Howell’s The Distance Measured in Days
Other books by Grey Suit Editions:
The Step is the Foot – dance and its relationship to poetry – £14.99
Gertrude Mabel May – an ABC of Gertrude Stein’s Love Triangle – £14.99
The Cross of Carl – an allegory – preface by General Sir Ian Hamilton – £9.95
Collected Complete Poems – £14.95
We also publish chap-books by Donald Gardner, Alan Jenkins, Fawzi Karim, Lorraine Mariner, Kerry-Lee Powell, Pamela Stewart, Rosanne Wasserman and Hugo Williams.
Individual copies from email@example.com
Our website is https://greysuiteditions.co.uk/
Trade sales are managed by Phoenix Publishing House https://firingthemind.com/
Here are links to several reviews of some of our books – up to the start of Autumn 2021.
And as editor of Grey Suit Editions UK, I very much recommend The Cross of Carl .
This extraordinary fiction written in World War 1 by Walter Owen, but only published in 1931 is a long-neglected classic of hallucinatory writing.
John Ashbery once said to me that he was interested in the byways of literature – for aspiring writers, these lesser known works of genius can be more rewarding, more inspiring than the canon of approved classics. Grey Suit intends to publish works such as The Cross of Carl whenever we come across a neglected book that deserves serious reappraisal.
Please find reviews of Loraine Mariner’s Anchorage (p74) and Iliassa Sequin’s Collected Complete Poems (p 101) in issue 4 of The Alchemy Spoon by following the link: https://www.calameo.com/read/006240328939df95c44c7?authid=PgLe8IRv1QEj or by visiting the website www.alchemyspoon.org
The launch of issue 4 will be on Sept 11, at 7.30 on Alchemy Spoon’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpENF_vjwEX5yN-Mm6EJnGA) should you care to join.
This is a list of earlier publications (all now available from GS Editions, 33 Holcombe Road, London N17 9AS UK):
217 pages, published in 2006
ISBN 1 903 006 02 3
47 pages, published in 1999
ISBN 1 903 006 00 7
Heron of Hawthornden
unpaged, published in 2020
ISBN 978 1 903006 18 4
We also publish publications by