Poems and Extracts from our Authors

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.

 

Lorraine Mariner

 

 

From quintet 3

  

I

 

invoked

unattempted?

having complied ‘injurious’ anew remiss

                                                                   an unaware loss

ah! what has mattered, ‘has silence

indicted Narcissus, dimpled with solace

 

                                                                       unhappiest, wilful

dear ends

edged in sleety tenderness

 

II

 

being curbed in your resemblance – to its sluggish bounds

                                    in the cloistral huddle

 

time forestalls

                                               ‘an unfinished  sneer’s distraught laughter

                                                 in unfulfilled redemption – from our waney

                                                                            likeness’

Iliassa Sequin

  

INDIRECTIONS

 

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.

 

Donald Gardner

 

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.

Anthony Howell

 

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.

Walter Owen

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.

A Celebration of Grey Suit Editions – Tuesday 22 March

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.

Grey Suit Editions: our books

The Chap-Books:

Just Visiting  –  Pamela Stewart lives on a farm in western Massachusetts with seven dogs and some other beings. Her most recent full-length book of poems is Ghost Farm (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2010). She expects, shortly, to arrange a small and delightful gathering of letters between the late poet Lee McCarthy and Guy Davenport. Published 2014 – ISBN 978-1-903006-06-1

 
ALMOST SINGING
 
Under her breath, she rummages for Christmas.
She pauses to watch the snow and thinks of sin and its wolf prints
on the slope back down to the barn. But that was then
yes, there’s always then and now and the snowscapes of in-between.
Her breath catches. Never bury a child far from the house. Smoothing
that red wool stocking stretched at the toe, she holds it to her cheek.
Never bury a child where she can’t hear you singing.

The Empty Quarter:  poems by Fawzi Karim in versions by Anthony Howell after translations made by the Author. Born in Baghdad in 1945 and now living in London, Fawzi Karim is rapidly establishing a reputation as a major figure in contemporary poetry.  Plague Lands, his first book of poems in translation was a Poetry Book Society recommendation for 2011.  Anthony Howell’s first collection, Inside the Castle, was brought out in 1969.  His most recent book of poems is The Ogre’s Wife, Anvil 2010. Published 2013 ISBN 978-1-903006-04-7

ON THE HIGHEST PEAK
 
On the highest peak,
The deer edge towards my retreat,
Soliciting a blessing
From the cradle of my newborn pain.
 
The deer kneel then turn away.
The eagle will not risk a restless wind.
Empty are the clouds that frequent my retreat,
Presenting fronts darkened by anxiety.
 
Passing through the clouds I peer down on the city.
Its roofs are stacked with the nests of storks
While its palms are fans for its siesta,
Lending it shade and a breeze for the streets.
 
There are boats unmoored on its timeless rivers,
But ages of sand drift across well known features,
And now it’s clear that the city looks more like a corpse
Hovered over by wings which end in claws.
 
Ice forms on my coat and freezes me to my seat.

 

The Wreckage – Born in Montreal, Kerry-Lee Powell has lived in Antigua, Australia and the United Kingdom, where she studied Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cardiff University. Her work has appeared in The Spectator, MAGMA and The Boston Review. A full collection of poetry will be published in Canada by Biblioasis Press in 2014. The lyric poems in this pamphlet were in­spired by a shipwreck endured by Powell’s father during the Second World War, his subsequent struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, and eventual suicide. Published 2013 ISBN 978 -1-903006-05-4

THE WRECKAGE
 
If all is wrecked between us, it’s because
A pair of wing-tips on the other side of the world
Closed in prayer to make this small breath,
Like the breath of a child blowing a candle-wish,
 
That only gathered salt and squalls as it grew swift.
They say it often begins like this.
Now the ends of the earth are littered with our fragments
Like flocks of terns on an arctic ice-cliff,
 
Or like words on torn-up sheets of paper
In a language that I try not to remember,
Spelled out again like moths around the flicker
Of your face that often flares at me in strangers.
 
Look how I make the most of what’s at hand
Like a match-girl out for kindling in a windy land.

 

Early  Morning – Donald Gardner has been writing poetry since the early 1960s. Recent collections include The Wolf Inside (2014) and The Glittering Sea (2006), both published by Hearing Eye. He is also a translator of poetry and his selection of Remco Campert’s poetry, In those Days (Shoestring 2014) was awarded the Vondel Prize for literary translation. Born in London, he divides his time between Amsterdam and Kildare. Many of these new poems started life in the early morning. First thing, before the mind steps in to remind you of more irksome issues, that’s when I usually write. ‘Early morning’ is not so much the theme of this book as the background music. Published 2017 ISBN 978-1-903006re10-8

See review in London Grip

SWEET MUSE OF POETRY
 
Muse of gentleness,
of gaiety and laughter. A small hint from your eyes,
was enough for me to fall for you,
like the tower of a child’s building blocks
that a tug at a carpet hem may bring down.
 
This is the tower, this early morning.
Nothing stirs in the house.
Outside there’s the thunder of Saturday’s garbage round;
otherwise the stillness is uncanny. It’s early
in January. The day
can’t make its mind up whether to begin.
 
Muse of my heartbroken heart:
I have no choice but to fall asleep again or write
and I can’t get back to sleep.

Dialysis Days – Hugo Williams was born in 1942. His latest book of poems is I Knew the Bride (Faber & Faber 2014). The next will be Lines Off, forthcoming in 2019. He wrote the Freelance column in The Times Literary Supplement for many years and lives in London. Published 2018 ISBN 978-1-903006-11-5

 

A BRILLIANT TRICK
 
Being well is such a brilliant trick
with all its happy healthy fun.
Nobody likes you when you’re sick.
 
They think you’re being melodramatic,
trying to divert attention
from their own favourite trick
 
of appearing busy and energetic
all the time, so that no one
suspects them of being sick.
 
They can’t imagine your own chronic
ill health and depression
is anything more than a cheap trick
 
to deceive anyone sympathetic
enough to your condition
to think you might be genuinely sick.
 
You end up having to mimic
the way healthy people carry on.
Being well is a useful trick.
Everyone hates you when you’re sick.

 

       

Paper-Money Lyrics – Alan Jenkins has published six volumes of poetry, the most recent of which are A Shorter Life (2005) and Revenants (2013). He edited the Collected Poems of Ian Hamilton (2009). White Nights, a volume of his translations from French, will appear in 2015. He has taught in Paris and the United States but has lived for most of his life in London, where he works as Deputy Editor and Poetry Editor of the Times Literary Supplement. Published 2014 ISBN 978-1-903006-07-8

 
BACKWATER
 
Basking in the Mayfair afternoon, The Killer Whale,
The male. Undersea light filters through the fronds
Of sea-grass—urban ferns and hanging-basket leafage.
He has come to feed, he lunches on small fry and crustaceans
 
Which he crunches, on gilts and bonds, on something by Jeff Koons
And the woman’s cleavage. There is a need for overpowering
In his hands, which prod her here and there, feeling
For the soft spots, the intimate recesses where
 
He can deliver hurt—there is a need for devouring
In his playful excesses, sea-spurt and sea-squirt!
Such vagaries of appetite, and only the ocean
To nourish him…Why her stunned face, why that commotion
 
In the shallows, that wave of indignation on the shore?—
Unrest among the bottom-feeders, clicking of iPhones,
Writing of leaders. You can’t fuck with someone’s head
In peace, in public, any more. It’s outrageous. It’s a bore.

 

       

Sonnets from Elizabeth’s – after Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. Rosanne Wasserman’s poems can be found in print and online, in the Best American Poetry annual series, Ek-phra-sis, Conduit, Jacket 2, Maggy, How2 and elsewhere. Her books of poems include The Lacemakers (1992), No Archive on Earth (1995), and Other Selves (1999), as well as Place du Carousel (2001) and Psyche and Amor (2009), collaborations with her husband, the poet Eugene Richie, with whom she runs the Groundwater Press, a nonprofit poetry publisher. She has written on John Ashbery and Grace Paley for Massachusetts Review; on Pierre Martory James Schuyler and Ruth Stone for American Poetry Review; and on Marianne Moore, Dara Wier and others. She and Eugene Richie co-edited Ashbery’s Collected French Translations (2014). Published 2017 ISBN 978-1-903006-09-2

7.
What changes everything?
Sex, you say? Death sure doesn’t: life goes on
anyway, though you’ve got your toes on
a new front line, almost something
unexpectedly sweet, like swinging
chimes some wild wind blows on,
commuting the panic to marvel, an ozone
high. That’s why if anything
works for us, it’s us, and our lonesome past
points forward to each other,
as if it were a single crystal, orderly, fast
on its feet: and when what we call time’s over,
when we’re gone, they could cast
a model of how-to from us: friend and lover

 

           

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

THE RESURRECTION, TARBERT
 
Cousin Christie asks me to confirm
some talk he recollects, that my grandfather
was buried at sea. Now that I have toured
 
the graveyards of Ballylongford, recited
the family names chiselled into the stones,
I share his unease. I used to believe
 
in cremation, scatter me, maybe, close to my
rented flat on the anonymous grass of Blackheath.
Standing in the graveyard of St. Mary’s, Tarbert,
 
my relations lying two or three in every row, 
for the first time in my life I would have sworn I was home.
If we do rise, Stanley Spencer style,
 
heaving the lids off of our tombs, blinking
in the perfect light, our naked feet ecstatic
on the green green grass, I would put money aside
 
to have my body transported here from a far city,
as my great aunt and uncle have done.
But my grandmother is not here.
 
She is lost, like my grandfather, in a Garden
of Remembrance in Croydon and it would not
be the same without her to make the introductions.

        *      *      *

Chap-books are £5 each post free in the UK from Books at The Room, 33 Holcombe Road, London N17 9AS. Special deal – Three chap-books for the price of two – £10 post free in the UK from the same address. Include address to mail to and which chap-books you want.

 

Visit Grey Suit Editions UK  for details about all our published books, or scroll down on our blog (Journal) – where they can be found as well.