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.

Grey Suit Editions: Our books part 2 – Larger Publications

Click on each title for the link to more information!

Gertrude Mabel May – An ABC of Gertrude Stein’s Love Triangle – by Gwendolyn Leick.

Written by Mabel Haynes’s granddaughter following the fortuitous discovery of her grandmother’s connection to Stein, this is an innovative exploration of an intimate, complex relationship between three women.

While this book doesn’t follow a chronological form, its subject could be said to begin with Gertrude Stein’s first novel, Q.E.D., which was never published during her lifetime. Q.E.D. represents Stein’s attempt to deal with her first love affair with May Bookstaver, who was also the friend and lover of Mabel Haynes. All three were students at the same Boston medical school: “they came of age in the gilded age and were of a class that expected them to display themselves with the right cut of their garments, the right sort of bearing to carry it off.” While the impact and influence of these women on Stein’s writing has been examined, this is the first time the lives of the women themselves have been fully explored.

The Step is the Foot  – Dance and its relationship to Poetry by Anthony Howell

This fascinating study into the relationship between dance and poetry – the “step” of dance, and the “foot” of verse – presents a complex, intricate interlacing of disciplines. Dappled with personal anecdotes alongside probing evolutionary questions, historical depth and contemporary insights, it is at once thought-provoking and engaging.

The author’s experience as both a dancer and poet inform his unique investigation. He ascribes his long-held passion for both to a deep-rooted childhood awareness of rhythm: “Rhythm is common to both pursuits. Increasingly I have come to feel that dance is a language and that language is a dance.”

Collected Complete Poems – by Iliassa Sequin

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.

The Cross of Carl – An Allegory – by Walter Owen

First published in 1931, The Cross of Carl is a book describing trench warfare with a visionary intensity. It is a masterpiece of the imagination, and one of the most terrifying books you will ever read. The Times Literary Supplement review, on 16 July 1931, called the book “A war allegory” that, “brings back the ugly side of war psychology; it is a description of one of the ‘corpse factories’ of legend – an unbearably ghastly description… This record of what the author himself describes as “an abnormal pathological process” induced by the psychic perturbations of the War, is put forward in the belief that the experience may foreshadow some sort of development in the collective consciousness of mankind.” It was foresight, in a way, but of something more horrible, which would be the Nazi holocaust of World War II.