Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 14 April 2014

  • Sooner or Later Frank

    You end up listening to his quotient
      of rainy day, blue-mooded songs,
    Sinatra sounding like he’s in a bar
      by drizzly New York docks, the voice
    a lived-in confidential baritone
      that always seems familiar,
    bourbon-shot, 2am reminiscent,
      resigned, resistant to the hurt
    her phrases neutrally, for bashed about
      means changing partners like a shirt,
    a red and white striped Brooks Brothers affair,
      the tie dropped like a hanging man,
    the attitude an emotional outlaw
      who never gets the answers right
    and talks them into blue and indigo
      inflections, gangsterish felt hat
    angled defiantly, tipped north or south
      for studio or for mafia wear,
    and always integral to the Frank look
      that’s in the voice: he’s right in life,
    so centred in it, he’s like a peach stone
      pivotal to brimming texture,
    but at the same time sitting in alone
      on loneliness, an Alka Seltzer glass
    fizzing to opalescence in the hand,
      the woman gone, her Chanel scent
    left as a fuzzy hangover. It’s loss
      he builds on and converts to gain,
    but still it’s trouble, win or lose, and both
      feed into song – the ones you hear –
    his pick-up fuming, just a casual bit,
      her lipstick bleeding on a coffee cup,
    downtown, while he sits sorting out his socks
      to the soundtrack of steady New York rain.

    by Jeremy Reed

    Welcome back to the Weekly Poem after its impromptu early Easter break. We're pleased to tell you about a new poetry event for Oxford! Pass On A Poem gathers together people interested in poetry with the aim of sharing favourite poems by reading them aloud. You can also attend just to sample the selections. This first Oxford meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th June. For more details, and to let people know which poem you’d like to share, contact: james.orton@blackwell.co.uk You can also visit the Pass On A Poem website.


    'Sooner or Later Frank' is copyright © Jeremy Reed, 2014, and reprinted from his book Sooner or Later Frank (2014) by permission of Enitharmon Books.

    Notes from Enitharmon:

    Jeremy Reed was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, and read for his PhD at the University of Essex. He is widely acknowledged as the most imaginatively gifted British poet of his generation, praised by Seamus Heaney for his 'rich and careful writing' and by David Lodge for his ‘remarkable lyric gift’. Björk simply called his work ‘the most beautiful, outrageously brilliant poetry in the world’. His Selected Poems were published by Penguin in 1987. Subsequent collections have been Nineties (Cape, 1990), Dicing for Pearls (1990), Pop Stars (1994), Sweet Sister Lyric (1996), Saint Billie (2001), Duck and Sally Inside (2004) and This is How You Disappear (2007), all from Enitharmon Press. He has also published Heartbreak Hotel (Orion, 2002), a verse biography of Elvis Presley. Jeremy Reed is currently Marine Society Poet Laureate. Sooner or Later Frank is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and you can find out more about it from the Enitharmon website and more about Jeremy Reed from his own website.

    Jeremy Reed’s new book will be launched on Thursday 1 May at The Enitharmon Gallery Bookshop, 
which is located at 10 Bury Place, 
London, WC1A 2JL. The event is not ticketed - entry is free, but places must be reserved by emailing 
Lavinia Singer on 
info@enitharmon.co.uk You can find more details on the Enitharmon website.

    'William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-­artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty­‐five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.' (Marina Warner.)

    You can sign up to the mailing list on the  Enitharmon site to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon's Poem of the Month. You can also find Enitharmon on Facebook.

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