Friday, June 29, 2012

Full Blood–John Siddique


Love Poem.

I want the next thing I write to have you in it,
I always do. I want to write about your hair,
or your hands, or the smile you have when you
crack with emotion. But the next poem
has a white wall in it, and a halogen lamp
that’s so bright, it leaves ghost trails in the eyes,
and is dangerously hot to touch.


The next poem has got a beech wood in too, or
the path that runs through the wood, and a
with a dog who smiles when you greet her.
It will be a love poem, the next poem with you in.
They always are love poems, even when they turn
to have bombs in them, or politics, or light


FullBlood -j siddique

Full Blood is an anthology of poetry, previously published in an assortment of  magazines, poetry journals & shared anthologies (Granta, The Guardian, Poetry Review, & The Rialto), before being collated in this work. The subject matter is as wide and as varied as life can be in our times and is encapsulated by the poem above, which even when it wants to discuss one subject it can’t help bringing in others. So the poetry runs through subjects such as the War (Afghanistan), Childhood, Racism, sex etc.


In the official bumf for this collection it states that, “Full Blood is John Siddique's fourth full-length collection of poems for adults. Erotic, physical, completely open and fully engaged with the moral urgency of life, Siddique tackles his themes robustly and yet with great sensitivity, constantly defining and reimagining what it is to be a man in today's world, living fully in the moment”.


All of which makes sense and is a fitting description of this book, this is muscular erotic poetry, the writing is beautiful as only someone who loves language - whatever it’s shape, whether fey or concrete, whether spiritual or something more bloodied, visceral can write. John Siddique has said that he regards his true countries of birth to be Literature & Language, this I can believe, but it isn’t what I want to say. What  I want to say is that sometimes all those wonderful descriptions, all that verbosity etc., although by its very nature is wonderful, just gets in the way and all that really needs saying is…



Imagine thirst without knowing water.
And you ask me what freedom means.
Imagine love without love.

Some things are unthinkable,
until one day the unthinkable is here.
Imagine thirst without knowing water.

Some things we assume just are as they are,
no action is taken to make or sustain them.
Imagine love without love.

It is fear that eats the heart: fear and
endless talk, and not risking a step.
Imagine thirst without knowing water.

Fold away your beautiful thoughts.
Talk away curiosity, chatter away truth.
Imagine love without love.

Imagine believing in the whispers,
the screams and the gossip. Dancing to a tune
with no song to sing inside you.
Imagine love without love.


The Road.

Carrying my father home.
His photograph pressed between the pages
of a notebook as if he were some flower
cut and kept for the memory, but as
with all memories locked into pages
and books, unless someone records the details,
the name, the place, a record of the event,
then things get lost to the linearity of time.


I am to carry my father.
I am my father’s son.
I am my father’s father.
I carry him in my cells,
in my pages, in my mouth,
In every word I do not say.
He is the absence of silence.
The solitude of noise.
He is the road that leads out
Of the city to the country.
I am the one who takes
the road both directions.


Find out More.

Salt Publishing (Full Blood)

John Siddique.

John Siddique (blogspot)

John Siddique (Wiki)

British Council

John Siddique (born 1964) is a British poet, essayist and author. He grew up in a house with no books; his discovery of his local library when young began his life long love affair with what words mean and how they sit together. He has published three previous collections of poetry, one of which is for children, and was shortlisted for the CLPE poetry award. He has also co-authored a collection of short stories, and written a short play for BBC Radio 3. He teaches poetry workshops both in UK and abroad, and has worked with The Arvon Foundation, The Poetry Society, The Poetry School and the British Council. He has been a visiting lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan and Vienna Universities. He is well known for his captivating readings, his infectious love of literature and his ability to communicate with all types of audiences. He teaches poetry and creative writing in the UK and abroad.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Natty HAT Comp–Competition Winner.

Having survived my alien encounter, although not totally with dignity intact, tarnished yes, in tatters possibly, but my ego has amazing powers of recuperation & a wonderful way of forgetting anything detrimental to its own vision of its self. Anyway, I survived my encounter & you survived the endurance course that was my post so this needs marking, this calls for a celebration, a Winner of the infamous Natty Hat Comp  (The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop). Now, traditionally I call on my glamorous assistant to pluck a winner out of the hat and not being one to break with tradition (especially ones I instigated) here goes.IMAG0280IMAG0279

To the right are the entrants and here is my glamorous assistant with The Natty Hat.

THE Winner of Natty Hat Competition is………………….lengthy pause………………… build suspense, the winner is  Mae.


All that is left to do is thank all that took part & a big thanks to my Assistant for her help.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Further Adventures Of The Natty Hat Comp (The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop)


I was cycling home from work this evening, suitably attired, complete with my natty hat, when this strange light bedazzled me, now my first reaction I’m ashamed to say was to hurl a string of expletives like toxic pearls into the air, thinking some car had once again chosen to blind me instead of dip its lights. This reaction was momentary, as I was then absorbed into the light in some fashion that only a scientist or some trekkie would have an inclination of. Finding myself upon some non-terrestrial craft, I went into a first stage panic, having seen enough films & read enough  books  about alien abduction,  I tried to jump through what appeared to be the window/porthole-thingummy jig, after picking myself up of the floor & holding on to the minuscule degree of dignity I had left, I suddenly realised that I could hear a voice “If you want a shower, Just ASK!”. Now well into stage two panic I ran, then crawled into the darkest corner I could find (turned out to be the laundry basket) & grabbed a book. The voice obviously disdainful & downright embarrassed by the pitiful life form it had hauled onto its craft, with utter disgust,  kicked me off. I landed a few yards from where my bike lay, then before flying off it left me with these words ringing in my ear “I Was Told This Planet Was Full Of Intelligent Social Animals!!”.
Now what has this got to do with the infamous Natty Hat Comp – Literary Blog Hop? Wellllll, if you allow me a moment of verbosity, I’ll explain. As you may have realised, I survived the abduction & after crawling home on my bike, hat askew but still sat upon my head, I attempted to justify my somewhat cowardly action by stating I needed to survive in order to create some challenge for the Natty Hat Comp.*******
This is what I came up with (Sorry!). If you are stuck on an alien spaceship what book would be your safety blanket, or refuge, in other words what is your favourite book for getting away from this world.

Now as per tradition I’ll go first, one book that I have had a copy of for as long as I can recall is Ted Hughes Crow - From the life & songs of the Crow, yes I know it’s a book of poetry, but what else did you expect, another one, although I’ve not known it as long, (but the author & the book have in the time since I discovered it  become sort of a bench mark), is  A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel. Now over to you- Show me yours.

As you’ve made it this far, it’s only fair I reveal what it is I’m giving away, so the prize for surviving the endurance course that is this post is either Crow or A Reader on Reading, I’ll leave the choice to you, So leave your answer in the comments box with a means of contacting* You. All those who have entered will be placed in “The Natty Hat” & my Glamorous assistant will pull out the winner , who I will then contact for the necessary details & that’s it, If you like what you see feel free to join, but it’s not a condition of the Competition.
All That is left for me to do is to thank Judith from Leeswammes' Blog, for hosting this wonderful hop again and to introduce you to my fellow conspirators

* any comments that have no contact details will not be entered

Friday, June 22, 2012

Border Lines by John Walsh


John Walsh is a poet and fiction writer and has had three poetry collections published, including Johnny Tell Them (Guildhall Press, 2006), Love’s Enterprise Zone (Doire Press, 2007) and Chopping Wood with T.S. Eliot (Salmon Poetry, 2010). He is also the MC and organiser of North Beach Poetry Nights, the longest running poetry slam in Ireland, so when I read about this short story collection on The Reading Life & was then offered the chance to read this book my curiosity was truly piqued.

The tales in Border Lines start at the end of the 1960s and visit several points in the next decade, a period of British history shadowed by the conflict (The Troubles) in Northern Ireland, of which the main issues at stake were the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the relationship between the two factions. The Protestant unionist and  Catholic nationalist communities, both had political and military (or paramilitary) dimensions embedded deep within their respective communities, forming an ever-present facet to the day to day existence of all who lived through this period. Although these troubles are an omnipresence in the shadows of these tales, they occasionally  burst out into the light of day & become the tale or part of it, as  in the title story Border Lines,  which is set in Derry during these troubles and follows a solicitor frustrated with his role as a “messenger boy” between two friends, or in Beautiful Day which is a wonderful snapshot of a perfect day, in this case a first ever fishing trip, that becomes a fragment of memory forever overshadowed by a tragedy, and then there is Hawk, the tale of a ministerial visit to a school to see the new state of the art computer room, and the fantastic new computer program, Hawk, which is a history archive allowing pupils to tap all available archives and cross-reference them for validity. All I will say on this tale, is this is the history of Ireland & if you want to know more click on the Hawk link and read this brilliantly written tale.

There is another link that connects these stories, who acts as an axis around which these tales revolve, Ian, who we first meet after he has met his hero Jimi Hendrix, an event of great magnitude to him, that is later clouded by an outburst of violence from his father. We follow Ian as he bumbles trying to understand the world about him, struggling between the poles of self-doubt and self-discovery. Although we follow Ian, the tale isn’t linear, it’s more like slices from his life that are presented to us, shards that are offered up for our view, allowing us a chance of examining this world and in return reflecting our own.

This is a wonderful anthology of stories, that I thank the author John Walsh, for the pleasure gained from them & Mel U from The Reading Life for alerting me to their existence.


Doire Press

 John Walsh Poet

Reviews (Hawk)

The Reading Life’s Review

Friday, June 15, 2012

Post-War Japanese Poetry

After the destruction left by the Pacific war (1945), Japan’s poets were stunned, demoralised and left coming to terms with the shock of total defeat. The first poets to raise their heads in this bleak period, had to look hard at what they saw and along with their nation reinvent themselves. One of the earliest of the new groups to appear was “Arechi” (Wasteland) taking their name from the T.S Elliot Poem, translated by Nishiwaki Junzaburo  (1894 – 1982) which  received great critical acclaim. The name of the school chimed with the desolation of the landscape and the doom-laden atmosphere of those first years of peace. The Arechi poets mixed the influences of T.S Elliot and W.H. Auden with the Existentialist musings of writers such as Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre to express their perception of themselves and through that their country; prominent amongst this group were the poets Miyoshi Toyoichiro, Kitamura Taro, Kuroda Saburo, Tamura Ryuichi. Tamura’s writing from the early post-war period, rejected the Modernist Ideas of distance and art, replacing them with direct communication through the simplicity of mundane everyday speech as a way of dealing with the prevalent social and political world view, expressing vividly the destructive nature of the nations poetry in the late 1940’s. The Poet Ooka Makoto has written about this period stating that..

“The key subjects for poetry in this period were devastation, anxiety, desperation and death; this reflected the social circumstances just as prose writing does. Poets, living in grim uncertainty and suffering the horrifying aftermath of the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, generally expressed their pessimistic vision of the future of humankind through their works.”

Four Thousand Days and Nights
In order for a single poem to come into existence,
you and I have to kill,
have to kill many things,
many lovable things, kill by shooting, kill by assassination,
kill by poisoning.

Look !

Out of the sky of four thousand days and nights,
just because we wanted the trembling tongue of one
small bird,
four thousand nights of silence and four thousand days
of counterlight
you and I killed by shooting.


Out of all the cities of falling rain, smelting furnaces,
midsummer harbours, and coal mines,
just because we needed the tears of a single hungry child
four thousand clays of love and four thousand nights of
you and I killed by assassination.
Just because we wanted the fear of one vagrant dog
who could see the things you and I couldn't see with our
and could hear the things you and I couldn't hear with our
four thousand nights of imagination and four thousand days
of chilling recollection
you and I killed by poison.
In order for a single poem to come
you and I have to kill beloved things.
This is the only way to bring back the dead to life.
You and I have to follow that way.
                                                    RYUICHI TAMURA

By the  early 1950’s Japan, as a nation, had begun to  emerge from the poverty and the deprivation of the immediate post-war years and was starting to reappraise the Japanese values hastily  abandoned with the post-war surge to western idealism. Although by the beginning of the 1950’s the mainstream had coalesced around the Arechi group, by 1954, according to one of their founding members (Kuroda Saburo) they were losing their intensity. These changes were reflected in the poetry, in 1952 Tanikawa Shuntaro published The Isolation of Two Billion Light Years, hailed as the the first poet of the post-war generation. The following year he founded Kai (Oar) group with  fellow writers such as Yoshino Hiroshi, Ooka Makoto & Kawasaki Hiroshi. Members of the Kai School were lyric poets, expressing the new hopes of the Japanese at this time and acting as a counterpoint to the nihilism of the Arechi poets. In 1959 Wani (Crocodile) a neo–surrealist magazine and group came into being, co-founded by Yoshioka Minoru, Ooka Makota & leading surrealist poet Iijima Koichi and from the 1960’s Shintaishi (New Style poetry*)Poets extended their interests beyond the usual confines and into the areas of radio & television, specifically writing for children (Poetry & Stories) and also publishing works of criticism & translation. Also with the governments lifting of restrictions during this period, the possibility for poetry further opened up, allowing interaction with poets from other nations via travel and cultural exchange visits. At this point American poetry, in particular the Beat writers such as , Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder ( who learnt Japanese & translated Miyazawa Kenji )  were themselves being influenced by  traditional forms of Japanese poetry. Another major factor since the sixties is that the number of women poets has grown rapidly, poets like Isaka Yoko, Ito Hiromi, Ibaragi Noriko and possibly one of the better known Shiraishi Kazuko, who published her first collection of poetry in the early 1950’s & in the seventies developed as a performance artist. Most of these poets share a concern with language and the idea of creating new words and sounds, attempting to circumvent standard thought processes and create new ideas.

The 1989  the death of Emperor Hirohito is considered the official end-point of the post-war period. What was originally a reaction to the birth pangs of a new Japan, rising from total annihilation of the pacific war, became a liberation and released a creativity that could redefine itself how it saw fit, opening up new forms and experimentation. What it also did was give a literal and a metaphorical ground zero with the image of Japan as perceived before and after Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the atomic bomb.IMAG0151

This is a very brief image of the history of Japanese poetry in the post-war period and in no way does it justice, it merely helped to straighten out certain ideas for myself and as such can be considered no more than a synopsis, a map reference to a subject that has been dealt with by people with far greater knowledge than myself. The post was inspired by a book of poetry that I believe is out of print, but still readily available – Penguin Post-war Japanese poetry, edited and translated by Harry & Lynn Guest and Kajima Shozo, this was published in 1972. Whilst researching for this post I used ideas gained from Leith Morton's fantastic Modernism in Practice – An Introduction to Post-war Japanese Poetry, which I hope to write about some day as it’s well worth a read, also another wonderful book to inspire anyone interested in Japanese Poetry is The penguin Book Of Japanese Verse by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite.
When I was most Beautiful
When I was most beautiful,
Cities were falling 
And from unexpected places
Blue sky was seen.
When I was most beautiful,
People around me were killed.
And for paint and powder
I lost the chance.

When I was most beautiful,
Nobody gave me kind gifts,
Men knew only how to salute
And went away.
When I was most beautiful,
My country lost the war.
I paraded the main street
With my blouse sleeves rolled high!

When I was most beautiful,
Jazz overflowed the radio,
I broke the prohibition against smoking
Sweet music of another land!
When I was most beautiful,
I was most unhappy,
I was quite absurd,
I was quite lonely.
                    Ibaragi Noriko
Japanese Poetry(Wiki)
Japanese Poetry- Free Verse (Jiyu-shi)
Modern Japanese Poetry One hundred Years
Kenneth Rexroth
Translation from the JapaneseThe New Modernism - Japanese Modernist & Avant-Garde Poetry,                                  Translations, Explorations.
Nihon distractionsPost-war Japanese Poetry
Harry Guest (Translation both ways)

* The origins of Shintaishi or New Style poetry are from the late 19th century,  originally inspired by Japanese translations of Western Poetry (Shakespeare, Longfellow, Robert Bloomfield and Thomas Gray), it is usually traced  to the publication in 1882 of a volume of translation of the aforementioned poets. This was followed seven years later by Omokage (Semblances) a collection of new style poems many of the translations were by Mori Ogai, who at one point was the Surgeon- general in the Imperial army & a leading novelist.  It gradually evolved to retain the eloquent imagery of Japanese poetry but was more fluid and lengthier than the more familiar haiku and tanka.

I’d like to finish this piece with another Quote from Ooka Makoto, this one about the power of words.

“In the midst of this historical upheaval, ‘words’, the only weapon poets and literary men have, seem to fall short and offer no assistance. But I cannot but help believe that words do have the power to offer humankind genuine salvation and comfort, as well as hope and energy for the future.
Words may not be able to make any apparent difference in the world of politics and in society, but that does not mean that poetry is devoid of power. Poetry can quietly and softly penetrate our hearts and remind us that this world is still a wonderful place to live in, full of countless charms and things to love. In other words, poetry is an extremely delicate and intricate product of the human mind which can contribute immensely to harmonizing and regenerating the processes of the human mind.”

(Trans - Yasuhiro Yotsumoto)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lawrence Durrell (A centenary Celebration 13-16 June 2012)


Lawrence Durrell was born on February 27th 1912 in Jalandhar , India, the eldest son (the others being Leslie, Margaret, and Gerald) of Indian-born British colonials Louisa and Lawrence Samuel Durrell. His first school was St Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling . On reaching the age of eleven Lawrence was sent to England, briefly attending St Olave's Grammar School , before settling at St Edmund's School , Canterbury, he failed his entrance exam to university.


His father died soon after, and Durrell with his share of the inheritance headed to Bloomsbury with the intention of becoming a writer - he had his first collection of poetry Quaint Fragment, published in 1931 at the age of 19. In January 1935 he married Nancy Isobel Myers (his first of four marriages), and by March of the same year he had convinced his wife, mother & siblings to leave England and set up home in Corfu, ostensibly to live more economically, but with the additional aim of escaping both the English weather and stultifying English culture, often referred to by Durrell as “the English death” a major factor in why he resisted affiliation with Britain, preferring to be considered a cosmopolitan writer. 1935 was also the year his first novel Pied Piper of Lovers , was published and also around this time, after reading a copy of Henry Miller 's 1934 novel Tropic of Cancer, he wrote Miller an enthusiastic letter stating his admiration for the novel and Miller replied with equal enthusiasm. It was the start of a correspondence - and a friendship - which would last 45 years, until Miller's death in 1980. His next novel was The Black Book written in 1938, a work heavily influenced by Millers writing. This mildly risqué work didn’t get published in Britain until 1973. In the story, the main character Lawrence Lucifer struggles to escape the spiritual sterility of a dying England.

Lawrence with his wife Nancy, lived a bohemian existence, first living with his family, before setting up home in the “White House”, a fisherman's cottage on the shore of Corfu's north-eastern coast at Kalami, a tiny fishing village, visited by friends such as the poet Theodore Stephanides and Henry Miller who stayed there in 1939. It was also during this period (Aug’,1937) that he & Nancy travelled to the Villa Seurat in Paris to meet Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin. Together with Alfred Perles, they began a collaboration with the ambition of creating their own literary movement, they also started the Villa Seurat Series, publishing Durrell’s Black Book, Miller's Max and the White Phagocytes, and Nin's Winter of Artifice, with Jack Kahane of the Obelisk Press on board as the publisher.

durrellAt the outbreak of the Second world war, Durrell’s family returned to Britain, whilst Lawrence and Nancy remained on the island. In 1940 they had a daughter Penelope Berengaria, soon after this Greece fell to the Germans & they both had to escape via Crete, then on to Alexandria in Egypt. This added more stress to a relationship already under strain and in 1942 they separated with Nancy & child moving to Jerusalem.

Whilst in Egypt, Lawrence Durrell worked as a Press attaché to the British Embassies, first in Cairo and then moving on to Alexandria. It was here that he met Yvette Cohen (Eve) a native of the city and who inspired the character of Justine (Alexandria Quartet). After his divorce in 1947 he married Eve and in 1951 they had a baby girl whom they named after the ancient Greek poet Sappho.

After the war (1945), he left Egypt, to become a public relations officer for the British in Rhodes. He and Eve moved into the little gatekeeper's lodge of an old Turkish cemetery, where they set up home, this wasn’t to last long, as in 1947 they returned briefly to England before heading off to Argentina, where Durrell had been hired by the British Council as appointed director of their Institute in Córdoba (lecturing on cultural topics). Argentina wasn’t to his liking, so a year later he returned to Britain before taking a posting with the Foreign Office in Yugoslavia (Belgrade). Isolated and miserable in a country hostile to his way of life, Durrell, found life under Communism had little appeal for him and by 1952 he had left, if asked about it he enjoyed shocking people claiming that it had made him a Fascist. Also in 1952 Eve had a breakdown, needing treatment in a hospital in England. Durrell moved to Cyprus with his daughter Sappho Jane, where he bought a house. He supported his writing by first teaching English literature at the Pancyprian Gymnasium, then by public relations work for the British Gov’t, which became the basis for his book Bitter Lemons, (winner of the Duff Cooper Prize in 1957). In 1954 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 1955 he and Eve separated.

August 1956, The ENOSIS movement wanted the end to British rule and for Cyprus to be returned to Greece, making him with his British Government  position an obvious target for assassination, forcing him to leave Cyprus. This time (1957) he settled in Sommières, a small village in Languedoc, (where he pretty much stayed), also in 1957 he published Justine, the first part of what was to become his most famous work, the four books that make the tetrology - The Alexandria Quartet (Justine, Balthazar in 1958, Mountolive in 1958 and Clea in 1960). The book was a great hit with the critics, praised for its richness of style, the variety and vividness of its characters, its movement between the personal and the political, and its exotic locations in and around the city which Durrell portrays as the chief protagonist: "... the city which used us as its flora – precipitated in us conflicts which were hers and which we mistook for our own: beloved Alexandria!" The Times Literary Supplement review of the tetralogy stated: "If ever a work bore an instantly recognizable signature on every sentence, this is it." There was some suggestion that Durrell might be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, although this was not to materialize.

In 1961 Lawrence married again, this time to Claude-Marie Vincendon, although she was from Alexandria they actually met on Cyprus. Now ensconced in  the small village where he had purchased a large house, standing secluded in its own extensive walled grounds on the edge of the village, he started writing The Revolt of Aphrodite, comprising Tunc (1968) and Nunquam (1970), he also lost his wife to cancer (1967) which left him devastated. In 1973 he entered into his fourth and final marriage to Ghislaine de Boysson, this marriage lasted 6 years with them divorcing in 1979. During this period he wrote The Avignon Quintet, a five-volume series of novels (Monsieur, Livia, Constance, Sebastian and Quinx ) published between 1974 and 1985, which revisited several of the themes and motifs of the Quartet and Although it is frequently described as a quintet, Durrell himself referred to it as a "quincunx".  Monsieur,, received the 1974 James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Constance was nominated for the 1982 4584676927_0aef691257Booker Prize .

Lawrence Durrell had long suffered from emphysema  and in 1990 he died of a stroke at his house in Sommières.

Major works

Pied Piper of Lovers                             
Panic Spring,
The Black Book


White Eagles Over Serbia

The Alexandria Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive,  Clea)

The Revolt of Aphrodite (Tunc, Nunquam )

The Avignon Quintet (Monsieur: or, The Prince of Darkness, Livia: or, Buried Alive ,Constance: or, Solitary Practices, Sebastian: or, Ruling Passions, Quinx: or, The Ripper's Tale


Prospero's Cell: A guide to the landscape and manners of the island of Corcyra[Corfu] (1945; republished 2000)Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953)

Bitter Lemons (1957; republished as Bitter Lemons of Cyprus 2001)

Blue Thirst (1975)

Sicilian Carousel (1977)

The Greek Islands (1978)

Caesar's Vast Ghost (1990)


Quaint Fragments (1931)

Ten Poems (1932)

Transition: Poems (1934)

A Private Country (1943)

Cities, Plains and People (1946)

On Seeming to Presume (1948)

Selected Poems: 1953–1963 Edited by Alan Ross (1964)

The Ikons (1966)

The Suchness of the Old Boy (1972)

Collected Poems: 1931–1974 Edited by James A. Brigham (1980)

Selected Poems of Lawrence Durrell Edited by Peter Porter (2006)





Bromo Bombastes, under the pseudonym Gaffer Peeslake (1933)

Sappho: A Play in Verse (1950)

An Irish Faustus: A Morality in Nine Scenes (1963)

Acte (1964)


Esprit de Corps (1957)

Stiff Upper Lip (1958)

Sauve Qui Peut (1966)

Antrobus Complete (1985), a collection of short stories, previously published in various magazines, about life in the diplomatic corps.

Letters & Essays

A Key to Modern British Poetry (1952)

Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller: A Private Correspondence (1962) edited by George Wickes

Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel (1969) edited by Alan G. Thomas

Literary Lifelines: The Richard Aldington—Lawrence Durrell Correspondence (1981) edited by Ian S. MacNiven and Harry T. Moore

A Smile in the Mind's Eye (1982)

"Letters to T. S. Eliot." (1987) Twentieth Century Literature vol. 33 no. 3 pp. 348–358.

The Durrell-Miller Letters: 1935–80 (1988) edited by Ian S. MacNiven

Letters to Jean Fanchette (1988) edited by Jean Fanchette

Editing and translating

Wordsworth; Selected by Lawrence Durrell (1973) edited by Durrell

New Poems 1963: A P.E.N. Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (1963) edited by Durrell

The Best of Henry Miller (1960) edited by Durrell

The Curious History of Pope Joan (1954) by Emmanuel Roídes, translated by Durrell

The King of Asine and Other Poems (1948) by George Seferis, translated by Durrell, Bernard Spencer, and Nanos Valaoritis

Six Poems From the Greek of Sikelianós and Seféris (1946) translated by Durrell


The International Lawrence Durrell Society                                                                                                                                    

The Lawrence Durrell Centenary                                                                                 Paris Review ( Interview)

Invention of Spring( An Introduction)                                                              Guardian Podcast(Lawrence Durrell at 100)

Faber & Faber (Lawrence Durrell)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Little Caesar (Caesarion)

Tommy Wieringa

In the port of Alexandria, a very long time ago, Julius Caesar impregnated then abandoned Cleopatra. The child of their union – groomed for greatness by his devoted mother but destined for tragedy – was called Caesarion. Little Caesar.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In our time another boy, Ludwig, is born in Alexandria and again the father flees, leaving the boy and his mother to move on. She, Marthe, is stormy and vain. She will not rest until she finds their ideal home – which needs to be both dramatic and cheap,  and so they end up living in some crumbling old house on the cliff tops of Alburgh in Suffolk - living in a constant state of awareness that the sea could take away all that they have.

The lines written above are either direct quote or me paraphrasing the back cover of this book. We learn all this through Ludwig, who has returned to Alburgh as an adult for a funeral of his once neighbour (and the man who originally sold his mother the house). Ludwig  has taken a job playing piano at a local hotel whilst waiting for the funeral & deciding his next move. At the bar of this hotel he meets this woman, Linny Wallace and over a period of a few days he tells her his life story. It’s through this medium we trace his life story from the young child in Alexandria & the disappearance of his father, through the journey back to Holland where his mother was born & onto the crumbling house on the cliff top, where they live until its collapse & his mother moves to Los Angeles. We learn that his father was an Artist, though all he appeared to do is destroy & his mother was originally a porn star. We follow this through the eyes of Ludwig, learning about the tug and pull of his claustrophobic relationship with his mother of a strange interdependence that’s part love, part horror, of him trying to discover his own father within himself. This leads to the search & discovery of his father, with it comes the realisation of how much he is his mothers son & how little of his father there is. We also follow the last days he has with his mother and  watch as parental roles reverse and what was considered solid can crumble, then all  that’s left is to fathom the pieces.

tw-cThis is a beautifully written book that manages within its 327 pages to fit an awful lot in, that  contained between its pages a multi-layered tale of a complexity that dazzles, you follow Ludwig's story listening to the musicality of the wordplay, as its vast canvas washes over you slowly eroding the external world. This book reminded me of the writing of  Lawrence Durrell, the combination of the  lyricism, acute psychological insight and the sheer ambition of the storytelling.

Tommy Wieringa(Wiki)

Tommy Wieringa’s Website

Nederlands Letterenfonds



Translator, Sam Garrett (b. 1956) is an American who currently divides his time between Amsterdam and the French Pyrenees. As well as work by Frank Westerman he has translated books by Karel Glastra van Loon, Arnon Grunberg, Tim Krabbé, Lieve Joris, Geert Mak and Nanne Tepper among others.

Sam Garrett (Vondel Translation Prize 2009)

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Book of Answers–C.Y. Gopinath

The day one receives a book which claims to have an answer to all the ills of this planet, should be a cause for celebration. Shouldn’t it?, and yet when Patros Patranobis is handed this package containing the book, he can’t get rid of it quick enough.

To be fair to Patros, he has spent all his adult life attempting to fly under the radar, to be an observer of his world, rather than some one who does. His way of dealing with problems is to push them to one side, so he sells the book to a dealer in 2nd hand smut mags and walks away, problem solved.  Several months later, the book surfaces as the font of all wisdom for a self styled guru & adviser to one of India's top politicians, Ishwar Prasad, who claiming divine inspiration, passes a whole range of laws with the sole purpose of strengthening his own position as top dog of Indian politics.

Patros is the only one who could upset this powerful individuals plans, who could reveal the lies being passed off as gospel, could reveal that this book has never been opened. In fact the key is missing and only he is capable of finding it’s location, but Patros wants nothing to do with it. This suits Ishwar Prasad & his cronies, for as long the book remains closed they can be inspired in any direction they like, as the author states “there is nothing more dangerous than a book no-one has read”.

Now, everything would be fine here, Patros would go on with his life, passively observing his country falling apart, Ishwar’s plans of dominance would go ahead undeterred. Except Patros has a conscience, in the shape of his common-law wife, the idealistic Rose Jangry and an old friend Arindam Roy, who will manipulate any situation for his own ends. Between them Patros, is cajoled, pushed  duped & generally conned into finding the key – all sorts of scrapes and adventures ensue as our “hero” stumbles around India and finally into direct conflict with Ishwar Prasad.

This book reminded partly of Monty python’s “The Life of Brian, not the subject matter, although religion is slightly poked at, but the humour. By using satire and general absurdity, the writer highlights endemic corruption whether of state, or on an individual level and how easy it is to fool a populace with slight promises and small tokens.

The Book of Answers was shortlisted for The Commonwealth Book Prize 2012, and according to Mark from Eleutherophia, who has read a fair amount of the list, it deserves it’s place. I’ve only read one other from this list and of the two this would be my preference, I thoroughly enjoyed following Patros as he stumbled from point to point, manipulated by all he comes into contact with, in the process becoming an inspiration and a very unwilling hero.

I would like to thank C.Y. Gopinath, for sending this book to me and to Mark for pointing me in this writers direction.