THE TENTH MUSE
Poems by Sylvia Kantaris
Sylvia Kantaris was born and brought up in the Peak District of Derbyshire. She studied French at Bristol and spent much time in Paris. In 1962 she set of with her Greek husband on an extended overland trek to Australia, Where she worked as a tutor in French at Queensland University, had two children, and wrote M.A. and PhD theses on French surrealist poetry. Since 1965 her poetry has appeared in major Australian periodicals and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Verse. She was joint winner of the Poetry Magazine Award in 1969 and her first full collection, Time & Motion, was published by Prism / Poetry Society of Australia in 1975. Sylvia Kantaris won an award in the National Poetry Competition, 1982. She is also co-author, with D.M. Thomas, of News From the Front (Arc Publications, 1983). Since 1974 she has lived in Helston, Cornwall, and is an Open University Tutor in Twentieth Century Poetry. Her poems have appeared in London Magazine, Poetry Review, New Statesman and Times Literary Supplement.
From reviews of Time & Motion:
‘. . . strong, lucid and passionate poetry . . . It’s a long time since I’ve read such proud, intense love poetry, written by woman to man, not in blind sentimentality but in full knowledge of herself , her body, her psyche, her heart . . . Sylvia Kantaris’s fine first book demands to be read and re-read.’ – Carol Treloar / 24 Hours (Australia), 1976
‘Time & Motion is one of the most generous books of poetry I have read in years, not only in its quantity of poems, but even more in its humanity . . . it is a book of poems portraying the spiritual life of a woman, not as a creature apart from others, but as a thinking, feeling and suffering creature among other creatures . . .’ Cal Clothier / Orbis, 1977.
What the Butler Saw
Quite slowly at the outset
the pale girl with doe eyes
undresses to her bodice and her titillating bloomers.
She doesn’t know who tiptoes to the door
and watches through the keyhole, but she shivers
as the villain twiddles his moustaches
before he sneaks back to the servants’ quarters
past the aspidistra in the passage.
And that’s the end of that
though we could speculate
what he did and she did afterwards.
Perhaps he married the cook
and she lived happily ever after . . .
Here the pictures start to flicker quicker than ever
as years pass in the blink of an eye -
a child here, a child there, funerals, weddings,
summers, autumns, winters, Christmases -
decades slip out of sight like silverfish,
the pier begins to strip off bit by bit
and then speed up, its planks and girders,
slot-machines, keyholes and aspidistras,
shivering girls and wicked butlers
intermingling in the winking waters.
THE TENTH MUSE
Price £3.00 per copy post free
Cover illustration: Giulio Romano, ‘Apollo and the Muses’ (Florence) by kind permission of The Mansell Collection.
Publication: DECEMBER 1983 (64 pages laminated paperback).