Poems by John Latham
John Latham is one of the most original poets to have emerged in the 1980’s. He has won many major prizes in national poetry competitions. All-Clear, his third Peterloo collection, follows Unpacking Mr Jones (1982) and From the Other Side of the Street (1985), both of which drew enthusiastic national review notices:
’Whether writing from the child’s-eye view or the man’s, John Latham emerges from this sad, funny, tender book as a poet who sees truths from a strikingly original angle of vision’.
Jeremy Hooker, Anglo-Welsh Review
’The poetic effects are subtle . . . yet he is able to make the tiniest details sing. Unsentimental, plain, but rhythmically invigorating . . .’
John Greening, Poetry Review
I’ve made this pit into my home.
Stool with horse-hair cushion,
scripts all neatly stacked,
hammock slung between the joists,
brazier for tea and rabbit stew.
Great actors are outlaws,
flawed and fancy-free.
They don’t need to see me,
they move to my faint shadow
when I frown or shake my head.
When blindness came
I learned to finger-scan the scripts
and soon could palm whole sections
if I turned my skin to wax.
No need now to light my candles.
Great actors are children,
light with memories,
each opening of the curtain a new day.
If they race into the sun too fast
I tap the stage to make them falter.
Now I’m almost deaf, I gauge pace
from flexing of the boards.
Today I fell asleep in ‘Uncle Vanya’.
Thank God there’s just one story
- different tellings.
Great actors are ghosts,
bringing us new visions
from days of rush and quill.
They don’t need to hear me. Enough
to know I’m with them, mouthing.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover photograph: courtesy of Carmarthen Museum. Photo: Pete Davis. Model: Sean Delaney.
Publication: SPRING 1990 (64 pages laminated paperback)