Poems by Elma Mitchell
‘All the characters in Furnished Rooms are imaginative – they live in bed-sitters in a haze of hope, fantasies, despair and routine; any resemblance to human beings is intentional. They have haunted me since my own bed-sitter days, and more persistently since I took part in the unavoidable closing down of a boarding-house. The introductory poem ‘Notice’ is not a satire on landlords, but sets out the regulations for living in a world created and controlled by somebody else,’ – Elma Mitchell
Elma Mitchell was born at Airdrie, Scotland in 1919. She is a professional librarian and has worked in broadcasting, publishing and journalism in London, but is now living in Somerset where she works as a freelance writer and translator. Furnished Rooms is her third Peterloo collection. Her first collection, The Poor Man in the Flesh (1976), was a runner up in The Arts Council of Great Britain and Provincial Booksellers’ Fairs Association Poetry Award for 1977. In the same year she was one of the five 1st-prize winners in the Cheltenham Festival of Literature Poetry Competition. Her second collection, The Human Cage (1979) has sold out.
From the reviews of The Human Cage:
‘Ms Mitchell’s various “I’s” are usually full of experience and empty of cynicism; they protest and accept at once . . . She uses a simple, rather bare language to arrive at an understanding which is rarely simple at all . . . Her best poems are generally those that stick closest to our daily lives; they are clever and heartfelt at once.’ Mark Abley / The Literary Review
‘As in her first collection The Poor Man In The Flesh, Elma Mitchell writes distinctively, expressing a viewpoint often quirkily original in straightforward, unforced language.’ Julian Symons / The Times Literary Supplement
“Elma Mitchell has the rare ability of making tough, compassionate and compelling verse out of the minutiae of domestic existence by linking the apparently trivial with the most urgent human concerns.”
Shirley Toulson / British Book News
Something certainly happened
The Jehovah’s Witnesses
In the first floor front
Said they didn’t see anything
And the comprehensive teacher
On the other side of the passage
Said he couldn’t understand it.
The turf accountant
Heard it, half way upstairs,
And couldn’t account for it.
The lady from the social security
(Always quiet and reliable)
Was shaken rigid, and cried.
Only the one we don’t know what he does -
Him that’s right at the top and speaks to nobody -
He must have done it
Whatever it was.
Price £3.00 per copy post free
Cover illustration: ‘Portrait of Zarrin Kashi overlooking Whitechapel High Street’ (1981) by Leonard McComb. Photo: Paul Wakefield.
Publication: DECEMBER 1983 (54 pages laminated paperback).