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'I never intended to write poetry.  Keen to get a particular job, I found myself, during the interview, abjectly agreeing with anything the interviewing panel suggested. 'Creative Writing' was pretty well unknown at that time, but Yes, yes, I said brightly, I’m really keen on teaching Creative Writing.  Reality entered into the situation: as an English lecturer, one of the modules I was required to teach was – 'Creative Writing'.  

 

'With some fast footwork, I got away with it, but it wasn't long before my charming insubordinate students went on strike, insisting (quite rightly) that I should do all the tasks I expected them to do. Seminars became lively.

 

'One thing followed another.  Caught in the world of poetry, in the slipstream of my distinguished partner U A Fanthorpe, I have never escaped'.  

RVB

***

 

R. V. Bailey's poetry collections are: Course Work (Culverhay Press, 1997), Marking Time (Peterloo Poets, 2004), The Losing Game (Mariscat, 2010), Credentials (Oversteps, 2012), From Me To You (Peterloo/Enitharmon, 2007) with U A Fanthorpe, A Scrappy Little Harvest (Indigo Dreams, 2016); Co-editor A Speaking Silence: Contemporary Quaker Poetry (with Stevie Krayer) and The Book of Love & Loss (with June Hall).    

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

88 pages

 

£9.99 + P&P UK

 

ISBN 978-1-912876-24-2

 

PUB: 09/12/2019

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yours, etcetera

 

R. V. Bailey

 

 

"As ever, R.V. Bailey wears her learning lightly and expresses passion with classical control. This latest collection casts its net widely.  Most moving are the poems remembering the celebrated and universally loved poet, U.A. Fanthorpe. The entire book is a discreet, understated treasure, a homage to life with love at its centre."

Tim Cunningham  

 

"R. V. Bailey’s poems come from the heart and are nakedly truthful – but also wry, funny, engaging, like the best letters. Their subtlety and understatement, their swerves, ellipses, paradoxes are unpretentious, human, simple; the breaking of bread with the reader."

Stevie Davies  

 

"These are poems that know what they’re doing, the truth

of their purpose achieved through unobtrusive craft.

They are honest approaches to happiness and to hindsight, to all the territory between getting on and getting there,

often with a frankness that is particularly poignant.

Her poems ask questions that we are left to answer,

in the quiet spaces between them."

Ann Drysdale

 

 

 

 

On your birthday, yet again

 

There's not a lot just one can do

But tonight I drink this single malt for you:    

You'd have joined me here today

If we'd had our way.

 

It’s never too late to say hurrah

For all the things you were –

And – I'm pretty certain –

In some sense somewhere probably

Still are.

 

That seditious chuckle;

Your double (whoops) –

Jointed-¬ness; your tolerance

 

Of me. Your resolutions.

(Your magical puddings.)

Your circumlocutions.

 

All the things you'd said and done,  

All those things you never forgot –

 

But hey, I shouldn't go on:

 

To list these festive quiddities won't do:

I'd take all too readily to the bottle

If I were to celebrate  everything

About you.

 

 

A calling          

 

She was a woman. A poor start in life, but you

Can’t change that, and you soon learn. Even

As a child she was grown-up, and like a child she

 

Didn’t count. There wasn’t much money, so

There weren’t many choices. She said yes,

All right, or else just yes. In a mixed class,

 

The teacher didn’t ask her, anyway. Did he

Even know her name? The room was crammed,

And she was always at the back.

 

The last girl picked for a team, she wasn’t

Good at friends. No one tried it on with her,

Or took what didn’t happen further.

 

The telly made it clear it was her spots

(Blemishes, they called them). Or her breath?

She thinks it was her legs perhaps,

 

But didn’t worry much. Being a woman’s

All she knows – and what a woman does. She’s

Not abused. She’s fed. She’s got a bed –

 

She’s lucky. Some day someone will get

Something out of her. Things could be worse.

 

It’s just a waste of time to write this verse?

 

 

The keys of the kingdom

 

Like next-door neighbours we hold the keys

Of the kingdom for each other. And quietly

When they went, they slipped their signatures

Through our letter-box, just in case.

I think of my father (though we didn’t get on),

And pay bills by return. Haunted by mother,

Who took heartbreak on the chin and made a joke

Of it, I mock my own absurdity.

And you – ah you, who are always there –

Your magic makes me whole. Makes me

Forget myself altogether.  

Ghosts have no sense of decorum.

Who’s to say where it will end?  

Desert Island Discs

 

I nearly drowned, getting here.

I suppose I should be glad

I’m not dead.  

 

My choice of music? No song

Suggests itself. But already I’ve heard

The odd bird.

 

The melodies I know belong

To yesterday. And luxury? Ease?

You tease.

 

The Bible and Shakespeare?

I lost my reading glasses in the sea.

Those two are quite enough for me.

 

Will I survive? How will I pass

The time? What’ll I do?

Haven’t a clue.

 

But should you ever come this way,

And the paperwork’s OK,

And you got the right publicity –

 

You might drop off the fee.

 

 

Love, etcetera

 

I'm not good at writing letters.

There's always so much to say, and

So many words.  A protracted education,

A long and undistinguished life,

A thesaurus, a dictionary: all these

Unfitted me for what I want to say.

 

None of it helps, when words

Matter so much, have such dignity,    

Such integrity, can so easily

Burst into flames. For instance,

 

There is love. But there is also, you see,

Etcetera – everything else. Such a lot of it,

And all of it matters – war, and rivers,

Lunacy and loneliness, bears and woodlice,

The blackbird in the evening

And the smell of hope –

 

Let's not even mention adjectives.

 

I am too shy to use that big

Four-letter word. And yet, and yet –

Haphazardly, absurdly,

Most sincerely I remain

 

Yours,

 

                        etcetera.                                                                                      

 

 

Destinations

 

The bus went as far as the Cemetery –

A point not lost on the jokey conductor.

 

The Cemetery Superintendent’s son

Was Dennis; Una, tubercular daughter,

 

Lay dying at home. Outside in sunshine

Dennis and I found grave-stones

 

Useful wickets, until his sixes

Shattered the greenhouse.

Cover painting by J. G. Collingwood

 

9781912876242 Rosie Version 1 HiRes amend

i.m. U A Fanthorpe (1929-2009)