Spotting Capybaras In The Work of Marc Chagall

Simon Williams began writing poetry at Loughborough University, where he worked under the mentorship of the two resident poets, Roger McGough and Pete Morgan.


He moved to Devon with his wife, the poet Susan Taylor, to run the Creative Writing centre at Totleigh Barton for the Arvon Foundation and now lives on Dartmoor, where he performs regularly and often enhances his readings with acapella songs.


He has five published collections, including A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and He|She (Itinerant Press, 2012).


Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet

in the same year. He co-organises separate monthly cabaret and open mic poetry and music sessions.


He makes a living as a journalist.







30 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


PUB: 22 APRIL 2016













This sequence of poems takes the form of short conversations between the poet and the artist, Marc Chagall. They cover aspects of both poetry and painting and of Chagall’s life in Belorussia and Paris, but are not intended in any way as academic discourses.


They are more like the kind of chit-chat you might have with a new acquaintance in a pub or café, trying to get to know each other and learn a bit about the other’s views.


* * * * *


"A witty and ingenious exchange between poet and artist on what words do and what paint achieves, Chagall’s surreal take on life is met equally by the poet’s musing on his own experiences. It is ‘a fair transaction’, a beautifully achieved conceit where ‘love is faster with a brush’ and incongruity provides immense entertainment."

Julie-ann Rowell


"These conversations between poet and painter are an absolute delight. Simon Williams’ love of science and of the art of Marc Chagall, combine to inspire wonderful, witty inventions injected with wry humour that are invariably clinched with memorable last lines."

Graham Burchell






















   Never been into café life, I said.


We sat outside, waiting for cups,


   The climate doesn’t encourage it

   and Scoriton is more shit than skinny latte.

   As a boy, I dived into the second layer,

   rather than take either of the coffee crèmes.


       You sell it short, said Marc, sipping his Americano.

       It’s not about the coffee, it’s the talk,

       where the ideas hiss to the top, are skimmed off.

       I would grab the flavour of a fresh canvas;

       Blez would swill the grounds into a poem.

       We made two cups last two hours,

       which is why they put us at the tables on the pavement.


       I see you have marshmallows floating in your chocolate.




The Poet Reclining

(after a painting by Marc Chagall)


Some years after the cow incident,

before the horse and sheep made pies

and mutton stews, he lay out in the pasture

practicing, as he had seen the great on tombs do.


Even when evening showered into mottled purple,

he was there, ballet pumps on slender feet,

louche black trousers up his elongated legs,

blue shirt reminding him of sky.


When the dew rose and the animals

stabled themselves,

he could feel his body rise,

pirouette the dawning stars.


Raising his Fedora to their whites and yellows,

he sneaked one into his jacket pocket.


CRW_4695 amend Williams