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Tony Curtis - Considering Cassandra: Poems and a Story (Corgi Series: 7)

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Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • ISBN: 9780863817076
  • Author: Tony Curtis
  • Publication March 2003
  • Edited by Meic Stephens
  • Format: Paperback, 148x105 mm, 82 pages

A collection of the work of Tony Curtis comprising 27 diverse poems together with a short story reflecting his many-layered treatment of people and places, everyday subjects and military conflict, including short biographical notes.

Gwales Review
Tony Curtis's volume in this worthwhile and attractively packaged series contains twenty-one poems and a short story, 'H.M.S. Cassandra'. In his three-page introduction, Meic Stephens gives it as his opinion that Taken for Pearls (1993) and Heaven's Gate (2001) contain Curtis's 'most mature work'. This may strike as odd the reader who knows that Stephens's selection contains just two poems from the former and none from the latter. In fact, Curtis's earlier volumes – Album (1974), Preparations (1980) and Letting Go (1983) – provide two-thirds of the poems in this little book.

In his earlier work, Curtis was content to work chiefly within the bounds of his own experience. The virtues of his direct and unembroidered, but often vivid and sensuous style can be seen in 'Preparations', where a widow supervises other women in the preparation of a funeral repast against their menfolk's return:

It is a ham-bone big as a man's arm and the meat
Folds over richly from her knife. A daughter sits
Watching butter swim in its dish before the fire.

Later, Curtis would expand his horizons, addressing war and human suffering in a series of poems mostly in persona. Stephens prints four of the strongest of these: 'The last candles', 'Lessons', 'Soup' and 'Incident on a hospital train from Calcutta, 1944'.

In 'Poem for John Tripp', Curtis joins Tripp in attending a funeral in Lancashire. His story 'H.M.S. Cassandra' features a poet called Griffiths who seems to owe more than a little to Tripp. Curtis's poet-narrator recounts a reading with Griffiths which ends with Griffiths wangling the pair of them an invitation on board a British warship. Here, against the odds, the wily Griffiths triumphs against the odds by passing off a sea ballad by Charles Causley as his own. A resourceful and attractive story, it ends this selection on a high.

Richard Poole