The man who is angry with a unicorn
is a dolt and a clodhopper.
— from Proverbs of the Unicorn
Sue Boyle lives in Bath where she organises the Bath Poetry Cafe and the associated Cafe Workshops and Cafe Writing Days. Her work has been published by The Rialto, Acumen, Magma, Poetry Salzburg and The Interpreter's House.
Her poem 'A Leisure Centre is Also a Temple of Learning' was chosen for the Forward Prize Anthology 2009, and her collection Too Late for the Love Hotel was a winner in the 2009 Book & Pamphlet Competition (judged by Andrew Motion).
'The title [Unregarded Lives*] proposes an idea of modesty – which is certainly present in the humble attentiveness these poems pay to their subjects, but is also belied by the range and strangeness of the book’s interests.' — Andrew Motion
*Original title of 'Too Late for the Love Hotel'
A LEISURE CENTRE IS ALSO A TEMPLE OF LEARNING
The honey-coloured girl in the women’s changing room
is absorbed in making her body more beautiful:
she has flexed and toned every muscle with a morning swim
and showered away the pool chemicals
using an aromatic scrub and a gentle exfoliant.
She has perfect bone structure: her secret cleft
is shaved as neatly as a charlatan’s moustache.
In dreamy abstractedness she moisturises
then spray perfumes every part that might be loved –
tipped throat, underchin, the little kisspoints
below her ears,the nuzzle between her breasts,
her willow thighs.
A bee could sip her.
She is summer cream slipped over raspberries
and so much younger than the rest of us.
She should look around.
We twelve are the chorus:
we know what happens next.
Sue on her work
Being able to write isn't just about learning the craft – you also have to believe you have something to write about. As a teenager I was absolutely certain that in the mythical time 'when I grow up' I would be a writer. But I have had to make a forty year journey which included driving a thousand miles a month in search of resellable secondhand goods and framing more than two thousand pictures before I felt that I had anything to say.
My favourite poets/poems are the ones whose cadences are so compelling that it is difficult to read them aloud ( even the joyful ones ) without feeling choked by a kind of grief. Michael Longley. His gentle towering presence. Yeats. All that heart-stopping music despite the crazy metaphysics and the awkward politics. The creaturely poems of Ted Hughes. I don't feel these are influences on my poems because my poems can't reach those places. I just sit in silence at their feet.
I am currently working on a collection of poems about travelling, transience, the aspirations and horrors of empire, horses, history, the randomness of good and bad fortune and not being able to get a good night's sleep in Trastevere. The title poem 'Wintering in Rome' and another, 'Safe Passage', are appearing in Acumen in May. Visiting Rome made being a European make sense to me for the first time – like buying a theatre ticket and discovering that instead of being in the audience you were actually in the cast of a deeply shocking play. So many ruthless cultures, traditions, powers fighting for dominance in that one small place. So many centuries of ostentatious and apparently indifferent wealth. So much glamour and beauty. So many victims of it all. The poems in 'Wintering' are trying to find some of the voices to speak for that.