Poems by William Scammell
William Scammell’s first book of poems, Yes and No, received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors, and established his reputation as one of the liveliest and most readable poets of his generation. His next two volumes, A Second Life and Jouissance, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, were widely praised by reviewers:
‘He has a marvellous longish poem called ‘Metamorphosis’ that reads like a slice of Byron’s Don Juan . . . Lots of bang and no whimper.’
Robin Bell, Spectator
‘Scammell passes two crucial tests: he can make memorable lines . . . that alter your perceptions, and his poems usually end well – the clinching, shaping spirit.’
Alexis Lykiard, South West Review
‘he makes all . . . subjects matter for celebration. The richly physical language seems to embrace the attitudes, so that even when he is writing to satirize or put an experience in perspective, there is never the sense of mean-spirited rejection . . . I share with others the admiration for the Peterloo Poets’ imprint, particularly the way they can put the fashionable to shame and produce winners from unlikely stables. With A Second Life it’s been done again.’
Brian Jones, London Magazine
‘an immensely enjoyable collection . . . Scammell is the luck any small publisher deserves, and I hope Jouissance sells out again and again.’
John Lucas, New Statesman
‘There are poems in Jouissance I shall be reading again and again.’
In this new collection Scammell deepens and extends his range, moving easily between free verse and the strict forms for which he is already well known. Whether writing of his recent travels in America, or exploring the pleasures and pains of youth in the long title poem, set in the West Indies, or casting a quizzical, approving eye over the marvels of the daily round (music, trees, alternative medicine, haircuts, uncles, a restless wife, a peaceful lake . . .), or brilliantly Englishing a variety of French poems, he never fails to interest, amuse, and enlighten.
William Scammell has worked as a lecturer in English, working in the field of adult education, and has been a regular contributor to the TLS, London Magazine, Poetry Review, Spectator and other journals. His critical study of Keith Douglas has been published by Faber.
Imagine a thousand giant horseshoes
riveted together for good luck.
Imagine the decks stacked up like an in-tray,
the infant-class-drawing funnels
followed to the inch, the ton, sloping
back their ears and ready for the off.
Something is shaking the thing awake
under your feet and you race up on deck
where the wind off the Solent
flattens one side of you like a plank.
The handrail warps and judders; at a blast
of the last trump the whole ship
thinks itself into a greyhound tremble
and dreams away from the quay,
scouring a giant glass for seagulls
to scream in. The horizon turns slowly
round and proceeds to forget you
like relatives going home after a visit.
You have landed in luxury’s hard lap.
Your wake stretches from here to nowhere.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover painting: ‘Dreaming’ by Jackie Scammell.
Publication: AUGUST 1987 (71 pages laminated paperback)