Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009




LASKEY, Michael

Thinking of Happiness



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Poems by Michael Laskey


Michael Laskey was born in 1944, read English at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and subsequently taught for ten years at various schools and colleges in Spain and England. From 1978 he lived in Suffolk where he was co-ordinator of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. His short collection, Cloves of Garlic, was one of the two winners of the 1988 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and was published by Smith Doorstep in 1989.

Thinking of Happiness is a humane and witty first full collection. It opens with ‘Stills’, fifteen four-line snapshots of school life:

  At the afternoon’s darkest point
  a boy starts to feel, to work
  his way to a thought. Oblivious
  of us and that look on his face.

Then follows ‘A Curse on the Editors of Poetry Review’, a 47-line comic bludgeoning to death with the blunt instrument of only one rhyme:

  And may your dreams be shifting floors
  of manuscripts with massive claws
  and raw brains dangling from their jaws . . .

The collection also includes a number of sharp and tender domestic poems and several haunting poems about fishermen and fishing, including ‘On the Roderigo (H135) lost with all hands in 1955’, that was first published in The Times Literary Supplement. Poems within this collection have also appeared in Encounter, London Magazine, Poetry Durham, Poetry Review, The Rialto, Stand and other leading magazines. Nine of the poems were represented in Peterloo Preview 2 (Autumn 1990).


Life After Death

After he died he went on speaking
on the ansaphone: he’d apologise
for being out and ask us to leave
our names and messages after the tone.

At first we couldn’t, we just hung up,
but steeled ourselves: it was her grief,
her tape that she was perfectly free
not to choose to erase in those early days.

At last though the voice did change to hers
and we were consoled, we found we could breathe
our nonsense into her solemn machine
once more and pictured her smiling, unwinding.

Later we raised it – macabre was the word
we used – and she laughed, told us the truth
was tougher, more matter of fact than that:
just not knowing how to record herself.


Price 7.95 per copy post free (5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: ‘The Beach, Southwold’ by Margaret Green.
Publication: AUTUMN 1991 (64 pages laminated paperback)