Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009








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Poems by John Levett


John Levett was born in 1950 and worked as a librarian. His poems have received awards and commendations at the Stroud and Cheltenham Festivals of Literature. In 1982 he was the recipient of the New Statesman’s Prudence Farmer Award. Skedaddle, John Levett’s second Peterloo volume, includes poems that were first published in The Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, Encounter, London Magazine, London Review of Books, Literary Review and other leading national journals. John Levett’s first volume, Changing Sides (1983) received the following review notices:

’an excellent first collection . . . vivid, humane and continuously suprising.’
John Mole, Encounter

Open John Levett’s book at any page and you are sure to find something to admire. He is a careful, assiduous writer, and his poems of domestic or occasional events are frequently redeemed from dullness by an accuracy of observation which flickers with visionary possibilities . . . a genuine poet.’
John Lucas, New Statesman

’John Levett is a formal versifier of unusual accomplishment . . . a talented poet.’
Steven Tuohy, PN Review

’a distinctive poetic personality in the making.’
Simon Rae, Times Literary Supplement



Ten miles above the tits at St. Tropez
A satellite’s remote, panoptic eye
Is tracking us and quietly waiting for
The gesture that could culminate in war;
You scratch your nose, I finish my ice-cream
And screw the silver paper in the sand.
Your milky skin is tanning like a dream.
That ultra-violet shadow is my hand.
The camera rolls on, its frozen lens
Picks out agriculture of the Fens
Then swaps the filters for the infra-red
Cupolas of beleaguered Leningrad.
You shift and turn, your shoulder-blade could be
The smooth lid on some high-tech armoury
And fear stirs in the craters that begin
To open on my weakly English chin.
White clouds wind like a turban round the peaks
That top the Himalayas and the sun.
Its compost of alchemical techniques
Transmutes the globe and lets us focus on
Calcutta pullulating with its poor,
The psychopaths that bleed El Salvador,
The human tides of Tokyo and then
The terrifying silence of Phnom Penh.

The earth speeds up, its shrunken polar caps
Like parachutes tumescently collapse,
The tilting coasts of snow give way to ice
Then bergs of light on Asian belts of rice.
At eight you plan to have the hotel fix
Your hair and come to meet me in the town,
Its chill and its salinity that pricks
And tightens up a skin that’s nicely brown:
Those stars we hope to drink beneath tonight
Are pledged to North America, that white
Deliberative brilliance even now
The obsolescent hardware of The Plough.


Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover photograph: Milky Way (Pleiades in Taurus) by courtesy of ZEFA, Düsseldorf. (Photo by Jack Novak).
Publication: SPRING 1987 (64 pages laminated paperback)