Poems by Brain Waltham
Masterclass is a collection in which music - whether the music of Bach and cicadas or that of cuckoos and Telemann - is a frequent point of reference. There is a sequence of poems set in France, where Waltham has a second home in Tarn et Garonne. There are elegies for Roy Fuller and violinist Ginette Neveu; poems set in hospitals and care homes; and poems about family. Elsewhere Waltham's subjects range from “mathematical hero” Mandelbrot to deaf and dumb people telling jokes in a pub.
Brian Waltham is a retired maritime lawyer whose first collection, Music for Brass (1990), received enthusiastic review notices:
’Waltham's sardonic, disenchanted sense of absurdity, of opportunities missed, of being in the right place at the wrong middle-aged time, is reminiscent of the later Louis MacNeice.’
John Mole, Encounter
’This is a poet whose pleasure in his craft is infectious. May appearing in print never make him solemn. He is like the after-dinner speaker to whose wisdom and sure-footedness one may confidently look forward. And there are not too many of those around.’
Roger Freebairn, Acumen
’Waltham is endlessly anthologisable, eminently quotable, interesting, inventive, and that rare thing in poetry - fun.’
Peter Finch, Poetry Wales
In the Pub
One of them tells it breakneck,
Left hand out, four fingers, three,
Fist up, thumb wagging, flash of palm
And bang into the right, two hands now,
Brushing, marrying, cutting loose,
Flicking at lip an chin, face alive
With the telling, ‘and you’ll never
Guess what happened next’.
His friend listens with his eyes,
Doesn’t miss a word, keeps the ball
In the air, forearm chop, nose-touch,
Hands in steeple, thumb across cheek,
’Get away, not really? You must be joking’.
And then the punch line,
A blur of hands and faces
And the two of them roar with
Utterly silent laughter.
Out here the two of us yell
Above the yell above the jukebox.
We need words that reach, but the
Words we need make no sense
Unless they’re said quietly
Or said by needful arms or
By a hand tracing the
Curve of a cheek.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: "Masterclass" © Elizabeth Stuart-Smith 1994. All Rights reserved DACS.
Publication: 1994 (64 pages laminated paperback)