Poems by Ann Drysdale
Ann Drysdale lives halfway up a mountain in South Wales, and describes herself as "poet and peasant". The peasant is already known for a series of idiosyncratic memoirs: Faint Heart Never Kissed a Pig, Sows' Ears and Silk Purses, Pearls Before Swine and A Pig in a Passage and was also for many years a weekly columnist for Yorkshire Post Newspapers. She is the current holder of the Dylan Thomas Prize for poetry in performance and major prizewinner in the 2001 National Poetry Competition. Her previous volumes of poetry, The Turn of the Cucumber (1995) and Gay Science (1999) both from Peterloo Poets, were widely acclaimed:
“In The Turn of the Cucumber Peterloo has introduced us to someone who writes with skill and assurance, so that her poems immediately communicate and amuse, delight, move, or appeal to deep emotion... she also can be truly and unboastfully funny . . .”
Brian Merrikin Hill, Outposts
“Ann Drysdale's poetry is a field in which wit, literacy, intelligence and humanity play a straight bat against the bodyline bowling of a well-observed mortality. At its most relaxed it indulges a crafty whimsicality that invites comparison with Hilaire Belloc, Dorothy Parker and Stevie Smith but in times of stress (and Drysdale is no escapist) a sterner discipline comes into play and reveals her to be more properly set in the line of Hardy, Graves and Auden. Her effect is spectacular. The oddball lady ... who can reach into the dark hearts of dogs and the birth-canals of ewes, realigns her skittish humour in the function of defence and guns down bureaucracy, the trivial cruelties of petty tyrants and the senseless obscenities of sickness and death... Besides this, she is a stunning technician.”
Jeff Nuttall (on Gay Science)
“Gay Science is really good, full of surprises, such wit and such tenderness too.”
“Ann Drysdale has a way of adding wit to form that turns the poem on the page from a squib into an arc welder. Don't underestimate her apparent smooth urbanity. This is the work of a real upsetter.”
Peter Finch (on Backwork)
The Only Road There Is
When the midwife slaps our arses and initiates our clocks,
She starts us on our journey from the hard place to the rocks
And off we go like billy-oh, our little legs a blur,
Until we reach the finish and we’re back to where we were.
It’s a really rotten swindle, it’s a monumental chizz;
We can’t believe it’s happening although we know it is.
We are on the road to nowhere, we are riding for a fall,
We are dying, Egypt, dying. O God! O Montreal!
We start by asking questions in the flowering of our youth
And try disguising ancient lies as universal truth.
We look at things in mirrors and we practise to deceive
And since we’re only human and we’re eager to believe
That we deserve a better way than all before have trod,
We go in search of holy men to broker deals with God.
We do the things they tell us in a wild desire to please;
We read the words that comfort us as though they’re recipes
And serve up variations in an individual size,
Like “Rosebud”, “Bugger Bognor” and “Bellamy’s veal pies”.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: Beryl Cook, 'Ullo Chéri, from Private View (John Murray Ltd., 1980)
©Beryl Cook 1980. (Reproduced by arrangement with the artist c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN)
Publication: SPRING 2001 (87 pages laminated paperback)