On Thursday night I attended the launch of a small book, The Heart Archives, by Sue Rose (a poet with a published collection to her name and another due later this year). Sue has photographed things meaningful to her and accompanied them with a series of sonnets, many relating to her own family. The poems have a sweet rhythm and a deep undertow, with mortality lurking in the background. Each is titled with a number in reference to the heartbeats recorded by Christian Boltanski and played continuously for his installation, Les Archives du Coeur. Sue’s book is one of two published by Hercules Editions (http://herculeseditions.wordpress.com), a press that came about to fill a need – the combination of photos and poetry.
The other book, Formerly, records disappearing London in photos by Vici MacDonald and poetry by Tamar Yoseloff. If you have ever wandered those streets of the city that have lost favour or are due for ‘redevelopment’, you will recognise in the photos the traces of the people who once lived and thrived here. The poems are sharp, bright, funny and heartbreaking. I love the verbal high jinks within them and the way they capture the flavour of what has now disappeared (http://formerlysonnets.wordpress.com).
One poem and photo, The Rose, took me back to my time as a struggling sculptor when my flatmate and I rented two bedrooms and a studio in The Rose and Crown in Deptford (long since demolished). The Studio was in the old strip bar (complete with appropriate murals). One of our bedrooms had to be given up to the Great Dane (who lived there too) to occupy with her puppies. I remember one day being told to stay away from the bar for a few days as Mick would be out (of prison) tonight. The barman then hid the rifle that used to hang above the bar. Exciting times!