Sunday 19 October 2014

About 'My Father's Wardrobe' The Saturday Poem in the Guardian

This Saturday my poem 'My Father's Wardrobe' from Fauverie was featured as The Saturday Poem in the Guardian. This poem grew from my admiration of Peter Redgrove's exuberant poem 'Wardrobe-Lady'. I wanted to write my own version of a person conjured through surreal clothes, to portray my elusive father who I only got to know in the last two years of his life.

My poem draws on scraps of information I managed to elicit from my father and from writings by my mentally ill mother about their brief lives together in Paris in the early 50s. It appears he was quite a playboy. After his death I found that one of the places he'd resided when he was older was the Argonautes Hotel in the rue de la Huchette, frequenting the jazz cellars there, and then in the Hotel Notre-Dame, overlooked by gargoyles. In his youth he'd boarded in a pension in St-Germain-des-Prés, where Django Reinhardt was a neighbour.

 "He wears a cathedral cloak with chimera eyes". The uni-horned goat chimera overlooking the quartier latin and Hotel Notre-Dame

 "A carousel turns silently between his knees / and in it a boy is singing on a lacquered foal". The century old hand-cranked carousel in the Champ de Mars.

 The devil chimera from Notre-Dame's south tower, overlooking his quartier

"One tie is an escalator, another a fountain / with Saint-Michel fighting Satan". My father was called Michel.