”For Henry, having two countries meant staged risk, and privacy. For Oscar, having the world meant everything bet on the one toss. In a 20′s Modernist trope, this sequence hints at big unanalysed scandals by almost making them cockney rhyming slang. Evans-Bush shows us Two Great Late Victorians through the prism of the 1920s, even while she looks back 90 years at the Modernists, in a double manoeuvre.
In literary judgment we think about sex, but in our own lives we think about love. An equal attention to Henry James and Oscar Wilde at once can illuminate both. Henry remains, at this stage, Evans-Bush’s object of quiet love: touchstone to a vision of love that is the secret, and the secret joy of these poems.”
– Ira Lightman
1882: An Anti-Social Call in Washington
The inadvisable kiss of Walt Whitman
still on the lips of Oscar Wilde, the Atlantic
yawns, then closes its trap more close than ever.
The Master takes it upon himself to call
on Oscar, who celebrates himself, who sings himself.
He finds him at home, with a yellow handkerchief
and green knee-breeches. Alike, except for this, in stature
and – well – stature, the two writers
from a shared height take one another’s measure;
then with the small talk: nostalgia on the one hand
for London. The other: really? You care for places?
Dublin-made-Oxford drawls: The world is my home.
Oh, Henry. You who have so little home –
only your exquisitely understated
overcoat, your books, a thousand flimsy
cards for dinner, and a cabin ticket to Portsmouth –
not even a wife to offer as sop to the ladies –
ignore it, ignore it. He has no idea
what he’s just said. In a few years he will need you,
yes, you, to be human, and you will afford it
with the pronouncement: finally he has become interesting.
Next week, in next week’s kerchief, he’ll be regaling
next week’s ladies with news of your importance,
deceptively open as the Atlantic, with her little liners.
Katy’s limited edition pamphlet, Oscar & Henry, is now available from Rack Press: The Rack, Kinnerton, Presteigne, Powys LD8 2PF. All pamphlets are £4, postage free. Make cheques payable to “Rack Press”.
Order Oscar & Henry directly from Katy. She’ll send you a PayPal request. £5 covers postage (within the UK) and gets you a signed copy.
Order Oscar & Henry from Amazon.co.uk.
Or get your signed copy from Katy in person at a reading at the Lemon Monkey Café in London N16 on 13 February and at the Poetry Society in Betterton St WC2 on 20 February. Details of the Lemon Monkey Café reading below.
You are invited to Oscar Wilde night, a festival of modern-day Bunburying
A night of Gay Nineties debauchery in Stoke Newington! In poetry, drama, the green fairy and the green carnations, we bring you the spirit of Oscar Wilde and the fin de siècle ebullience that made him great. With a few damned modernists thrown in.
Featuring sets from John McCullough, Katy Evans-Bush and Tim Turnbull; poems by Oscar Wilde and Ernest Dowson; and a scene from David Secombe’s play, I Have Been Faithful to Thee, Ernest! In My Fashion, starring Tim Turnbull as Oscar Wilde. Also featuring Jack Tarlton and Chris Brand (possibly as Virginia Woolf.)
Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 18h30
Lemon Monkey Café
180 Stoke Newington High St
London, United Kingdom
Admission: free, but we ask for £3 in a hat.
By train: from Liverpool St (15 mins)
Two mins walk from Stoke Newington Station
By bus: 106, 276, 149, 67, 76, 243, 73, 476, 393
Follow Katy’s blog, Baroque in Hackney.