Though born and raised in New York, Sue Guiney has lived in London for twenty years where she writes and teaches fiction, poetry and plays. Her work has appeared in important literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and her first book, published by Bluechrome Publishing in 2006, is the text of her poetry play, Dreams of May. Her first novel, Tangled Roots, was published in May 2008, also by Bluechrome. Her second novel, A Clash of Innocents, was chosen to be the first publication of the new imprint Ward Wood Publishing and was published in September 2010. Sue is also Artistic Director of the theatre arts charity which she founded in 2005 called CurvingRoad.
Maiden, woman, crone – three traditional stages in the female lifespan. In Sue Guiney’s Her Life Collected (Ward Wood Publishing, 2011), these stages are re-envisioned for a modern time, examining through poetry the feminine response to love, betrayal, motherhood, art, loss and gain as it changes throughout the decades of an imagined life.
“Sue Guiney’s poems evoke scenes from an Audrey Hepburn movie, an American teen movie, and a movie based on a novel by Anita Brookner. In bright images and scenarios she presents us with a life fully observed in the passage of time, unsparingly honest and very engaging.”
– Katy Evans-Bush
Run, he said. So she walked
to the platform from the car where he sat,
She missed the train. The next one, too,
but only because the phone wouldn’t work,
its dial tone dead, coins unloaded. She had tried
too hard to make that bloody call, so instead she waited,
She felt a chill, and cinched in her coat
like Ingrid Bergman
standing in a desolate Berlin winter,
the army at her back, running scared
but waiting for a train she knew would never come,
shadowed against the night,
American Portraiture or
If Art Imitates Life
Then Who Are These People?
A twenty-year-old and his teenage girlfriend
sneak into the bathroom of a roadside Texaco
for a quick and messy fuck.
Apron strings flying, a woman runs
to gather all the clothes off the line
before the dust storm whips up.
A solitary driver in a speeding Ford Mustang
sings Me and Bobby McGee,
scrapes away dusty tears.
A girl, her hair dyed blonde then red,
nods behind a register, ringing
three bags of corn chips, a six-pack of root beer, a carton
of Marlboros and some Cheese Whizz.
A woman, skirt hiked up above her knee, sits
in a darkened bar. She faces a line of tequila shots;
broken neon letters flash at her back.
In the alley behind some down-beat jazz club
a sax player’s hands hold a bottle of Bud
and a woman
who must never be me.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature
is 1,452 pages long.
The paper is onionskin.
The typeface small and serious.
One summer between day-camp carpools,
roadtrips to the beach and evenings at the drive-in,
she started at the absolute end
and worked her way quietly towards the front.
She forgave herself for bolting
through Gerard Manley Hopkins
and lingering too long with Blake and Byron,
because for two months that year she drowned herself
in a monsoon of words.
She got as far as Il Penseroso
when it came time for Back-to-School.
And though, come September, she still couldn’t quote Yeats
or distinguish between Tess and Jude,
she remembered who she was and why she must climb
cautiously, insistently, towards the shoulders of giants.
The Honesty Bar
There was an honesty bar
in the little hotel
at the back of the Place des Vosges –
Take what you want, sign your name.
The offerings were tantalizing:
two bottles of wine, three kinds of whisky,
liqueurs I didn’t recognize.
But I wanted Pernod.
I honestly wanted to sit with a glass
smelling of liquorice,
pour water and watch the world become a cloud.
To be really honest I wanted absinthe,
whatever that is – illegal, I think –
maybe liquid opium,
the drink destitute Parisian writers shared
with bohemian women, a drink
to be afraid of, to speak French to
in a cloud of smoke.
I wanted to walk into La Place at night,
a little the worse for wear,
hear footfalls of horses on cobbled streets,
see shadows of lovers beneath distant lamplights,
be the shadow of a lover beneath a distant lamplight,
wear a turban
and a slit up the side of my dress,
fishnet stockings and heels like poison-tipped arrows,
sip absinthe in a surreal haze
and be lost within a romantic age.
from Her Life Collected (Ward Wood Publishing, 2011).
Order Her Life Collected.
Visit Sue’s website and blog.
When: Tuesday, 15 February 2011
What Time: 6.30 pm for 7 pm until about 9.00 pm
Where: Lumen Centre 88 Tavistock Place London WC1
(near Russell Square; nearest tube King’s Cross or Euston Road)
An entry fee of £5/£4 will go to support the Cold Weather Shelters.
Refreshments will be available.