Wayne Holloway-Smith was born in Wiltshire in 1979. He recently received an MA (with Distinction) in Creative Writing from Brunel University, and is currently working on his debut novel, provisionally titled Big Time. Wayne’s poetry was featured in City State: New London Poetry (Pennned in the Margins, 2009) and Beloved, in case you’ve been wondering (Donut Press, 2011) is his first solo selection.
Rummaging through the pages of Beloved, in case you’ve been wondering, the reader encounters a young Groucho Marx, an aged Smith Wigglesworth, together with a host of other beguiling characters who try on aspects of themselves as masks, exploring the possibilities. Not least of these is the author himself. Whether employing the lyric, dramatic monologue, epistle or tall story forms, he always revels in the poem as performance, carefully balancing wit, heart and dizzying imagination, in a riveting, often comic, high wire act.
The back of her hand placates my cheek:
‘It’s just an act! Are you ok?’ Before I reply
she’s gone and the hostess announces
‘Miss … Coco … Lachaille!’
She enters, stage left, Charlestons clumsily.
A glut of men watches as she struts
a playful rubato, cha-cha kicks, twirls a parasol
like a walking stick, ’til oops! she stumbles
aesthetically, throws a candid glance, blows
bubbles with a slim black pipe. I try
to reconcile this with last night’s tendresse, but now
her hair is candyfloss pink, folded beneath
a feathered head dress. I stare at her painted face:
white, her blue-rimmed eyes, a single red line
tracing the length of her cheek. I’m fixed
on her lips as she flashes a smile, winks on a beat,
bends to reveal a glimpse of what they came for,
teases the crowd forward in their seats. Accelerando!
Now the swirls throw up her petticoat’s tulle tiers;
she spreads the polka-dot parasol, snaps it shut
on the splash of a cymbal. What applause!
Her velvet corset’s disappeared along with the pipe,
replaced by finger to lips, broderie anglaise
pantaloons. She spins and cocks her foot: Fin.
The parasol reopens, she drops into splits.
Cutting a Figure
Begin by losing yourself.
Burn your old clothes, your love notes.
Sit naked at your midnight window,
weighing the cadence of the age.
Become a flicker behind the blue smoke
of dive bars. Decipher conversations,
eavesdrop on topics that hold attention:
plot the growth of future trends.
Memorize turns of phrase
and adapt their use for other circles.
Survey the movement of masters;
scrutinize your artful ancestors –
Brummel, Langtry – trace and retrace
their images. Mimic the mannerisms
of success, as the apprentice does
before he attempts the autonomous stroke.
Etch an outline of your ideal.
Let it hold you accountable.
Feign authenticity, be well versed
in the art of telling a lie. Examine
the parameters of social acceptance;
be scandalous within. Allow yourself
to be held but not bridled.
Perhaps then you will be ready to emerge
in society, to court the light, to have
your features captured in photographs,
your exploits noted in memoirs
you’ll one day strike a match to.
from Beloved, in case you’ve been wondering (Donut Press, 2011).
Order Beloved, in case you’ve been wondering.
Order City State: New London Poetry
(Penned in the Margins, 2009).