Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…

Deborah Tyler-Bennett by Francis O'Donnell Smith

Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s current collection is Pavilion (Smokestack, 2010), set in Brighton, her first was Clark Gable in Mansfield (King’s England, 2003), selected poems are in Take Five (Shoestring, 2003), and a new collection, Revudeville, has been published by King’s England. First poems from Anglo-Punk (sonnet sequences on Regency dandy Beau Brummell) have been published. Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…, a chapbook collection of three portraits in poems is published by Nine Arches Press. Many of Deborah’s poems are influenced by vintage fashion which she collects and wears.

“Deborah Tyler-Bennett draws together three memorable and inimitable portraits of notable (if not always noted) lives in Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…. The resulting poems, bristling with Tyler-Bennett’s subtle and laconic style, go beyond renderings of lives past, anecdotes told, and look instead to explore the gaps in the biographies, the real people behind the characters.”
“With an eye out for the singular, the wayward, the eccentric and, at times, the downright mad, Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s poetry portraits channel three very different lives and histories, whilst seeking out the faint echoes of these lives in the present. From the bear-riding Mango ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton’s attempts to cure hiccups by means of self-immolation, to balladeer Jimmy Dyer’s lonely wanderings with his fiddle, to poignant glimpses of her great grandfather Billy Gibson’s old age, these are poems that get to the essential solitude of human existence as they trace the lines of their subjects’ strange passions.”
– Will Buckingham
Death of the Popular English Print
No more ‘Mytton Rides a Bear’,
‘To Hounds’, ‘On Fire’
(mad cure for hiccups),
frames fit only for the byre.
Annals listing bad behaviour
(and extreme) deny entry
to vanquished squirearchy.
Chilled, standing sentry
those who dreaded invites,
Parson wibbling on –
something about sins cleansed,
carved heaven won.
Print-maker’s lament,
subject dust-bound,
shunned visitors received,
now cold in ground.
No more ‘Mytton Set Alight’,
‘With Hounds’ … New gloom
consigns rich racing prints fit
only for a Bawd’s scant room.
Telling the Bees for Jimmy Dyer
Carlisle Market hosts midnight concert.
Jimmy Dyer’s ghost, ballad singer fiddling below blea stars.
Only drunken stragglers to hear …
Cabbies waiting on night’s last fare
think strings daggy hill-blown winds.
Passing strays rub through his legs.
Were rushes laid?
Hive receiving funeral crumbs?
Song travelling corpse roads, fingers cupped
round the bowl, brawny as bee-bread.
Where does he go come daylight, as shoppers bree
through Tesco? Where does he play in sunlight?
Maybe hills replenish his pack, strings
plucking local names for flora:
Oxeye, Ellers, Dead Tongue, Horse Knap … Vagabond’s Friend
his favourite. Crumbled notes
perfecting, telling the bees
how it was, how it always is.
Blea, Bree: Old Cumbrian words for blue, and bustle, or hurry.
At the Mortal Man Inn
In the snug, slotted tight as bee bole,
          face deepening the fire house.
          Fiddle-bow slings hail
          on honeyed floors.
Replacing fiddle, terrors begin.
          Sings of the Bargest, raging hairy way
          off fells, eyes sputtering coals,
          no path left but to it.
Ballads soft, always a catch,
          faery women on cross-roads,
          coaxing travellers to open-
          mouthed mounds.
Unaccompanied voice – glance behind, or
          October’s cold snap, boulders
          mistook for elf-
          shot warriors.
Superstitions roar hearth and chimney,
          stain, flaking soot:
          Cover mirrors when a wake begins;
          keep the Skep informed and happy;
don’t forget to greet the Magpie,
          ask after his wife, don’t bring hawthorn in;
          or annoy the Hobthrush;
          and don’t, and don’t, and don’t …
Sups between verses,
          conversation hive bound,
          fiddle sleeping, hands
          raging mad for music.
Deep within The Mortal Man,
          heart’s buzzing fire house,
          takes the fiddle up again.
          Paddling yards, rain’s solitary Bargest.
Bee bole: space for bees in a dry-stone-wall / Skeps: straw spaces in bee boles to shelter bees from the North wind / Bargest: wolf-like Cumbrian spirit foretelling death / Hobthrush: hob spirit / Fire House: main room
Floyd on Exiting
I.M.: Keith Floyd, 1943 – 2009 / William Gibson, 1884 – 1955
When Keith Floyd died,
tabloid story: CHEF’S FINAL FEAST
(partridge, cocktails, full-blown wine)
reminded Mum of Billy Gibson’s partied going
(bitter, dessert cake, marinated song)
at Sutton Lib Club’s Pensioners’ Christmas Night.
Billy poling up come dawn’s glazed light, trilby tight-
balanced at crown’s back, wrong
scarf … Piquantly ‘worse for wear’,
boasting booze too much, food too much,
‘fantastic times’ tasted. Such
swanning served later by friends, their
glacé eyes. He’d sung: ‘Let him go, let him tarry,
let him sink, let him swim’.
‘Suffer tomorrow’, Daughter grinned
at forced defiance. ‘Your head’ll be
that old chestnut: THE DRUNKARD’S CURSE’.
Mates re-heated Billy’s refused
seat downstairs, he’d felt abused,
well-meaning, asked: ‘Able-bodied?’ Boozing
upstairs, dying-up to ‘Showman’ nick-name,
ballad’s flambéd flame.
Gone in bed, no bruising
hang-over, cure un-needed.
Now, Floyd’s obituary note,
mean-spirited rival gloats
of days mis-lived. Still, something to be said
for tables left post- savoured food and drink,
hung-over insecurities dwindled (think
reducing stock). Obits gut and joint the dead,
no cognac after-glow …
Fabled feasts feed hungry ghosts, allow
my unrepentant Angel’s chorus: ‘Let him tarry, let him go.’
from Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…
(Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Order Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson….
Read more of Deborah’s work at poetry p f.
Order Pavilion (Smokestack Books, 2010).
Order Clark Gable in Mansfield (King’s England Press, 2003).
Order Revudeville (King’s England Press, 2011).

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