On 19 October 2016 we welcomed over 60 friends and poetry-lovers to the launch of the most surprising outcome of Reading Sheffield – a series of stunning poems, inspired by Sheffield readers, from Eleanor Brown, the award-winning Bloodaxe poet. We thank the Off the Shelf Festival for their generous sponsorship and Sheffield Libraries for their hospitality.
Eleanor’s poems are a unique and highly persuasive way of honouring Sheffield readers’ experiences. We are delighted that they are to be published by Bloodaxe in 2018.
Married in 1948. I had
the most exquisite nightdress, sort of like
a Greek goddess, and dressing gown to match.
They were the loveliest things I’d ever owned.
During the weeks before the wedding I’d
unwrap them from their tissue paper, hold
them up against myself and slowly sway
a sideways figure-of-eight. Didn’t have
a full length looking glass and didn’t dare
steal to my parents’ room to look in theirs.
We went away on honeymoon, the boat
to France and then by train to Switzerland.
I hadn’t brought enough to read. A kind
lady lent me a silly magazine:
the actress Lana Turner, 28,
was married for the fourth time, her trousseau
reported to have cost ten thousand pounds.
I gazed out of the window doing sums,
how many pairs of stockings must she have?
how many nightdresses and dressing gowns?
My husband hadn’t long been back from war
and – sort of totally exhausted – so
he slept a lot, in the warm weather. Well,
and I was very bored. But luckily,
luckily in this little Swiss hotel
there were a few English books. I was so
pleased to have them. I’d have read anything
(always somebody worse off than you
in a Thomas Hardy). Nobody says,
pack enough books to last the honeymoon.
In memory of Jocelyn Wilson 1926-2015