Simon Perril: ‘Studio Poem’ – An Unpublished Poem by John James and a poem for John by Simon Perril

This previously unpublished poem was given to Simon by the artist Peter Cartwright at John James’ funeral:


To read the poem, click here: Studio Poem by John James



A Poem by Simon Perril


always and never been

i.m. John James


John, in the epistolary moment

of the perpetually unsent,

I headache today

slipping between the always and never been


as an unusual was

– my dripping, viral self

high on Reckoning with the Dead,

on an outsized Rutland bed –

ways us towards evening,

day’s climbdown,

an act of brinkmanship.


So, let’s roll with it

out to shape, seascaped

on the outer-rim of circles and cycles

unfit for Dante –

what city isn’t unreal

in the consequences it bites

into residents’ dreaming flesh,

official and unofficial issue.


I own so little thought

and shan’t resort to pilfering Hölderlin

when, tilted out of sorts,

I play the ear’s organ

flapping at the side of my head

like a sail.


Simon Perril’s poetry publications include The Slip (Shearsman 2020), In the Final Year of My 40s (Shearsman 2018), Beneath(Shearsman 2015), and Archilochus on the Moon (Shearsman 2013). He appears in magazines such as PN Review, Long Poem Magazine, Jacket, Tears in the Fence, Fortnightly Review, and Blackbox Manifold. As a critic I has written widely on contemporary poetry, editing the books The Salt Companion to John James, and Tending the Vortex: The Works of Brian Catling, and contributing many articles and book chapters on poets such as Sean Bonney, Andrea Brady, Tom Raworth, Geraldine Monk, Peter Riley, J.H. Prynne and John Tranter.


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