books

New books!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. Sorry about that. Or maybe it’s a good thing. Opinions may vary.

Anyhow, I have managed to publish a couple of new books since my last post. Quite how this happened, I don’t know.

In January, my new collection ‘Alexa, what is there to know about love? published. It’s my first proper collection since ‘You Took the Last Bus Home’. It contains a sequence of poems about love in its different varieties, as well as other, more mundane preoccupations. It looks like this …

And then a few weeks ago, I had a book of football poems for children published. It’s called ‘50 Ways to Score a Goal’. It’s bright green and looks like this …

Both are available through a bookshop near you – or indeed any of those online bookshops that you get nowadays.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and well!

A new online bookshop for the UK

A new online bookshop has launched today, in support of the UK’s independent bookshops. Do bear it mind when Christmas shopping.

I’ve created a page on the site, featuring my own titles plus a list of ten novels which make me laugh, and some of the favourite books Ive come across since following the excellent books podcast, Backlisted.

https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/brianbilston

This Bookshop Life

I’d buy everything from a bookshop if I could.
All my food would come from there.
Atwooden tables I would sit, eating Dahl,
Kipling Tartts or chocolate Baudelaires.
There’d be flat tortillas, focaccia and the rye:
it would be a literary-luncheoned life of pie,
all washed down with a glass of Carver
or a Swift half, if I’d rather.
 
I would make myself an Eco-friendly home:
go Greene and buy recycled tomes.
It Wodehouse a Self-portrait in the attic,
where no-one else could look at it,
and a looking-glass, of course, for the hall,
(amazing how I’ve not changed at all).
My house would Spark delighted looks;
I’d build a coffee table out of coffee table books.
 
I would also buy my clothes from there:
ragged trousers, experimental novel underwear,
dust jackets and striped pyjamas.
Boyd by the comments that I would Garner,
my days would pass quite Harper Lee,
this bookshop life, these books and me.
 

There’s a Supermarket Where the Library Once Stood

There’s a supermarket where the library once stood.
I sometimes forget that it’s now gone for good.
Last week I asked if they had any Flaubert.
A shrug in response. ‘The cheese counter’s there.’

There’s a supermarket where the library had been.
I’ve been reading some Dhal in ‘Indian cuisine’.
No golden tickets, witches or giants, of course;
just chickpeas and lentils in a creamy spiced sauce.

There’s a supermarket where the library once was.
I had tried to hand back an old Grapes of Wrath.
Sorry, they told me, but it’s really too late,
they’ll be shrivelled and well past their best-before-date.

There’s a supermarket where the library once stood.
A Sainsbury’s Local has bulldozed my childhood.
The library had been starved of state funding, I guess.
Take books off the menu and live well for less.

In Search Of Lost Tomes

I had forgotten that —
for a long time — I went to bed early,
seduced by Proust,
who so often had le mot juste
about affairs of the heart
and the nature of art,
and all that stuff.

But life and things passed,
gave way to armchaired collapse
in front of a screen,
scrolling through memes,
watching videos of cats.

Until one evening,
when retrieving the remote,
I found you again, on the shelf,
as if stumbling upon a swan’s nest
amongst the reeds, hidden,
your pages like fresh linen.

Written to commemorate the death of Marcel Proust, 18th November 1922.

Bookshopping

I would get everything
from a bookshop if I were able.
The food on my table

would come from there.
I would dine on tartts and flanns,
chocolate baudelaires,

lead a life of pi and dahl,
rice and flat tortillas,
accompanied by greenes.

They would all arrive
upon the scene
on gleaming sylvia platters. ​

The environment matters
so I would buy products
to suit eco-friendly homes,

like organic biographies,
and recycled tomes
with which to paper walls.

Wildely, I’d buy a painting
to hang in the attic or hall,
next to a looking-glass

(to admire my unchanging looks).
I’d build a coffee table
out of coffee table books.

I would buy my clothes there.
Dust jackets, ragged trousers,
experimental novel underwear.

But no, instead it’s the bore
of the supermarket, the mall,
the soulless online store

that try to take me in my prime
and leave me searching
for lost time.

But they can shelve
their plans for me.
I shall ignore all their displays.

I am piling up
these reference books
to make a bookshop barricade.

Beach Reading

Essential to any beach trip this summer
is Mouna Lellouche’s Obsidian Nights,
an exploration of the self and modernity,

and best consumed in its original Berber,
of course. She’s been gone a year now.
There’s no book that shouts ‘READ ME!’

louder than the waves which crash
upon the rocks than John Phillipston’s
fine new exploration of equine prostitution

in early modern theatre, ‘Tis Pity
She’s a Horse’
. I woke one morning
and she’d just cleared out. And, finally,

any time spent relaxing underneath that –
no note, nothing – Mediterranean sun
would be incomplete without the latest –

she’d only taken the little suitcase –
Oriana Malmoud, whose new book,
The Insubstantiality of Things, is a sustained critique

of consumer culture – pizza again tonight –
which, she argues, can only be combated
by a new set of moral imperatives.