'One of the most important British poetry books of the last twenty years'

Recital

'Recital is the most astonishing and mature work of his career to date.'

Dr Claire Chambers - BA (Hons), MA, PhD

 

‘As John Siddique reminds us in his extraordinary new collection, life unfolds whether or not we choose to participate in the “future histories” being created at every moment. The poems in this book form a literary chronograph for survival, echoing life’s ticking clock while inviting us to stop and observe the moments before they pass.

 

'The book’s two related purposes are conveyed in its title. As a recital, these poems masterfully name and celebrate the glorious panorama of intimate yet communal subjects and objects that infuse experience with meaning—a classic role for poetry rendered utterly new in these pages.  As an almanac, the poems meticulously catalogue relationships, events, natural phenomena and experiences into measured moments. In this irreplaceable collection, John Siddique creates a time-line for evaporating memories, observations and sensations, and reveals life’s potential to be a hidden gallery...Recital is one of the most important British poetry books of the last twenty years’

Professor Lauri Ramey, California State University at Los Angeles

'Mythology and spirituality run through John Siddique's fourth poetry collection, Recital: An Almanac, which revolves around the lunar calendar. The collection contains thirteen poems marking the passing of each month and celebrating nature and the rhythms of life against war and violence. There is a beautifully balanced, tight piece of writing at the heart of the book: the haunting sequence "Inside". Consisting of four poems about London's 7/7 bombings, it describes the almost unreal moments on the bus, before and after the explosions, explores the mind of a suicide bomber, and leads up to the erroneous police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.'

Muneeza Shamsie, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature

 

‘John Siddique is an accomplished writer across several genres, but his fourth collection of poetry 'Recital: an Almanac' demonstrates his considerable range within this form has not lessened. Politically alert, he is also a gifted and adventurous love-poet bringing the Japanese art of bondage, Shibari, into Erato's northern court for surely the first time; an excellent nature poet, he writes equally well of childhood, friendship and loss. His work shows an international awareness enriched by an Islamic-Catholic heritage, which must account to some extent for the humour that sparkles through this marvellous book. Anyone interested in the fascinating cross-fertilisation of poetries now revitalising the literature of these islands must read it.’

Ian Duhig – Author of ‘The Lammas Hireling’

'It’s no surprise that Siddique is a bestselling poet. If ‘Recital’ is anything to go by in this regard, his poetry is hugely appealing precisely because it is unflinching, clear, soulful and utterly compelling.' - Dzifa Benson in Tears In The Fence Magazine

 

‘On love, loss and hope, these poems are imbued with a beautiful, tender melancholia'.   

Bernadine Evaristo – Author of ‘Blonde Roots’

 

 

'Recital' - A Major Review

Recital is discussed as a national text by Dr Claire Chambers


 

Please find a poem from 'Recital' in Spanish over at Cicloliterario magazine.

YOU'VE GOT TO GET IN TO GET OUT

 

The world will impinge into your need

for silence, into your prayers. In the hardest seconds

of your life, your neighbours will be drunk,

booming hip-hop through thin inconvenient walls.

At the lighting of your candles, in the moment

you need to focus — the apex of your flame,

the voice of the Holy Spirit, someone

will be vacuuming, talking, ringing up change,

a bin wagon bleeping as it reverses, builders

swearing into the distance you put by pulling into

yourself. It sounds like they are calling your name.

 

INSIDE # 2

“There is no more time”

 

9.47, the peak of the morning rush is

beginning to subside, though the tube is

closed so he’s taking the bus to work.

A woman at the front of the bus is

on her way to her course. There is

a girl on her way to the dentist, and

a cleaner on her way home. A bus full

of people like this and more.

 

Then there is no more time, just a flash.

No time for fear. Here then gone, or

unconscious, or at the edge, or screaming.

All fixed in their own heads a moment ago,

busy being late for things, tired, looking forward

to a cup of tea, or just getting there

to get out of this traffic.

 

9.47 lasts forever and ticks on for the rest of us.

Before and after the application of words. Divide

the hour, divide the minute, sub-divide the second,

keep on dividing and time ceases to exist.

 

 

 

OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN

 

He is eight and good at football. His mind

flits blacker and whiter than a magpie

from playstation to plastic sword, chocolate,

internet, to nothing to do, to slamming the ball.

He has a will of iron. Can bend his mother’s

and my love for him like plasticine;

when he wears his stick-on tattoos

in the same place on his shoulders as I have mine,

when he calls me ‘old chappy,’ as we scream

through the air as human aeroplanes.

I want so much to show him the world

I know, make it right for him.

Their Dad shows up every now and then,

it blows this family sideways, the guy ropes

twang off their pegs, until morning comes

and the wind dies down, and he goes off again.

I begin planting and parenting. Applying constancy

at the thin end of myself. But here is the boy

on a Saturday morning, next to me in bed,

hugging his mother and I together,

blowing at my chest hair.

 

All poems © John Siddique 2009