Archive for November, 2008

In Praise of Jeremy Reed

November 30, 2008


Jeremy Reed is one of the UK’s most prolific and skilful poets, yet he remains unknown to a great many readers. For some reason, Jeremy Reed’s work is often overlooked or ignored in favour of the work of far less talented writers.

Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed has written a vast number of poetry collections, novels, short stories and non-fiction works. His music biographies include studies of Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Brian Jones and Marc Almond. His literary biographies include studies of Rimbaud, Genet and Anna Kaven, amongst others.



He is a translator of great subtlety and versatility. He has translated key texts by Novalis; Rimbaud; Bogary; Genet; Cocteau; Montale – to name only a few.


Reed’s poetry is some of the most beautiful and insightful poetry ever written, particularly the collections: Patron Saint of Eyeliner; Red-Haired Android; Kicks; Voodoo Excess, West End Survival Kit, and This Is How You Disappear.


If you are unfamiliar with Jeremy Reed’s poetry, then start with a copy of Kicks or Patron Saint of Eyeliner.



If you want to start with his fiction, then try reading his novel Diamond Nebula, or even Dorian, his sequel (of sorts) to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey.



If you prefer non-fiction, then A Stranger on Earth – The Life and Work of Anna Kavan is a good place to start, as is Lou Reed: Waiting For the Man. Also worth looking at is Another Tear Falls – A Biography of Scott Walker; Born To Lose – A Biography of Jean Genet; and Delirium – An Interpretation of Arthur Rimbaud.



Here is a partial bibliography:


The Lipstick Boys

Blue Rock

Red Eclipse

Inhabiting Shadows

Isidore (a novel about Lautréamont)

Red Hot Lipstick (erotic stories)

When the Whip Comes Down (a novel about De Sade)

The Pleasure Chateau (an erotic trilogy)

Chasing Black Rainbows (a novel about Artaud)

Diamond Nebula

Dorian (a sequel to The Picture of Dorian Grey)

Boy Caesar

The Grid

Here Comes the Nice




A Long Shot to Heaven

The Isthmus of Samuel Greenberg (1976)

Saints & Psychotics

Bleecker Street (1980)

A Man Afraid

By the Fisheries (1984)

Nero (1985)

Selected Poems (1987)

Engaging Form (1988)

Nineties (1990)

Brigitte’s Blue Heart

Claudia Schiffer’s Red Shoes

Turkish Delight

Red Haired Android (1992)

Kicks (1994)

Sweet Sister Lyric (1996) 

Saint Billie (2000)

Black Sugar

Patron Saint of Eyeliner (2000)

Dicing For Pearls

Heartbreak Hotel (2002)

Duck and Sally Inside (2006)

Orange Sunshine (2006)

This is How You Disappear (2007)

Bona Drag (2009)

West End Survival Kit (2009)

Black Russian: Out-Takes 1978-9 (2010)

Piccadilly Bongo (2010)

Bona Vada (2011)

Whitehall Jackals (with Chris McCabe) (2013)

Nothing But a Star (2013)

The Glamour Poet Versus Francis Bacon (2014)

Sooner or Later Frank (2015)

Voodoo Excess (Rolling with the Stones) (2015)

Red Light Blues (2016)

jr ve rjd


The Coastguard’s House (Eugenio Montale)

Tempest of Stars (Jean Cocteau)

The Complete Poems (Jean Genet)

Praries of Fever (Ibrahim Nasrallah)

All That’s Left to You (Ghassan Kanafani)

On Entering the Sea (Nizar Qabbani)

The Sheltered Quarter (Hamza Bogary)

Hymn to the Night (Novalis)



Heart on my Sleeve

Madness: The Price of Poetry

Angels, Divas and Blacklisted Heroes

Caligula – Divine Carnage (with Stephen Barber)

Dead Brides (Edgar Allan Poe) – Introduction 

Through the Looking-Glass (Lewis Carroll) – Introduction

The Songs of Maldoror (Lautreamont) – Postscript

Lipstick, Sex and Poetry (autobiography)

Bitter Blue (autobiography)

4 Poets & A Play (John Ashbery, Thom Gunn, John Weiners, Francis Bacon) (2012)

The Dilly – A History of Piccadilly Rent Boys (2014) 





Pop Stars (1995) – with Mick Rock

Big Orange Day (2010) – with Lisa Wilkerson

Exploding into Colour (2012) – with Lisa Wilkerson



The Last Star (Marc Almond

Another Tear Falls (Scott Walker)

Waiting For the Man (Lou Reed)

The Last Decadent (Brian Jones)

Born to Lose (Jean Genet)

Delirium (Arthur Rimbaud)

A Stranger on Earth (Anna Kavan)

The King of Carnaby Street (John Stephen)



Jeremy Reed collaborates with musician/dj/electronica maestro Itchy Ear on a performance poetry/music/spoken word project called The Ginger Light.



The Ginger Light’s youtube channel is:

And here’s a fantastic promotional film of The Ginger Light in action – putting the fire back into poetry readings:


And here’s a link to The Ginger Light’s debut CD, Big City Dilemma, released by Cherry Red Records:

I would recommend listening to The Ginger Light or reading one of the above books. Jeremy Reed is a unique voice in literature. His work seems to be a fusion of the decadent, the erotic and the surreal. He is definitely worth reading.


Jeremy Reed’s website is:


In Praise of Jeremy Reed

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

Photo of Jeremy Reed by John Robinson




In Memory of Guy Peellaert (April 6, 1934 – November 17, 2008)

November 19, 2008

Guy Peellaert was a Belgian artist, painter, illustrator, comic strip artist and photographer.


Guy Peellaert

Guy Peellaert

Peellaert was probably most famous for his album covers for rock artists. He designed the album cover for Ėtienne Daho’s Pour nos vies martiennes.


He also designed the album cover for The Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock And Roll


However, his most famous album cover design is probably David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.


David Bowie's Diamond Dogs

David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

The album cover of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs immediately met with controversy. The cover art features Bowie as a striking half-man, half-dog grotesque and was controversial simply because the full painting clearly showed the hybrid’s genitals. The genitals were quickly airbrushed out for the 1974 LP’s gatefold sleeve, although the original artwork (and the inner cover artwork that featured Bowie in a hat holding onto a ravenous dog) has been included in CD re-issues.



 Guy Peellaert also designed some quite striking film posters.

He designed two posters for Wim Wenders films: Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas - Wim Wenders


… and Wings of Desire.

Wings of Desire - Wim Wenders

Wings of Desire – Wim Wenders


He also designed the poster for Robert Bresson’s L’argent…


and for Robert Altman’s Short Cuts.

Robert Altman's Short Cuts

Robert Altman – Short Cuts


However, his most famous, most iconic film poster design is probably the one he created for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.


Peellaert made his debut as a theatre decorator and as a comic strip artist. His style was influenced by psychedelic art and Pop Art. He painted using a very photo-realistic style that favoured pastel.

His first comic strip, Les Aventures de Jodelle, was published in 1966. The protagonist, Jodelle, was modelled after the singer Sylvie Vartan.



Peellart’s second comic strip heroine, Pravda, made her debut in 1968 and was modelled after the singer Françoise Hardy. 


The Brussels-born artist was one of the first artists to embrace the Pop Art movement that began in the late 1950s. His work has featured in major exhibitions in various cities across the world. He provided the surreal pictures for Nik Cohn’s book Rock Dreams, which was a fantasy tribute to the greats of rock and roll music. Rock Dreams has sold over a million copies.


The Beatles - Guy Peellaert

The Beatles – Guy Peellaert



Guy Peellaert was a major European artist. He died on Monday, November 17th, 2008 in Paris aged 74. He had been ill for some time with cancer.



In Memory of Guy Peelaert (April 6, 1934 – November 17, 2008)

Copyright © R J Dent (2009)

Revised version 2016


Translating Baudelaire

November 7, 2008


It is an abandoned city by the sea;
the wide streets are deserted and empty,
the houses hold nothing but silences,
and the pale sun-lit autumn air resounds
with echoes of a strident, vibrant past.

As I walk between ornamental parks
and vast buildings, seeing their perfection,
smelling the sea scents and the rich perfumes,
hearing the faint echoes of then, combined
with the wave rush and shingle drag of now,
I know you are reclining in a fine-
ly furnished room, immaculately dressed
and feeding a cat in between each line.

Translating Baudelaire
© R J Dent (2003 & 2009)

Translating Baudelaire is a much anthologised poem which has appeared in Braquemard, The Colour of Light and Best Poems & Poets 2003. It is included in R J Dent’s new poetry collection, Moonstone Silhouettes.


The Abandoned Hotel

November 7, 2008


Once crouched, now slouched on the clifftop, the off-white

ramshackle building has stood empty and deserted for years.

Most of the windows are boarded up against the watery light,

against damage, against weather. Obviously, the very real fears

of the last owners came true, for they’ve long since abandoned

it to time, space and memory. Once grand, it now stands bereft,

run-down; the hushed and dripping garden wildly overgrown; pond

choked, blocked with matter; formerly bright facade paint left

to peel and fall; gutters sag badly and pipes lean. Inside,

all of the rooms are silent, empty, carpeted with dust. A few

discarded items remain; a broken clock, smashed crockery, a tied-

back black velvet curtain, ragged and holey, a chandelier askew.

These are the fragmented remains of former glory, left over from when

it was, no doubt, seasonally full and very noisy. Now it is silent

save for the wind. From an empty room upstairs, the sea can be seen

throwing itself repeatedly against the rocks, tirelessly constant.


The Abandoned Hotel
© R J Dent (2009)


Easter Island by R J Dent

November 7, 2008



When the couple came ashore the sky was violet.

They floated in on a warm tide encased in gold,

clapped their hands together to change the sky’s colour

and touched lip to lip, inhaling each other’s life.

They carved their faces deep in stone so many times

that each cut took them closer to infinity;

when they walked into the sea no blind eye saw them,

but they had sight of all they’d been before, or known,

or felt within a multitude of lifetimes. Sensing

the faces concealed a thousand wondrous stories,

they waited for the future’s children to appear.


Easter Island

© R J Dent (2005)

Photo (c) Steven K

Easter Island was first published in Earth Love, 2005


Frog Rain

November 7, 2008


by R J Dent

Yesterday, thousands of frogs fell out of the sky
and landed on the town’s roofs and roads with loud splatters.
Some heard this noisy avalanche as soft delicate patters,
but no one knew what had caused the frog rain, or why

it had fallen that day. The frogs themselves were tiny
little creatures; yellow-brown, diamond-backed
things that looked like mottled, camouflaged, black-
striped lapel badges for a secret military organisation. Their shiny

eyes were emerald, sapphire. They looked other-worldly and although
many leading experts said that such frogs were common in all
sorts of places dotted around the globe, naturally they all stalled
when it came to saying exactly where. And this we know

from past experience: There are a great many strange
and mysterious things which occur on Earth, things
we’ll never have satisfactory explanations for. In spring,
it’s predicted that the colour of each frog will change.

Frog Rain
© R J Dent (2008)


Growing Up With Stephen King

November 2, 2008

Stephen King

Like a lot of people, I grew up with the stories of Stephen King providing thrills and scares and entertainment in my life. The first book of his I read was The Shining.


Appositely enough, I read it in a hotel room (although not in room 217) in the early hours of the morning. It scared the hell out of me. There was something about King’s style: the superb characterizations, the careful place descriptions, the build up of suspense, unease and unrelenting horror, that combined so compellingly that I became an instant King fan – and have been one ever since.


When a new book came out, I bought it. As I’ve said, The Shining was my first King novel. It was followed by ‘Salem’s Lot – along with Carrie, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, and Cujo.


When Cycle of the Werewolf came out, I bought it, loving the story – and the amazing Bernie Wrightson illustrations – and admiring King’s bravery for attempting to update a somewhat clichéd folk myth. Christine was okay, but it suffered from shifting narrative perspectives – first person, then third, then back to first. It’s one of King’s weakest novels. Not the weakest, but one of them. The Talisman (with Peter Straub followed Christine, and it was a definite improvement. There are some great moments in the novel, particularly the Wolf and the children’s home sections. The next novel, the brilliantly scary Pet Sematary, was excellent, especially the hospital scene, the woods (deadfall/wendigo) scene and the graveyard scene.


Then came It. Big in ideas, grand in execution, It didn’t really work. King was trying to put everything into one book. Strangely, I liked the Bill Denborough bits the best. And the coffer dam bit, of course. The clown bit was okay, but it was travestied in the film, so that most people now think It is a clown. It’s not. Skeleton Crew was next and it was great because it contained The Mist – still one of my favourites – and The Reach. The children’s book, The Eyes of the Dragon, despite adverse criticism regarding its quality, is a wonderful, powerful novel.



During this phase of King’s career, I bought Danse Macabre and Different Seasons. In the latter, my favourite stories were (and still are): The Body, Apt Pupil and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. The Breathing Method was okay, but it’s the weakest story in the collection. The Body and Apt Pupil are the strongest. It’s a pity the film version of Apt Pupil didn’t work. Danse Macabre is a wonderful look at the horror genre in general and is very entertaining and informative.


Also, by this time I’d become aware of King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym/alter ego. I bought Thinner and The Bachman Books and enjoyed them, particularly Rage and The Running Man. I liked King/Bachman’s style. And I was impressed at how prolific King was.


And then came Misery, and if there’s a better King novel, then I’m not sure which one it is. It rocks. It’s so powerful, it’s amazing.  This novel was proof that King was again at the top of his game, showing exactly how it should be done. The story of the battle of wills between Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes is a classic conflict. It’s also the ultimate drama – two people battling for supremacy in a room, which is what makes it so compelling.


The Tommyknockers (still a personal favourite) followed Misery and it was wonderful. Stephen King was dabbling in pseudo-science fiction and the result was glorious. His two main characters (Bobbi Anderson and Gard) were – as always – beautifully presented, fully rounded people. I felt for them.


Then there was The Dark Half and then Four Past Midnight. The former, and one section of the latter, Secret Window, Secret Garden, were parts of a writer/identity trilogy that had started with Misery, according to King. The next novel, Needful Things, wasn’t anything like The Dark Half or Secret Garden, Secret Window. The Needful Things story was okay, but I didn’t – and still don’t – understand what it was trying to do. I like the description of the shop, but that’s about it.


Gerald’s Game was next. It was the story of one person in a room – and it was as scary as hell. Try it. You’ll see. In fact, Gerald’s Game was so amazing that Dolores Claiborne got a bit overshadowed. Nightmares and Dreamscapes and Rose Madder came next. Rose Madder was okay, but Gerald’s Game was the superior novel from this era. Then came Desperation. It’s not King’s best novel, but it’s not his worst either. That dubious honour goes to Insomnia, the King novel that put everyone to sleep because of its attempt to be so politically correct. That novel is probably the one King novel to avoid, unless you’re a completist. It’s not really that good.


The next two novels though are very good. Bag of Bones is excellent, with some interesting insights into writing/publishing. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is King at his best again. It’s the story of a young girl lost in the Maine woods and her fight for survival. It’s excellent. Hearts in Atlantis, which followed them, is okay. Dreamcatcher got good reviews, but undeservedly so. Everything’s Eventual is okay, as is From A Buick 8, but they’re not exceptional. Cell is a lot better – a good story with some genuinely scary moments.



King’s next novel was Lisey’s Story. It’s supposedly a literary story, but it’s just another story that starts off in a realistic sort of world and then flips into a supernatural alternate world. It’s okay, but apart from a bit on celebrity stalkers, it’s just King being pretty good, but not amazing. It’s not classic King. It’s reasonable King, but that’s all.


There’s a few I’ve missed mentioning. They are the other two Bachman books: The Regulators and Blaze, both of which are good in their own ways. The Regulators suffers from a weak ending (as do a lot of King’s novels), whereas Blaze is a very good story of a backwards petty criminal. I’ve also skipped Night Shift, a very good short story collection; Nightmares in the Sky (with gargoyle photographs by F. Stop Fitzgerald). The Green Mile; The Colorado Kid; On Writing; Black House (a sequel to The Talisman with Peter Straub), and of course, the seven books in The Dark Tower series: The Gunslinger; The Drawing of the Three; The Waste Lands; Wizard and Glass; Wolves of Calla; Song of Susannah; and The Dark Tower.


Duma Key is very good – quite creepy in places, with a compelling story told by a very believable first person narrator. Just After Sunset is a very good collection of short stories, with The Gingerbread Girl, N, and A Very Tight Place being the best stories in that collection. Under The Dome is a fast-paced town-under-siege thriller with a few science fiction and gothic elements thrown in for good measure. It’s a very entertaining read with some great characterisation. Full Dark, No Stars is a set of four novellas, with the weakest story first and the strongest amd most powerful last. It is a collection in which King shows his full powers as a writer.


Which brings me to 11/22/63. This is the novel SK’s been waiting to write for years. It’s a Kennedy-era spin on Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return, but it’s in no way inferior to that particular work – in fact, 11/22/63 is one of King’s more recent bests. Dr. Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, has a now-adult Dan Torrence pitched against some very evil people… and an evil influence from his past; Mr Mercedes is a non-supernatural novel, a cat-and-mouse thriller, with a killer taunting a retired cop, with some interesting (and often white-knuckle) results. It’s one of Stephen King’s best novels. Recently, Revival has been published and I’m reading it right now. So far, so good.




Okay, that’s my quick round-up of the books of Stephen King. I grew up with them and I’m still growing up with them and am still reading them. Not that he needs to write another word; he’s contributed hugely to his culture, and has made many people happy.I’d like Stephen King to continue bringing out a new novels as great as The Shining, Pet Sematary, Misery, The Tommyknockers, Gerald’s Game, Bag of Bones, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Cell, or Mr Mercedes and I’m happy to wait for each new novel as it’s published. I started reading Mr King in 1974 and I’ll go on reading his books for as long as I can.



Copyright © R J Dent (2014)