Category Archives: Sappho returns to Letchworth

Sappho returns to Letchworth 5

In the autumn of 2011, Poetry ID were approached to compose poems to celebrate the return of the statue of Sappho to Letchworth, after an absence of fourteen years. Click Sappho returns to Letchworth to see all the poems posted here. Read and enjoy!

DEAD SOULS

Susie and Stevie
holding hands
love not yet
they are independent travellers

a tribute frieze
embellishes their shower curtain
hot water
milky coffee breasts
beats Manchester any day

the cunning wall
has invented a shadow
puzzled
they lick the sweet sun
off their fingers and toes

the rooms of Sappho
tabulating the air
with the poem of her honey smile
a good little earner

Susie Stevie
brides to be
having a laugh
kissing on the town hall steps
fragments in their hair

Sappho loved the educated soul
not sugar water
or holiday snaps
her lovers remain
secret
and deceased

Gareth Writer-Davies

My Sweet Lord

O sweet Lord of grace
My heart is with thee
I reach to you gladly
For your melody of words
That would sing for the world
Let me be your tears
And your love
Let me be your breath
And your hope
Let me share your blessings
Through your poetic words

Ian Harding

Sappho: An icon goes missing.

Part 1:

Just to think,
After all those years
You’d lain hidden in that
Garden city backwater.
All but forgotten,
You’d passed so far
Under the radar
In suburban camouflage.

The irony, indeed,
That you were outed.
Grassed up
By Team Sappho, of all people.
Your whereabouts,
There, in black and white,
For anyone and everyone
To see.

And seen they were.
Maybe by some South London firm,
Who came over the River,
With acetylene torch
And tipper grab,
Stolen to order,
In the dead of night.

Part 2:

Communiqué No.1:

From The Sapphic Sisters (South London) Scrap Metal Liberation and Re-cycling
Co-operative.

Subject: Disappearance of Sappho statue – It was us what did it.

We, the Sapphic Sisters etc, as above,
Do admit and declare responsibility
For the removal and liberation of the said bronze statue
Of our beloved Sappho,
From some weird town out in the sticks.
Somewhere over the River.

Sorry, Sapphy, hun, for turning you over.
No offence meant.
But business is business.
And what’s a bit of bronze between friends?
It was all done very respectfully and tasteful,
Before we melted it down.
But you don’t need a statue
To be remembered by.
You still live on in us, babe.
Apart from the poncey poetry.

Communiqué ends.

Adam Warwicker

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Sappho returns to Letchworth 4

In the autumn of 2011, Poetry ID were approached to compose poems to celebrate the return of the statue of Sappho to Letchworth, after an absence of fourteen years. From time to time, we shall upload some of these poems. Read and enjoy!

Fearless Heart

O fearless heart
That knows no boundaries
That knows no reason to doubt
Strides out with victorious armies

O fearless heart
That knows not how
That knows just why
Follows the distant dream

O fearless heart
That has travelled rough terrains
That has battled to victory
To stand triumphant on high plains

O fearless heart
That fuels the fires of passion
That delights in the exquisite chase
Will honour just the one true love

O fearless heart
Not knowing ones fate
Not knowing when the day is to be cut short
Surrenders at heaven’s gate

Ian Harding

Whodunnit?

The statue went missing
From out of the park.
It must have happened
Sometime after dark.

The iconic Sappho,
Removed from her plinth,
By someone equipped
With a saw and a winch.

After she’d been outed
By one of her team,
Some desperado
Came up with a scheme.

The law were just baffled.
Now the trail has gone cold.
A Garden City mystery:
Never to unfold.

There’s not a sign.
She cannot be traced.
But by Zeus, I hear
The poet will be replaced.

We’ll never know
Who pulled off this coup.
It wasn’t me.
But it could have been you.

Adam Warwicker

LCD

the fallen woman as Pin Up

the crystal sea
detonated you

the picture
sharp and clear

the apostate woman
performing
her leap
from the Leucadian Rock

man’s interest is pricked

stretching the canvas
he draws a line in the earth
with his boot
smoke rings
treasury note

the meaning of Sappho
is business
and he is dressed in his mother’s
best velvet
as he calculates
the cost of hot pink

again the leap
this time her wrap
is transparent

once more
dragged to the cliff
abandoned
she jumps

the sea
two thousand years deep
magnetises shrapnel
sells it off cheap

the fallen woman
doing the breaststroke
at three hundred pixels per inch

Gareth Writer-Davies

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Sappho returns to Letchworth 3

In the autumn of 2011, Poetry ID were approached to compose poems to celebrate the return of the statue of Sappho to Letchworth, after an absence of fourteen years. From time to time, we shall upload some of these poems. Read and enjoy!

Sappho in Letchworth

Exotic bird
who hungered
for every fruit,
you came to sing
in this Garden City.

But the reformers
had no time for song
and the men in bowlers
choked you with pipe-smoke
as they walked by.

You played your lyre
to a circle of trees.
Then the modern maenads
stole you away
and you wandered.

Colourful bird,
they say you’re coming
back to the garden.
But what will you sing
in the cold air?

Dennis Tomlinson

Sappho to Alcaeus

Wine, you advise, is the best cure
for sorrow, and also the best adjunct
to happiness. It’s true that a glass

of retsina would raise my spirits
when autumn winds shook the olives,
and when I kissed Kala, our lips often

carried the fragrance of amphorae.
But she’s gone, and it’s winter;
I can’t stand the smell of wine.

I sit tuning my lyre, brush sad songs
from my heart in a falling cadence;
now only music will do.

John Gohorry

SAPPHO AS A BOY

comfortable
in top hat and tails
a proper gent

she is the talk
of the salons and bars
copies of her
fetch high prices

her knickers are red
in case she forgets

before Cyrus
her island paradise
floated above the clouds
in golden blue
love was an education

Sappho
the king
the accused woman
what the butler saw

Sappho as a boy
the big comeback
falling in love with a boy
flying
onto the rocks below

Gareth Writer-Davies

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Sappho returns to Letchworth 2

In the autumn of 2011, Poetry ID were approached to compose poems to celebrate the return of the statue of Sappho to Letchworth, after an absence of fourteen years. From time to time, we shall upload some of these poems. Read and enjoy!

Sappho in Hades

I drank deep at the well of memory
when first I came here to the quiet,
clinging to the beauties of the earth,
their warm breath, their scented touch.

My shade walked the halls of school
and grove for nigh on a millennium
until the time of the hero-boys,
all Homeric thunder and tight buns.

Then, they closed the halls at Eleusis,
where once my beloved priestess
fed swine for the greater mystery..
They would thunder down the chute

like motorbikes on a highway, pumping
full with love and terror the hearts
of new initiates. A pig would die
in the dark. Such are we, the assenting

crowd would cry. Such are we.
And they would see the Maiden
in her glory, and know the joy
of dying to the golden-haired,

To be roasted, eaten, and born again
to the dark queen. When I came here,
she called  to me by name, offering
to me, alone, her box of beauty.

It is open. Never in life such desire:
Eros and a butterfly in chains.
Psyche, psyche, psyche. Light now
the lamp. These eyes are in flames.

Luisetta Mudie
© Luisetta Mudie

Luisetta Mudie’s recent poetry collection is available here for download or print-on-demand.

The Re-Education of Sappho

Right then, Sappho
Take a seat,
It’s time for your lez-ed.
Though we adore you and applaud you
For giving us our name,
And we celebrate by travelling
To where you first got laid…
And our culture wouldn’t be the same
Without a girl like you –
You’ve been studied, robbed and quoted,
Influenced the great Miss Duffy,
God, imagine if she met you
She would want to touch your…

Anyway!
Now hears the thing,
Maybe it’s coz you’re Greek,
All your unrequited love, girl
Is nothing but a tragedy!
You must have picked the wrong ones,
Well you did, coz most got married,
I know that you “got married too”
But your husband’s name was “Penis”, get me?

Now I’m sure if you had known
How to spot a girl who’s funky,
You’d probably spend less time pining
And more time with her monkey.
So Sappho, here it is,
Kindly lend me you ear,
The rest is vital information
For any modern queer…

First you’ve got your Diesel Dyke,
She owns a bike, and probably some leather,
Got tats, wears tanks, a beer belly, and
Goes by the name of Heather (?)
Next you’ve got your hippies
With dreadlocks in their hair –
All I’ll say is, if it’s bad on top
Then what’s it like down there?

Third – the Sporty Lez,
Pony-tail, a hockey stick,
Make-up to a minimum,
Which brings me on to “Lipstick” –
These are girls who look like girls,
Not just girls, but “girls”,
Nice to look at, pretty faces,
But no use with long nails…

Next is your Granola –
Her best mate’s Peter Storm.
You know, coz she only shops at Milletts
And he’s all she’s ever worn.
The Granola’s love a bit of
Soya, seeds and rye,
All things natural,
Never thought of using hair dye.
But your cool and trendy girl round town,
She has, she comes from Shoreditch –
Good clothes, good taste, taste good, looks great,
She dumped me, she’s a bitch…

Next is your Burlesque –
Now these are fairly new,
But if you like a curvy girl,
This is the sort for you.
Then you’ve got the hedgehog type,
Generally, their hair is shite –
Too much Dax, no board to wax,
But always in those boardshorts…
And bikini tops…

Wait, I missed one,the Libraian –
Bookish, bob and tights,
Likes Virginia Wolf and Sarah Walters,
Especially that “Fingersmith”,
Studied gender roles whilst kissing girls
In the halls at Cambridge (of course).

So there you have it, Sappho –
No more talk of “crushed down spirits”,
Take you lyre and fire
Up a winner,
You can write now of success.
Forget the Isle of Lesbos,
Gyrinna and Atthis,
Now you can spot yourself a sure thing,
Right here,
In “Twat Boutique”.

Holly Thompson

TIPS

Sappho
the kind of woman
other women hate

does not make a drama
out of burnt coffee
looks good in a drape
fascinates with her fingertips

she’s been around
she is the status quo
men and women
apart
are all the same to her

with a planet
above her head
she is

when she is not
she pops another poem
into the pot
and buries it in the hillside

last year
a goat
stamped its foot
and the world shook

Sappho
is coming to town
would like to meet
for conversation or maybe more

Gareth Writer-Davies

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Sappho returns to Letchworth 1

In the autumn of 2011, Poetry ID were approached to compose poems to celebrate the return of the statue of Sappho to Letchworth, after an absence of fourteen years. From time to time, we shall upload some of these poems. Read and enjoy!

BEST MATES

Theft of statue of Sappho
Letchworth, 1998

in the bosom
of the night
Atthis and Anactoria
with a low loader
and a chisel

their garden in Brixton
has had a makeover
they need
a motive for their island bed

Ana and Atthi
are best mates
and can’t get over it
when they look in each others eyes
they like what they see

two blows
with the heavy hammer
breaks a nail
her mouth opens
like an oyster shell

back home
a blanket warms her cheek
the wit of drunks and schoolboys
yields
to a little spit and polish

Atthis and Anactoria are known
as the real thing
by those in the know
their sweet secret
the song
of Sappho’s lyre

Gareth Writer-Davies

Red Bus

You are a bus driver, Aphrodite.
You drive a red bus only women can get on.
Every morning, while I am waiting at a stop,
I dream of beautiful ladies with lips
the colour of the bus.
Once I scan my Oyster card,
my eyes search for a girl
I first saw last Friday.
Whenever I long for her to glance at me,
a blue bus passes by
from the other side of the road.
That is a men-only bus.
I beg Aphrodite to abate my torment.
She winks and tells me to wait.
When I walk down to the bus stop next morning,
I find all the buses are painted red.

Yuko Minamikawa Adams

Rhodopis to Sappho

In Cairo, men paid me to dance
in a tunic painted with palm trees
and sandals laced to the knee;

they fed me the filthy script
I spoke that they took for love lines
and paid me when it was over.

But here in Lesbos you take me
unwashed, with thorns in my feet,
bruised ribs, and lice in my hair;

you anoint me with honey, speak
tender words in my ear, and your lips
touching mine, ask no payment.

John Gohorry

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