Oz Hardwick is a writer, photographer, music journalist, and occasional musician, based in York (UK). His work has been published and performed internationally in and on diverse media: books, journals, record covers, concert programmes, fabric, with music, with film, and with nothing but a residual West Country accent. He has published six poetry collections, most recently The House of Ghosts and Mirrors (Valley Press, 2017), and has edited and co-edited several more, including (with Miles Salter) The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry, which was a UK National Poetry Day recommendation in 2017. Following a dissolute youth of idealism and rock & roll, subsidised by assorted factories and retail outlets, Oz decided that Higher Education was a more effective way of changing the world, and he is now Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the Creative Writing programmes. He also teaches medieval literature, and has published widely on the intersections between written and visual cultures in the period, including the monograph English Medieval Misericords: The Margins of Meaning (Boydell, 2011). All things taken into account, he's probably proudest of his photos on Hawkwind album covers.
Afterparty (From 'The House of Ghosts and Mirrors') It was a big house, a lot of land, and I couldn’t remember who’d invited me. There were tyre tracks on the lawn and the carpet, but the party was winding down, tangled bodies on couches, on the landing, in the flower beds, leaving just a few of us, jittery with crystals and capsules. Someone said Read us one of your poems so I pulled out a couple of books and flipped through dog-eared pages. But I didn’t recognise any of the words, and my eyes blurred over unfamiliar phrases, and there was an awkward, jerky silence, until someone said Look, are you a poet or what? But by then my mouth was dry as I licked my sour, powdered finger, leafing frantically through hazy titles I couldn’t focus on, everyone getting restless. And all I could think of as the room spun sideways was your smile as you’d left, hours earlier, your arm resting lightly around someone else’s waist. Monochrome (from 'The Illuminated Dreamer') I don’t want colour, I want romance in black and white, lights low, your Clara Bow lips parting in a smile, in a dangerous kiss – no dazzling Technicolor extravaganza, all singing, all dancing. You know how to whistle, don’t you? That’s enough. There’s no need to paint the leaves: gas-lit streets will be our Sherwood Forest, we’ll do our own stunts, share cigarettes and leave no clues as we make our getaway in a black sedan, roads scrolling unconvincingly behind us. Back down the rainbow, leave the Yellow Brick Road behind, kick off your ruby slippers and dance in the Trevi Fountain, Parisian dives, high above Manhattan – no CGI, just wires and magic to fly you to the Moon. My Blue Angel in shades of silver, soft focused, haloed with Lillian Gish hair, for you I’ll extinguish Times Square’s gaudy neon glare, mute it to monochrome with a rising Gershwin score, meet you in secret when the last train has left. I turn my trench coat collar high, gaze into your Bergman eyes. I don’t want colour, I want romance in black and white. Here’s looking at you, kid.
All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.
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