10 Rue d’Anjou, 1pm

almost to his monocle. Erik’s impeccable
spotless against him her hand now pulled
down his standup balcony collar railings
downpipe her small chin silk black dress the
short and shoulderblade tip of chin the
photograph taken is goatee shade pulled
down almost to his monocle “her long
graceful neck” of the broad flat brimmed
over Valentine’s dark blade tip of cape
(Kluver’s mistake) its stand-away tortoise
shell spectacles from Germany mother’s
fourth floor apartment standup collar and show
some shoulder out of the shade overcoat by
plaster masks of lines “her long graceful neck”
the shutters shut (Gertrude) shutter his goateed
shadow broad brimmed flat hat slightly aslant
she shutters leaning lightly against him her
hand now resting on Erik’ s left shoulder “her
long graceful neck”

Wystan Curnow has published four books (not collections) of poetry. Cancer Daybook (Vanguard Xpress, Auckland, 1989), Back in the USA, (Black Light Press, Wellington, 1989), Castor Bay (Pictures and Proses, 1996) and the book from which ‘10 Rue d’Anjou, 1pm’ was taken, Modern Colours (Jack Books, Auckland, 2005). He has been teaching modern and contemporary poetry at the University of Auckland for many years, ‘language poetry’ in recent times. Last year he taught a course in creative writing. He is well known as a curator and  art critic.

Curnow comments: ‘ “Modern Colours” is a sampler from the a longish manuscript known as The Art Hotel. I stayed there. It’s in Wroclaw, Poland. Although there are other art hotels in Europe, that’s the one with which I am acquainted.  The poem in question however is set in Paris; Jean Cocteau’s mother had a fourth floor apartment at 10 Rue d’Anjou, and around about 1 pm on the 10th or 11th of August, 1916, Cocteau took a photograph of Erik Satie, the composer, and Valentine Gross, the painter and socialite, on the balcony.  Kluver is Billy Kluver who wrote about the photograph, and Gertrude is of course Gertrude Stein who wrote about shutters and many other matters.’

Poem source details >