At the Mountjoy Hotel (1993)

ATMH Cover image

Chapbook published in 1993 by Enitharmon Press as part of the Enitharmon Pamphlet Series in an edition of 200 numbered copies: more information here.

This poem won the Duncan Lawrie Prize in the 1991 Arvon International Poetry Competition, judged by Andrew Motion, Selima Hill, John Hartley Williams and Sheldon Flory.

Selima Hill wrote: “The craft . . . never falters. The form, the language, the tone . . . are spot on. We feel we are in the hands of an expert. But the subject matter? Does this man deserve a poem to himself? Curiously enough – and this is what makes this such a controversial poem – one does want to read about him. Readers will have to make up their own minds. It certainly made me sit up, which poetry, don’t you think, should do?”

Blurb

The cynical musings of an underemployed IT expert are cut across by the hopes and fears of a young bride in Martyn Crucefix’s ambitious long poem. Each character offers partial truths in search of a more encompassing vision that eventually, astonishingly, emerges: “he sees it now – their need to find // a redeemable heart – their plea to judges / who don’t want to know”.

From this chapbook:

I

Let me tell you – lunchtime boozing

never agreed, but he gets them in anyway.

‘Who doesn’t?’ he shrugs.

 

And which one of you will blame him?

Beached in this unrelieved morgue,

this market town, this middle-England,

 

the thick end of a dozen miles from Coventry.

You see – the Hotel’s class but he hates

the maids, their gloss and preen, their ‘Sir’

 

and ‘Yes, sir’, no matter how he treats them.

They’re like those white peppermint chunks

that get dropped in urinals: pissed on

 

they pump out a perfume designed to please

but which snags his nose.

Even so, he’s already chatted

 

the specially simpering one,

her complexion pitted like a strawberry.

I know now. I am more scared to lose

   

my home than my virginity.

When I told Mum that, she didn’t laugh.

Now we’re here. At The Mountjoy Hotel.

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