Jeffrey Wainwright Poet Poetry The Reasoner Academic
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Four collections and one audiotape:

The Important Man Northern House Pamphlet Poets No 14, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1971

Heart's Desire Manchester, Carcanet Press, 1978
SBN 85635 238 1
paperback, 1979 same SBN
Selected Poems Manchester, Carcanet Press 1985 ISBN 0-85635-598-4

The Red-Headed Pupil Manchester, Carcanet Press 1994
ISBN 1 85754 086 7
Audio: Jeffrey Wainwright Canto Modern Poets,
Canto Publications, 1984

Out of the Air Manchester, Carcanet Press, 1999,
ISBN 85754-415-3

Clarity or Death! Manchester, Carcanet Press, 2008, ISBN 978 1 85754 912 62008

The Reasoner Manchester, Carcanet Press, 2012, ISBN 978 1 84777 146 9


A small collection of poetry reading clips.


From the French, mainly of drama for productions on stage and radio
Charles Péguy, The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc
adaptation by J-P Lucet for Comédie Française:
RSC Fringe 1984 with Patricia Routledge & Josette Simon;
Almeida Jan 1986 with Patricia Routledge & Tilda Swinton;
BBC Radio 3 Dec 1988 with Patricia Routledge & Harriet Walter; all productions by A J Quinn

Text published with Introduction, and an Afterword by Marina Warner, Carcanet Press, 1986, ISBN 0-85635-690-5

Paul Claudel, The Satin Slipper BBC Radio 3, Dec 1988,
with Alex Jennings, Emily Richard & John Shrapnel; produced by Peter Kavanagh

Pierre Corneille, Le Cid BBC Radio 3, June 1994
with Kate Buffery, Imogen Stubbs & Nicholas Farrell; produced by Peter Kavanagh;
repeated BBC Radio 3, June 1996

Bernard-Marie Koltès
In the Solitude of Cotton Fields (Dans la Solitude des Champs de Coton) for The Royal Exchange/BBC Radio 'Koltès: A European Playwright' Workshop, 10 November 1996; part broadcast in Night Waves, BBC Radio 3, 14 November 1996.

Stage première by Magpie Theatre, State Theatre of South Australia, director Benedict Andrews, May 1997.

Broadcast BBC Radio 3, 7 March 1999. Producer Melanie Harris. Repeated 1 August 1999.

Stage production, Actors Touring Company, London, Autumn 2001

New York production, Horizon Theatre Company,
Summer 2002

In the Solitude of Cotton Fields (Dans la solitude des champs de coton) republished in Koltès Plays: 2, London: Methuen, December 2003, pp. 181-215, ISBN 0-413-77375-2.

Translations of poems by Jacques Darras & Suzanne Jacob in La Traductière, Paris, 1983

Translations of some poems by Philippe Jaccottet, faire part no 10-11, Valence, Autumn 1987

Les Amours de Jacques le Fataliste by Denis Diderot, stage adaptation by Francis Huster. unpublished


A list of books and articles by Jeffrey Wainwright on a variety of poets, poetic texts and topics.


Some poems from and background to CLARITY OR DEATH! published July 2008 by CARCANET.

FORWARD PRIZE 'An Empty Street'

'An Empty Street' is the poem shortlisted for the Best Single Poem category of the Forward Prize 2014.

An Empty Street

After Ottone Rosai, via San Leonardo

What is there to an empty street?
And one so commonplace,
narrow, with two high walls,
bending out of view.
No one in sight
and no one expected.
No Dame Trot for sure,
with her basket over her arm,
the check cloth covering dainties,
her hat perched so,
her pince-nez expectant.
Even she has hurried away.


What is there to an empty street?
The photo (bottom right,
curated later)
shows the doorway
to have been your studio
(there’s a plaque).
Still no one to see.
Have they tip-toed round
another way, anxious
to preserve its vacancy for you
and leave your lines,
so carefully set forth, intact?


What is there to an empty street?
Let’s get impatient,
let’s add a sound track
somewhere beyond
but coming on this way.
We’ll have a marching band,
cornets, clarinet
and big bass drum,
at least the air is moving!
Until we lose control –
the band has wheeled away.
You, or the street, has won again.


What is there to an empty street?
Have you seized it
for your melancholy,
shushed and deterred
all would-be passers-by,
your neighbours,
even understanding friends
emptied them out
like plums from a paper bag
and then folded
and re-creased it
as you have it now?


What is there to an empty street
that you will not let it go?
There is no blood,
robbery or impiety
open to the view,
no spectacles required
to see what can be seen,
not even, for certain,
what I’ve called your melancholy.
So you leave me here,
just as you meant to do,
watching the street.


What is there to an empty street?
Is it one of those secret worlds
with metaphysics skulking in the walls,
that door so enigmatic?
Maybe there is something
we might wish to see
face to face to be
chased from the shadows,
or shaken from the trees
but we never –
These workaday walls are still
the only splendour to be seen.


What is there to an empty street?
This time there is a tree,
like a fright wig,
looming above the wall.
The street is embarrassed,
the wall hides itself in shadow,
the corner beetles off
to its secret lodging.
The tree allows two points
of light, like puppets’ eyes,
to hold and behold
the blue-ish scene.


What is there to an empty street?
Almost nothing now:
The red wall
the grey wall
the yellow road,
green trees, the blue
of the sky, all simplified,
all still obdurate,
still resisting,
still insisting
they not be named
wall, road, trees, sky.


What is there to an empty street?
It seems all that remains.
The corner turns
into the unglimpsed
and none has passed by,
it seems, in ages.
But thus far the walls
and even the trees,
for all their skittering,
appear dependable.
They will not fly off, by Jove,
and leave us darkling.


What is there to an empty street?
To be candid now
the terror that it not be there.
Already so much particular
is gone, chased away
by the rage we find
for order: the simply sunlit,
the clearly pure,
the assent to less.
You must have seen it going
before your very eyes,
but you painted on.


What is there to an empty street
and yet how easily
I find myself enticed
along your unfathomed carriageway.
And isn’t this
what you made it for?
You paint no footfall
but I can hear my steps
and the rustle of my clothes
as I proceed along,
sidling sometimes to pass through
the viewless crowd.


What is there to an empty street?
With this one there is the future
possibly, which is always
curving out of sight,
naturally. Out of sight.
But no one wants to see it,
which is why you are alone
and invisible, save for what you see,
what you can’t help but see:
the thickening light,
and whoever has gone before
and had to leave you here.


What is there to an empty street?
The bruise of the dark corner
as it fades,
the antiquity
of your painstaking lines,
verticals and horizontals,
such composure –
Nice, but how I’d love to drive
a barrel hoop
down your street,
ruddy and exulting,
a boy of nine again.


What is there to an empty street?
Well, look hard enough,
tap tap at it,
wait by the gate,
peer at the tree,
meditate upon the bend,
walk the footpath
back and forth
and patience
will recognise your diligence.
And as the street dissolves
you shall be beckoned.


What is there to an empty street?
Do not break your nails
striving to climb the wall,
do not beat upon the gate
and you will flounder
if you try to pass the bend.
Pinch yourself:
this is where you are,
plump and slow.
There is no casement,
enchanted cleft or chasm.
Nowhere to pass or tumble to.


What is there to an empty street?
Might it as well be
dead nature,
like a glass of juice,
a cherry and its shadow,
sometimes a cruet?
Dead nature
with its auspices,
even the tree is
motionless and dumb.
Look how stock still
you will come to be.


What is there to an empty street?
But I am drawn to it,
indeed I fall upon it,
it saves me
from looking elsewhere,
saves me from knowledge.
Yes, it will do,
it is as much as I can deal with.
No pundits here,
no hucksters
the difficult future.


What is there to an empty street,
as empty as an afternoon,
paused in summer?
Only you are awake
to look at it,
always vigilant,
like the master
standing above his pupil.
Is this it?
Just as you want it?
But that cooking smell,
how long can you bear it?


What is there to an empty street?
The relief from indoors,
from what is behind the white gate,
inside the dull windows:
three men in hats
cheating each other at cards;
another solemn concertino;
a man on his haunches
with his face in his hands,
others whispering.
It is not free out here,
or genial, only quiet.


What is there to an empty street?
Suddenly I notice a lilac tree
spilling over the wall
just in sight, before the bend.
Or it could be plums
so prolific they colour out
the leaves.
How did I not register
so much activity,
the purpling underneath the window,
the purpling sunset
of the waiting storm?


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