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Panoramic Lounge Bar by John Stammers (Picador, 2001)

Dean Farrow works at the Poetry Library, and he has chosen to introduce this book by a poet he knows well, John Stammers:

When Michael Donaghy died in 2004, a few weeks before I was due to start studying with him as my tutor, I learnt that his replacement was to be John Stammers, a close friend and former student of Michael. I never met Michael Donaghy but his reputation as a poet and teacher was nothing short of legendary. So who was this John Stammers? I immediately went out and bought his first collection, Panoramic Lounge Bar, by way of introduction. I found Panoramic Lounge Bar instantly engaging and was relieved and excited that John was to be by teacher for the coming year.

John Stammers

I've tried to remember what poems first grabbed my attention once I had Panoramic Lounge Bar "in the flesh", and the one I remember first was definitely 'Torch', a poem with a first sentence structured so memorably I'm still 'nicking' its "We, down High Holborn, and full up with libretto, home, after The Mikado, loped".
That getting from we to loped is carried throughout the poem as the reader is carried along High Holborn via many side issues, passing thoughts and light opera.

Following this sweet discovery of a sentence structure, and poem, I could refer back to time and time again, there was the poem 'What do you do on your week off?' Why, jump on a plane and head out West and down Mexico way, of course. A cult film of a poem, I swaggered all the way to work ... Same old same old.

And there are others, I made a list of nine. 'Impression' (touching), 'Weather Report' (it's got that famous Lounge-Bar in it), 'I put away my ears' (Lou Reed does Royal Festival Hall), 'The Tell' (I'd just seen the film and I like the sneak in this one), 'The Last Vampire' (where else would a vampire end up?) 'When I' the night' (William Barnes and dialect make a 21st Century appearance), and finally 'Perhaps you have dreams' - and it is the last stanza of this last poem that I'd like to finish with:

"Perhaps all dreams are what someone who wants you has had
And, not being able to have you, has had what you wanted instead."

Books by John Stammers are:

Panoramic Lounge Bar (Picador, 2001)
Buffalo Bills (Donut Press, 2004)
Stolen Love Behaviour (Picador 2005)

More information on John Stammers, and a few poems can be found here:

www.johnstammers.co.uk
www.clivejames.com 
www.thepoem.co.uk

You can find poems and interviews by John Stammers on www.poetrymagazines.org.uk.

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