‘SSH

By .

Illustrations by Anne Lamali

The poems in ’SSH, John Eliot’s first collection, cover an expanse, from thoughts inspired by an old family photograph taken before the First World War claimed two brothers on the Somme, to remembering the birth of his son when he stood as proud father. Another poem in the collection was begun in 1970 and finished in 2014.

The feeling and understanding that John brought to his role as a teacher of religion is evident when we read of St Cecelia or of the death of Jesus in The King of Thorns. The rural France where John lives is quiet and peaceful – a solitude that is shattered by death in his powerful poem, The Farmer.

The collection begins with The Dancer, an observation in an art gallery where there is a painting of his wife as a dancer. Observer, model and artist become as one, superbly illustrated in this collection by the drawings of Anne Lamali.

JOHN ELIOT was born in Leicester, England, the son of the local GP. His early interests in writing and music came together when, as editor of his university student newspaper, he interviewed reggae legend Bob Marley. He also had articles published in the fan magazines of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. John taught in the south-west of England before moving to France with his wife. He now writes full-time. His poems can be found in anthologies. He was the founder of the literary festival in St Clémentin, France. He has also published a novel, The Good Doctor.

French artist ANNE LAMALI lives in the village of St Clémentin. Drawing and painting for her has always been about being free to express herself and think differently, exploring the complexities of human life which make her work the perfect companion to John Eliot’s poetry. She uses a variety of techniques from line drawings, as seen in this collection, to oil and acrylic paintings. Anne mounts frequent exhibitions in her region but has also exhibited in Paris.

PRAISE FOR ‘SSH

“Like Pasternak, [John Eliot] is a poet who strives ‘to get to the heart of the matter’ in poems that are stripped back and uncluttered – moving and above all memorable.” – DAVID COOKE

“Tender, tragic, affectionate, regretful – these poems will startle you with the grim stories they tell and the gentleness with which they tell them. John Eliot is a new talent, and he deserves to be read.” – JAMES ANDREW TAYLOR, author of Walking Wounded: The Life and Poetry of Venon Scannell

“A sensory delight of narrative and image.” – BETHANY W POPE, author of Ordinary Lives

“These are poems that I want to read again and again. They are musical, they touched my soul. If there is one poetry anthology to buy this year, this is it!” – KATE BRITTEN

“…lovely poems… highly recommended.” – RL PROBERT, Amazon.co.uk

“I really love this book of poems by John Eliot. Physically it is a beautiful little book, just the right size to hold in the hand or slip into a pocket or bag… The poems are unbelievably revealing. If you don’t read poetry, I’d urge you to give this a go!” – PB, Amazon.co.uk

“SSH resembles an exquisite box of rich, elegant and dainty chocolates… a rich assortment of styles and themes that one can dip into at will and leisure.” – C SIMPSON, Amazon.co.uk

“A beautiful book of intense and lyrical poems that contains an eclectic mix of themes exploring a range of emotions; dark and sombre at times but also intriguing, mysterious and loving. This is not just a poetry book but a piece of artistry… to read and re-read.” – K ROGERS, Amazon.co.uk

“It seems this collection has taken Eliot decades to write, and it shows a range of styles and experimentation. It’s an excellent collection and well worth reading. Be prepared to be moved.” – SRG, Amazon,co.uk