The first word I wrote was my name.
The first letter, probably, its capital “G.”
I remember the curve, the vertical stem,
the line at right-angle to it.
It’s still the same “G.”
But in nursery school, some teacher,
no doubt meaning well,
tried to make me write it another way.
a curve like a “C”, taken a little further
then a line back down, at an angle.
I didn’t like it that way. It wasn’t my “G”
But I couldn’t say to her
I know it another way, a way
that is mine: the way
my parents have shown me.
At primary school (“Big school,” I called it.)
they taught me yet other way
that Marion Richardson had designed:
a small “g” should not link
with another small “g” in the same word.
If I wrote the word “bigger”
it had to written as “big” then a “g”
and then would come the “er.”
And I was supposed to leave out
the right angled line.
I began to rebel.
My big “G” kept both straight lines.
I began to join
the small gees. The words
took the shape I chose.
The words became my own
on each page, each form, each poem
I write. And each time I tap it
onto a screen, there is my name
the word that says “I am.”
Graham Mummery lives in Sevenoaks, Kent. For a time he worked in investment banking and is now training to become a psychotherapist. His poems have appeared in various UK magazines including Ambit and Brittle Star. He is currently working towards his first full collection. Other publications his poems have appeared in include Gobby Deegan’s Riposte (Donut Press) as well as on websites such as poetrypf.co.uk. His own pamphlet, The Gods Have Become Diseases appeared in 2006.
He also has translated poems from French (by René Char, Yves Bonnefoy and Paul Eluard), from German (Goethe and Rilke) and Norwegian (André Bjerke). Some of these have also appeared in magazines and the anthology of translations from French and German Over the Water (Hearing Eye Press). He collaborated in translating from Romanian into English Deepening the Mystery (EdituraSemene) by Christiana Maria Purdescu. His own poems have been translated into Romanian and broadcast on Radio Romania Culture as part of the poetry pRO project, others into German as part of the sister project Poetry tREnD. He was one of the British poets who attended the W-orte Festival at Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich in 2010.
This international flavour is very much a feature of his interests. He feels a strong affinity with poets of the former Eastern Block and counts amongst his influences many outside traditional cannon as well as those inside. His poetry has been described by Moniza Alvi as “… a lightening conductor for the inventive and the contemplative.” And by John Stammers as “… the perfect riposte to the humdrum: learned, yet, humane; literary, yet of today. Ambit also headlined some of his poems saying on their cover : “Graham Mummery will rescue you barefooted with Einstein. He will explain to you the whole world.”