GRAND TOUR POETRY
Paul’s second volume of verse (which reprises some poems first seen in Love Bites) is frequently autobiographical, with a general theme - as its title suggests - of travel and events abroad. Travel poems include Bahamas Undertow and Looking at the Seine, while The Kaiser, 1928 was inspired by a visit to Wilhelm II’s house in the Netherlands in 2018. Royalty also features in Talking to the King, one of the most poignant and personal poems in the collection.
A collection of poems on sex, relationships and London life. Set against a backdrop of West End theatres, cafés and luxury apartments, the poems reveal casual encounters, unexpected adventures and the sense of loss when a fling is over. From the tenderness of Sleeping to the rebuke of Darling, Can I Be Honest? this is a volume that looks at the price (Eros, Piccadilly Circus) and pleasures (Art Gallery) of sex.
One of the most striking poems in the collection is Princess Margaret, in which the young princess, after a night at the Royal Ballet, decides that she finally has to marry, to escape a gilded spinsterhood. Princess Margaret is an acerbic yet astute take on a dilemma that has intrigued royal biographers and been a major theme in the television series The Crown.
London, 1951. Twenty-year old Tommy, ambitious for a theatre career, seems to have struck it lucky as the latest fling of Ivor Novello, the wealthy West End matinée idol. Then one night he meets Guy Burgess, an Old Etonian alcoholic, charmer - and Soviet agent.
As the rivalry between his lovers becomes more intense, Tommy’s closest friends - Banya and Gertie, a retired star of the Edwardian stage - play a growing part in a situation that moves from a Theatreland love affair into an international incident: the defection of Burgess and Maclean to Moscow.
The Choice is Paul Ibell’s first novel. Poetry has an integral role, with W H Auden playing a part in the action and Guy Burgess is a devotee of Byron, whom he quotes as he flees England on an overnight ferry to the Continent. The main female character, Tommy’s friend Banya, works in a poetry shop named after one of Victorian and Edwardian England’s most popular poets, Sir Henry Newbolt.
Paul’s biography of America’s greatest playwright looks at Tennessee Williams’s life through his work. Though he is best known for his plays, including A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Williams saw himself a poet - and is described as such on his tombstone.
This book is a concise, informative and highly readable account of an essentially tragic and deeply flawed life, together with the extraordinary talent that created some of the most poetic and powerful stage dramas of the 20th century - and many striking poems. Paul’s book shines a fresh light on this aspect of Tennessee’s writing, and has been recommended for students of Tennessee’s work.