Deborah Tyler-Bennett is a poet and fiction writer. Over 400 of her poems and short fiction pieces have been published nationally and abroad. Deborah's current collections are Kinda Keats from Shoestring Press (2013), poems based on her residency at Keats House Hampstead, and a book of short fictions inspired by the music hall tradition, Turned Out Nice Again (King's England Press, 2013). Her collected poems are published in Clark Gable in Mansfield (2003) and selected poems can be found in Take Five edited by John Lucas (Shoestring Press, 2003), Pavilion (2010), Revudeville (2011) and Mytton … Dyer … Sweet Billy Gibson… (2011). Her poetry collection, called Anglo-Punk: Sonnets on the Life of Beau Brummell will be published in 2014 by Salmon Press. Her poems were recently translated into Romanian and broadcast on Radio Bucharest.
Deborah has promoted creative writing widely in the Leicestershire region. She co-authored several creative writing resources (with Mark Goodwin) for Leicestershire’s Open Museums and Artworks collections. She also produced an educational pilot, called The Ballad of Epping and Other Poems, to accompany the Artworks collection into schools. Together with Gillian Spraggs, she co-authored the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Creative Writing Web Package. Deborah has given numerous readings and workshops at venues such as Keats House, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion tearooms, The National Gallery, The Science Museum. She has participated in literary festivals including The Callander Poetry Weekend, Lowdham Book Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Brighton Fringe.
From Pavilion (2010)
Most Definitely a Ladies’ Man
They don’t know what I’m thinking, and by the time they’ve
clicked, I’ll be moved on to the next hotel,
the Esplanade or Grand. When These Foolish Things is played
they’ll think of me, and I of them, but not in the same way.
I stand immaculate: from the board-room-table polish of my shoes,
to nacre cufflinks (how they appreciate a man who manicures,
confiding ‘my Gerald never manicures’,
and isn’t it all about confidences, when push comes to elegant shove?)
I used to love this game, the ins and outs, and irate husbands,
chances to be a Count, vagabond film star, beloved infidel,
but now it seems a whipper-snapper’s pursuit,
I tire of acting somebody.
Sparking bar-mirrors repeat my ruined face,
still handsome in a folded sort of way, and see
lost women circle, their rounds predictable
and glowing blank as pearlised buttons on a well-starched shirt.
This poem began at a workshop I developed for Leicestershire’s Open Museum’s ‘Behind the Scenes’ project, which aimed to generate writing from museum stores. My workshop took place in Barrow-Upon-Soar's Fashion Reserve Collection and the piece was inspired by a 1930s tuxedo on a tailor's dummy. Looking at the suit, I tried to visualise the man who wore it.
Montague Burton is named after the suit's origin. In this poem he relates a story that is already beginning to bore him. He is ready to move on. As with many of my created voices, I wanted the lines to have a shifting, restless quality. Those words that chime (rather than fully rhyming) resound with an echo. I have fractured Montague's image so that he is glimpsed in bar mirrors, or by means of details such as buttons or shoes.
I am a collector and wearer of vintage fashion. I have done a lot of work for museums and my poems are shaped by the colours and textures of their various collections. The East Midlands history of clothing manufacture is a seam that runs through the lines of my poetry. I am conscious of my own Nottinghamshire family history since some of my ancestors were stockingers. As I wrote, Montague’s voice increasingly resembled those hard-edged creations from the 1930s and ‘40s in the prose of Graham Greene and Patrick Hamilton. Given the region's association with fashion, it seemed appropriate to develop a character who began with a suit in Leicestershire and hung around various city hotels before departing to Brighton by the time the poem catches up with him.
Clark Gable in Mansfield, Rotherham: King’s England, 2003
Selected poems in Take Five, edited by John Lucas, Nottingham, Shoestring Press, 2003
Pavilion, Middlesbrough, Shoestring Press, 2010
Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson … Three Poetry Portraits, Rugby, Nine Arches, 2011
Revudeville,Huddersfield, King’s England, 2011
Kinda Keats: Poems on Keats House, Shoestring, 2013
Turned Out Nice Again: Stories Inspired by the Music Hall Tradition, King's England Press, 2013
Anglo-Punk: Sonnets on the Life of Beau Brummell, Moher, Salmon, 2014