Returning to Patricia Beer
Posted by elsie katz on Wed, 03 Jan 2018
Why is Exmouth's only well-known female writer (1919-1999) almost invisible?
The Guardian and the Independent both describe her poetry as 'wry.' Wry rhymes with 'shy', the vowels of wry chime with 'irony'. No mention of passion, fire, humour, bite. The lace curtain of 'wry' sells her short, ignores her often present precision and anger.
Her swipe at her father, who lived his working life
'from puberty to impotence'
as a railway clerk at Exeter St Davids, her observation that the expected role of women married to famous poets is one of
'helping the genius' - there's scratch and bite to Patricia.
Her Devon roots are always mentioned, the fact that after she taught in Italy and London University she moved to Up Ottery. Reviewers always point out that she moved with her second husband 'the architect,Damien Parsons' . Does Mr Parsons obituary mention that he 'moved to Up Ottery with his wife, the poet Patricia Beer.?' Patricia is smoothed,refined, sanded down to a genteel middle-class lady. Don't forget, she's 'wry.'
Feed 'wry' to the gulls, Patricia was not shy. When a literary review prematurely described her death she put together her own Collected Poems for her publisher Carcarnet.
She's not on the National Curriculum. She has not been dead long enough for there to be a PB revival.Yet time and time again, her poems deal with topics that matter right now, - women, railway closure, relocation, Christmas, nature, moving on from organised religion.
She's findable -library stacks, amazon, google. She also wrote 'Reader I married Him' which looks at 19 century fictional heroines.
I hope I have egged on at least 1 or 2 Abctalers to try her.