Sophie Herxheimer is a prolific, multi-disciplinary artist whose poetry is fiercely energetic, erudite and punchy. She’s held residencies for LIFT, Southbank Centre and Transport for London. Exhibitions include The Whitworth, The Poetry Library and The National Portrait Gallery. She’s illustrated five fairy tale collections, made several artists books, made a life size concrete poem in the shape of Mrs Beeton sited next to her grave; and a pie big enough for seven drama students to jump out of singing, on the lawn of an old peoples’ home. Sophie does the wonderful artwork for National Poetry Day every year. Recent publications include Velkom to Inklandt, Short Books Ltd. Sophie teaches for The Poetry School and The Royal Drawing School, and collaborates extensively. Her website is here and Twitter here.
Here is one of Sophie’s poems from the above book – the true story of her grandmother, who when she arrived in London as a refugee from Berlin in 1938, was surprised to be called ‘love’ by the bus conductor and others. She took it literally and was much cheered! Bus conductors in those days wore a ticket machine round their neck which had to be wound with a handle to dispense a bus ticket. This poem is of course much better read out loud:
Not zo mainy Dais zinz ve arrivink.
Zis grey iss like Bearlin, zis same grey Day
ve hef. Zis norzern Vezzer, oont ze demp Street.
A biet off Rain voant hurt, will help ze Treez
on zis Hempstet Heese vee see in Fekt.
Vy shoot I mind zet?
I try viz ze busses, Herr Kondooktor eskink
me… for vot? I don’t eckzectly remember;
Fes plees? To him, my Penny I hent ofa –
He nods viz a keint Smile- Fanks Luv!
He sez. Oh! I em his Luff – turns Hentel
on Machine, out kurls a tickett.
Zis is ven I know zat here to settle iss OK. Zis
City vill be Home, verr eefen on ze Buss is Luff.
© Sophie Herxheimer
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