The Black Guitar
Clearing out ten years from a wardrobe
I opened its lid and saw Joe
written twice in its dust, in a child's hand,
then a squiggled seagull or two.
a man's tears are worth nothing,
but a child's name in the dust, or in the sand
of a darkening beach, that's a life's work.
I touched two strings, to hear how much
two lives can slip out of tune
then I left it,
brought down the night on it, for fear, Joe
of hearing your unbroken voice, or the sea
if I played it.
Here is a book of ghosts, from the mysterious traveller in the title poem who, mistaken for another man, starts to crave his new alter ego, to the first person of 'Between Two Bridges', Henry's long poem on Newport, who follows his teenage ghost across the city for a night:
He pulls away. The wind puts its lips to an arcade.
A seagull on a barber’s pole waits to open its blades.
How the living haunt themselves is the concern of Ingrid's Husband, and the author discovers his spirits through an imagery of absences: a child's signature in the dust of an old guitar; the stone plinth where a café once stood; a white balloon drifting down a shopping arcade; a chateau, still furnished with the belongings of its vanished owner…
Love continues to underscore the commonplace in Paul Henry's fifth collection and this lyric poet’s distinctive voice continues to haunt its readers.
"Ingrid's Husband showcases Henry's eye for striking imagery… Ingrid's Husband succeeds as a powerful meditation on loss, and its tentative, never fully realised, attempts at renewal are always affecting… there's more than enough fine writing in this volume to reward sustained attention."
New Welsh Review
"Henry's poems work through images deftly juxtaposed; they evoke a world of fleeting memories and echo the processes of intuitive thought… Paul Henry can be mischievously perceptive of the danger lurking behind appearances."
"Paul Henry's lyrical poems achieve perfect pitch, matching sound to sense with, seemingly a minimum of effort. In Ingrid's Husband, his fifth collection from Seren, musicality of line is evident throughout."
"With the purity of a sixteenth-century poet, Paul Henry lets fall his beautiful lyrics like cloaks in the mud of every day. Effortless epiphanies and images gradually break open, releasing a strange power, a dark ocean of longing and loss. His poetry deepens our perception of the world."
"A poet's poet, Paul Henry gets maximum effect from minimum language. The ordinary becomes alive with possibility, comic, moving, magical, compassionate. A sense of the music of words combines with an endlessly inventive imagination."
"What I hate about this book is the fact that I didn't write it."
Paul Henry was born in Aberystwyth in 1959. He currently lives in Gwent with his wife and three sons. Originally a singer-songwriter, he combines freelance writing with working as a Careers Adviser. In 1989 he received an Eric Gregory Award.