A Career in Accompaniment

A Career in Accompaniment is Alex Reed's debut poetry pamphlet.

A Career in Accompaniment is a pamphlet of love, loss and surprising lightness. Based on Alex Reed’s personal experiences, these poems witness what it is like to care for a lover with severe illness and to live with a future where there is no “escape without damage”. Spare and accessible language of the everyday reinforces the emotional power and resonance of “all the falling” but also recalls moments of great tenderness, when “the world lit in her eye”. This poetry of “fragile places” is very intimate yet very universal.

“Reading these poems, you are struck by their striving for truthfulness – as if that might be the key to making sense of a seemingly senseless situation, a life no one could prepare for. And yes, truthfulness seems to work – opening into absolute presence, careful observation of detail and moment-by-moment tenderness and courage. Here you are listening to a generous, unassuming voice, drawing our human vulnerability and capacity for endurance closely together, with space to breathe and gather what threatens to scatter. Restraint and discretion characterise the poems as well as openness – a hard-won but lightly-worn congruence. ‘A Career in Accompaniment’ reminds us what poetry makes possible.” Linda France

R.R.P. £5.50

Currently out of stock. 

Working in collaboration with photographer Keren Banning, Alex Reed's second, longer, V. Press pamphlet These nights at home follows on from A Career in Accompaniment, voicing the loneliness and isolation that follow bereavement, and the predicament of trying to begin anew. 
A sample poem from A Career in Accompaniment can be found below:

A clearing

Inch the door a fraction further, look
for the tell-tale rise of her sheet,
my vigil of four days now. The doctor
said Just keep going. I try

to hold her presence like a breath
in this room; tread softly as I can,
like a walker in the woods who sees
a deer in a clearing. Until a twig

snaps underfoot. She is far away
and I am here – I picture her
waking, startled a second, then her eyes
drink me in; her thin arms, bare breasts,

her hand behind my head, I dream
of a lover, dream of the lovers we were.


"We fell in love in particular with Alex Reed's pamphlet ‘A Career in Accompaniment’ about looking after his wife - quiet poems, carefully crafted, with enormous emotional heft and dignity. "

Michael Marks Award 2017 Judges

'Alex Reed's A Career in Accompaniment, about caring for a dying lover, is similarly strengthened by its narrow focus. "Ghost" captures the way illness not only hijacks the present, but ransacks the future: Reed composedly voices the feeling of "missing the one you love, / even while they are with you". Like The Parkinson's Poems, Reed's pamphlet confronts human degeneration while drawing out how strange it is that we become intimate with our own mortality in the most banal of settings. In hospital with his lover, possibly for the last time, he carries her "Do Not Resuscitate" instructions in a "white plastic sack".'

Leaf Arbuthnot, Times Literary Supplement, 8 Dec 2017

“Opening with the prose poem “Things illness stole”, we find Jan, prior to diagnosis, at the cusp of their relationship; rather as Les Murray’s poem “It Allows a Portrait in Line-Scan At Fifteen”, does the much-needed job of untangling his son from his autism, this offers a vibrant ten line picture of a woman, completely charged and changed by the title’s significance. The magnitude of their loss is caught in the final, soon-to-be-ironic words – “Everything’s going to be alright” – happily lipsticked on her mirror. Ominously, these words hang over a deliberately disproportionate whitespace.”

“never flinching in its pained and painful observation”

“V Press demonstrates that same integrity”

“Alex Reed can write.”

“In his final poem, he hymns…

Remove yourself.
Take these things –
pencil, prayer-wheel and blade
to fashion an opening.

In A Career in Accompaniment, Alex Reed has done all that, with dignity, courage and respect to his partner, their situation and to poetry.”

The full review and analysis by Beth McDonough in 
Dundee University Review of the Arts can be enjoyed in full here

"Alex Reed has skill and sensitivity..." A detailed review of Alex Reed's  'A Career in Accompaniment' at Sabotage Reviews.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alex
    Very moving poem. I'm the Eric who goes to Throssel and talked to you last Sunday!
    I'll get round to buying yr booklet soon!


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