Old Blue Car

Old Blue Car brings together 23 of my own favourite poems, all published for the first time elsewhere.

Here’s the title poem.

Old Honda

Old blue car, what if you could fly? What if,
one sunny afternoon as you slept off your latest speeding fine
in the shade of the station wall,
your dreams reminded you how?

Tired of Tesco’s car park and the twenty minute
Keighley run, wearied by all the rights and lefts,
the endless pantomime of the traffic lights,
it wouldn’t take long to weigh things up:

the moss on your nearside window
and what it might mean; the boys who snapped your aerial
and could come back. Next month’s MOT;
our shared fear of the word ‘scrap.’

Better, perhaps, to just take off
on the Addingham bypass and head for the open skies
however empty their promises. Shed your tyres
one by one, like hot shoes, above the fields of cows.

This reading of the poem is by Clare Redcliffe in a recording made at York Street Music.

What other people have said:

‘There’s a laconic relish about Sutter’s best work that makes it always readable.’ John Lucas, Stand Magazine.

* * *

‘It is not unheard of for people to have a pet name for their cars, and even to credit them with their own personality.

Ilkley author Mandy Sutter’s beloved Honda Civic is known simply as Old Blue Car, and she has taken her devotion a step further by writing an ode to her vehicle, Old Honda, which appears in her enjoyable new poetry collection.

“Tired of Tesco’s car park and the 20-minute Keighley run, wearied by all the rights and lefts, the endless pantomime of the traffic lights”…“Better, perhaps, to just take off on the Addingham bypass and head for the open skies,” she writes in Old Honda. Called Old Blue Car, this is a beautifully written collection of poems, covering everything from lost love to chickpea casserole. Mandy delves into the minutiae of everyday life and draws on fond memories to create verse that is both funny and touching.

Ghost Notes pays tribute to her father’s music-making: “In his day, Dad played a mean guitar, cramming each bar with shuffle-notes”…“Now his car horn speaks, his pocket swings with a strolling beat to the chopped chords of pound coins”, and In the Next Bed – observations of a hospital ward, written during her time as Writer in Residence at Leeds General Infirmary – she writes: “In the next bed, she’s had her stitches vertical, like a zip. In the next bed, I heard his dying words; ‘I’m not going home again, am I?’”

In 19 Mortimer Place, Mandy remembers an old friend’s family home. “My childhood friend, who’ll lose a daughter to leukaemia, sleeps in a pink room, damp hair plaited in rags. Her younger brother who’ll marry his first girlfriend and take a year out of work to write a novel sleeps under a blue ceiling hung with model aeroplanes.”

And Roger is a bittersweet ode to her tennis hero, and a lament of a relationship that has lost its spark: “Roger Federer came to my bed last night and said he was in love with me”…“Roger was willing to take me away from our terraced house with the problem chimney and the low mains pressure and all your failings and maybe some of my own.”

She ends with eight short poems touching on various aspects of the human condition in just a few words. “With many rows of sharp teeth, its dim-eyed bulk not gone, but circling,” she writes of grief.

In another she writes: “At least he said, you’ll get a poem out of this. Yeah, I thought: a short one.”’

Emma Clayton, writing in the Telegraph and Argus.

What I think

Kettlebell Press is another name for Mandy Sutter Press. I self-published this pamphlet without any fanfare, simply to have an affordable (£5) booklet of my ‘greatest hits’ that I could sell alongside my prose books when I do readings. I knew all the poems were decent enough, as they’d all been published in literary magazines and anthologies. They were also poems I was particularly fond of myself.

Plodding along like this, Old Blue Car has sold well and so far has outstripped all my other books in sales. I see no reason to stop reprinting it.

My first poetry pamphlet, Permission to Stare, was published by Slow Dancer Press and is now out of print. My second pamphlet, published by Smith/Doorstop Books is available at https://poetrybusiness.co.uk/product/game/