The bestselling novelist’s first verse collection is fuelled by rum enthusiasm and a debt to his favourite poetLouis de Bernières has always said he was a poet before – and after – being a novelist. He has said that this is how his fiction – including Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994), Birds Without Wings (2004) and the short-story collection Notwithstanding (2009) – began. But this is his first published collection, and it is a homage to Constantine Cavafy (or, as De Bernières calls him, Constantinos Cavafis) (1863-1933), the Greek poet who lived in Alexandria, author of Ithaca and Waiting for the Barbarians. De Bernières keeps a volume of Cavafy in his pocket, has read him daily for 30 years but admits to wearying of the relentless homoeroticism, the young men “always up to their necks in ‘sensual delights'”. Yet he praises the poems for their “honesty” about sexual passion and their “nostalgia… guiltlessness… and pain”.It might seem eccentric for a middle-aged, divorced heterosexual to follow in Cavafy’s poetic footsteps but the rum enthusiasm fuelling this collection endears it to the reader. De Bernières disarmingly refers, in his introduction, to the translated feel of his own poems (he reads Cavafy in English). …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books