The Occupant


By Jane Draycott

cover image of The Occupant

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In galleries and living rooms, on trains and trams and buses, mysterious scenes are briefly illuminated, their occupants caught in 'some small act' or dream - in the National Gallery a gardener steals part of a still-life canvas to replant in his own garden; on a winter train a commuter invokes their braver, doppelgänger self as a fire-fighter; in an abandoned sanatorium the grand piano dreams of former days and waits for a returning patient. At the heart of these imagined scenes the long title poem 'The Occupant' draws on settings proposed but left unwritten by Dutch poet Martinus Nijhoff in his great 1934 modernist narrative 'Awater'. Draycott's new poem, following in Nijhoff's formal laisse monorime footsteps, traces The Occupant in a search through the streets of a stifling summer city, where 'at tills/ and kiosks police post notices,/ Missing: Have you seen this wind?'

The Occupant