The Book of Evenings (2003, 77 pages)
Listen to Tuesday Night At Emile's
The Book of Evenings came about through a startling realisation one night while I prowled the quiet rooms of my bachelor pad... at that very moment, behind the neat facades of the homes on my suburban street, a whole range of stories would be taking place. Where I was pacing alone, my neighbours were possibly getting ready to go out for some Latin dancing (carmen and cisco). Their neighbours might just be discovering what thieves wear on their hands to eliminate fingerprints on the front door (socks to tell no tales). Over the road, a father was reminiscing about his little girl, now sixteen and gorgeous in her mother’s makeup and setting off for the high school ball (katy’s scrubbing up). And the woman in the next street...
... has been through his pockets
through his wallet
looked at the collection of receipts
read the scribbled note
on the back of a business card
made the call
heard the voice
(a pride in hands)
I found myself pouring out poem after poem on the theme of ‘what happens after knock-off and before bedtime’. Work, love, lust. Patterns and routines, changes and challenges. Anticipation, regret, loneliness, companionship. The idea of this theme still seems valid to me all these years later.
Tuesday Night at Emile’s, a 25-page story within the larger book, was originally a single poem that I wrote for The Book of Evenings collection. But the characters – the solitary gentleman diner, the fastidious maître d’hôtel Emile, the presumptuous and intoxicatingly mysterious woman in vivid red high heels, and the relationship between them all, seemed to demand something more of me. The piece grew. And grew. And grew. Eighteen poems later, and the small and safe world of the gentleman diner is turned upside down.
With The Book of Evenings I took great pleasure in writing to a coherent theme for the first time. Tuesday Night at Emile’s enabled me to create and give life to characters in a story-like setting, beyond the constraints of a one-off poem.
The writing experience was deeply satisfying for me, and I hope you, as reader, enjoy this wander through a myriad of twilights and evenings, and the fine dining of a visit to Emile’s.
Frank Prem, 2010