Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems

Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems



About the book

  • Winner of the MARTY Best Established Literary Arts Award
At his death from AIDS in 1994, Derek Jarman, the pioneering, charismatic, and sometimes reviled director, left a legacy of idiosyncratic and iconoclastic films that stand among the most celebrated experimental works of the last century. Garebian brings Jarman vividly back to life in this life-affirming, cinematic, at turns randy and elegiac verse-biography.

About the author

Garebian, Keith

Keith Garebian studied English at Concordia University, Montreal (M.A.) and Queen’s University, Kingston (Ph.D.) before launching his freelance writing career as literary and theatre critic, biographer, and poet. The author of fifteen other books, including groundbreaking studies of Hugh Hood, William Hutt, Christopher Newton, and classic Broadway musicals, he has been published in over eighty international newspapers, journals, magazines, and anthologies. His previous books of poetry include Reservoir of Ancestors and Frida: Paint Me As A Volcano, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Relit Award for Poetry. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario.



Ancient Rome would have married you
to a glamorous boy, but England,
Cromwell scowling at its heart,
mows you down, thinning
out your kind, forbidding
you to fall in love.
So you are not loved,
reeking of lust and shame
at the abyss of a long descent.


heatbeat stronger than bed and walls,
mind counting other bodies,
imagining how skin catches light,
a parchment on which to write a life.
Even the largest canvas is smaller
than the hours in a spool of film,
which reads all the values of blue.


One night you thirsted like a lion,
too thin to stoop
at a drying-up pool in the Serengeti
on fire. You had lost your kingdom,
old king, staggering like a wraith,
palsied limbs shaking, mind ruminating
when the flames would end. Boils,
settling on you,
your mouth dry with curiosity
burned into it like sand.
Your body's fireworks aren't literary,
yet amid all the dryness a thirst
for creativity. How sweet
the brain works beyond
medicine, everything rising
in fire, rising, cresting,
how much fire in summer, how much glory in grass,
butterflies and fluttering flowers
consumed in light of an ordinary
world calling to birds.


Garebian skillfully foregounds a deep sense of longing throughout the three major units of his collection: in the opening "Prologue" section with a piece entittled "Five Versions of His Night With Gavin," for instance, where in its "Penultimate Version" we… >>

— David Jarraway

Biographies can be wonderful to read, but many can be quite dry, as if the author is simply laying out the facts of their subject's life and making a detailed prose chronology. They start from birth and continue to death.… >>

Broken Pencil

It is a cliche to say that what we fall in love with about our lovers is the reflection of ourselves in them, but this recognition serves as the basis for meaning in Keith Garebian's Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems.… >>

— Matt Rader Event

With stark, powerful phrasing reminiscent of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, Keith Garebian's recent collection of poems chronicles the life of British filmmaker Derek Jarman. Swiftly and skillfully this intriguing pathologizing tone becomes a beautiful and evocative tribute derived from the… >>

— David Bateman Xtra!

“Graced by degrees of subtle citation...powerful and highly original...” >>

The Gay and Lesbian Review, January-February 2009

Join us on Facebook Facebook Follow us on Twitter Twitter

up Back to top