Sue Vickerman begins with the observation that Advent was at one time a dour season of prayer, fasting and penitence. In today’s world Vickerman senses a distinct melancholy hanging over the grey rainy islands of the United Kingdom during December’s darkening days. She observes that there are those who simply enjoy the telly and the partying, while others try to ignore the whole thing, but says of herself that she spends the festive season running an emotional gamut – an experience which she believes many others must similarly undergo. Underlying the commercial clamour, says Vickerman, is a nostalgic sense of loss; a wistfulness – not for how it used to be in Christmases past, but for how it might have been and never really was.
Adventus: the coming. These twenty-five poems reflect on Christmases past and current; on lives lived; on endings of years and of relationships; on beginnings, anxieties, hopes, and an uncertain future.
Though these poems are perennials, they also serve as daily readings starting from the first day of December.
What has been written about Adventus:
…each turned page is a door into a new and fresh surprise
an excellent piece of work
a tour de force
The Yorkshire Times
Comments on previous collections: “salt-drenched – I loved it” Sandi Toksvig, “piercingly topical… A glorious achievement” the late Magnus Magnusson, “passionate, laconic poetry” UA Fanthorpe, “Excellent” Bloodaxe’s Neil Astley.
Buy a copy of Adventus from Bookshop.org here.
Suki has relationships: dissatisfactory relationships, inter-cultural relationships, relationships that end. She is nostalgic for lost loves; is, in mid-life, wistful for the unborn, for the family she does not have, for what might have been. Suki comes at gender with a post-feminist eye. She is gay. She is straight. She lives alone and blogs into the night about art, life, death, her search for a raison d etre and her quest for love. Following her first collection KUNST (a raw take on the model s subjugation by the artist), this second collection of poems shows Suki visiting dark places but, until now, returning to the light.
Water washes through this volume linking Suki and Sue s poems then pulling away like the tide, separating them again. Both halves of the book resonate […] most of all with the needs and dreams of love. Water brings love but also dislocates and severs… An invigorating book, the reader never sure of his footing
The sadness of aloneness and separation; of wanting and not wanting; not being wanted… Thin Bones is poems of separation, of shared emotions, of grief and loss so keenly felt. In Wish Bones there is more examination, an objective view of loss, leaving and injustice.
Vaguely drunk, sharply observant, Suki takes her creation Sue Vickerman in hand once more…
Buy a copy of Thin bones like wishbones from Berlin Butike here.
“KUNST – a raw take on the model’s subjugation to the artist” Poet and writer Suki took up life-modelling to make ends meet. This, her first full length poetry collection, is the result of her experiences – each poem illustrated with pencil and charcoal drawings of herself by sixteen artists. Additionally Suki has accrued an international online following for her serialised autobiographical trilogy at sukithelifemodel.co.uk. Part I, ‘A small life’, is available both online and in print, fully illustrated in colour with images of Suki by more than thirty artists.
Suki’s poetry and prose provoke discussion: she breaks life-modelling taboos, refering to a sexual dimension in the dynamics of the life-room. Her aim, she says, is honesty. The themes she returns to again and again are loneliness, death, the search for a raison d’etre, and the perennial quest for love. (Suki is the fictional creation of writer Sue Vickerman.)
Essential reading for anyone who ever uses a life model.
Annie Tempest, artist and sculptor
Suki’s writing is as merciless in its superb hard imagery as the artists’ eyes are when they scour her. This is stark, hard-hitting wordplay of extremel;y high quality. It leaves you feeling as raw, asn naked, as any goode-bumped life model. The images work well intercut with Suki’s brilliant text – and re-confirm my deep uneasiness about life-drawing.
Char March, poet, playwright, author
Good luck to Suki as she steps naked into the river of contemporary writing.
Michael Mackmin, Editor, The Rialto
The poems in this first full-length collection, range over birds and the world of human relationships with a direct and uncompromising gaze.
a breathless, breathtaking collection, nature au naturel: poetry refracted in the prism of her beacon eye, as effortless as a fulmar’s flight… Birds given tongue and tangy taste… This riotous palette of colourful, heartfelt, sharply poignant, piercingly topical experience [is] a glorious achievement.
the late Magnus Magnusson
…passionate, laconic poetry of a distinguished kind… These poems aren’t really about birds. And yet they are. Painful, witty, loving, long-sighted – I seem to be running out of adjectives. And no wonder.
the late UA Fanthorpe
…poems [that] remind those of us who write only in lists how much we need rhythm in our lives… A reminder of what really matters in this hectic world.
Buy a copy of The social decline of the oystercatcher from Berlin Butike here.
Sue Vickerman has received three Arts Council (UK) awards for her poetry, novels and short stories. Shag, the first of her four poetry collections to date, was published during the half-decade she spent living in a Scottish lighthouse. This is a new Naked Eye edition.
Keenly observed birds punctuate the poems in this collection – all strong, straight-talking narratives. They are windows on worlds where various degrees of unsatisfactoriness are revealed. Birds or worlds, the essential mode is “watching” and Sue Vickerman’s gaze is uncompromising, direct and wide-ranging; her language dense and gritty, at home on the edge of things.
Linda France, editor ‘Sixty Women Poets’ (Bloodaxe)
Edgy, elemental, tender, [these poems] help me to understand more about what it is I’m doing, being human.
Sue Vickerman’s poems are always aware of the elemental picture behind the detail, of earth, air, sea and fire. They are salty, stony, fierce, loving, and sometimes sharp. These are poems that will ruffle your feathers, full of acute glimpses of the underneath of things.
The late Julia Darling
Buy a copy of Shag from Bookshop.org here.
In a multi-cultural community somewhere in the North, teaching is not the only thing that occupies the mind. Special Needs features a vibrant cast of teachers and dreamers: adults every bit as in need of self-discovery as their teenage charges and offspring.
A tour de force about family, race, sexual identity, lesbianism and life at the chalk-face, Special Needs is an always intelligent, often hilarious and unerringly humane debut, filled with larger-than-life but thoroughly credible characters, from an accomplished and mature voice.
An exciting debut novel… vivid characters in a multicultural Yorkshire setting… I recommend it.
Debjani Chatterjee (Longman, Harper Collins)
Touched a nerve… every teacher should read this book.
Nosheen Akhtar ex-teacher, Keighley, UK
This is a novel to set one thinking not only about relationship identity, but about community, culture, and self-definition; it is a novel, ultimately, about the challenging call to live honestly, and the enduring value of personal integrity. Therapy doesn’t get better than this.
Buy Special Needs from Berlin Butike here.
Suki is a struggling writer and poet. A bit anorexic, slightly suicidal, she turns to life-modelling to make ends meet. A Small Life is a sad, funny story about loneliness, the search for love and the quest for meaning, told through Suki s diary notes and the drawings and paintings she snaps on her mobile.
Edgy and intimate, this innovative collection of prose, poetry and life drawing is rich in its variety, and taboo-breaking in its honesty.
Suki conveys the mood of her reverie so well with a good pinch of the sardonic, while letting us know what it is like to be seen… A lovely book.
Susie Orbach, psychotherapist, author Fat is a Feminist Issue
The prose and poetry of Suki’s autobiography A SMALL LIFE bring true life to the world of the model: her secret longings and sad delusions vividly told; her awareness of the physical discomforts and trials of arresting a moment in time; her stilled life in the constant flux of life around; her imagination ranging from wild sexual fantasies through to homemade flapjacks.
Doug Binder, Painter in Residence, Dean Clough, Halifax
The best study of a solitary being I’ve read.
Steve Huison, artist, actor (The Full Monty)
Buy A Small Life from Berlin Butike here.
Or read it online here.
The second part of Suki’s autobiographical trilogy opens a year on from the end of her long-term love-affair with Ilka. After another doomed fling with a dissatisfactory male Suki is alone again, still earning her keep as a model for a motley crew of artists, still doggedly pursuing her quest for literary success.
With lonely middle-age looming, the ongoing failure to get her novel published brings her back once again to questioning her raison d’etre. Plagued more than ever by self-doubt and loneliness, Suki’s soldierly determination wavers. Then random events, both exhilarating and calamitous, change her hoped-for future…
Suki: an ingenious creation – a truly original take on the ‘triumph of the human spirit’ theme. I love the fact that in spite of everything she is fundamentally strong, getting through the hard times and back to champagne and ambition. Her impact will be major… a super read… So funny!
Buy Two Small Lives from Bookshop.org here.
Or read it online here.
At the opening of this final part of the trilogy Suki has escaped to Berlin to try and pick up the threads of her former seventeen-year relationship with Ilka. Despite Suki’s recent ‘success’ as a writer (the modest publication by a small press of her first novel) she must still work as a jobbing life-model to make ends meet.
From what has Suki ‘escaped’? Well – the trauma of a stillborn child, followed by a distractingly riotous fling with dominating control-freak Tamara: zany and fun – but a BDSM relationship didn’t look anywhere near as safe as…
So will Berlin be the answer? Resorting to the manageable familiarity of a passionless relationship in order to write? Having to work for artists (German ones this time) to get money? Has Suki attained her dream? The pot of gold? The realisation of her raison d’etre?
And if so then why, with her literary agent keenly awaiting her next manuscript, is it proving impossible to get down to it?
If Berlin is not Suki’s final destination, then what next?
Buy True Life Nude from Bookshop.org here.
Or you can read it online here.
Twenty Poems by Kathrin Schmidt, Arc Publications (2020)
This bilingual (German / English) chapbook of 20 poems makes for an exciting introduction to Kathrin Schmidt’s work. Thanks to Sue Vickerman’s daring translations, we are able to appreciate Schmidt’s irrepressible poetic style as she ranges across the themes of gender, identity, the body, eroticism, her own personal history and language itself.
…when an exceptional translator is an exceptional writer in his or her own right, as is the case with poet-translator Sue Vickerman, the experiment takes on a new aura, advancing transcultural dialogue and culture itself. Andreea Iulia Screedon, Asymptote Journal
Buy Twenty Poems from Bookshop.org.
It’s Over Don’t go there. short stories by Kathrin Schmidt, Naked Eye Publishing (2021)
These are tales of small, damaged lives that unfold towards sometimes deadly ends. Desolate or downright funny, often they are about women: single and lonely, or ordinary and kind, or who neglect their children, or whose children abuse them. Immigrants, the homeless, the sexually abused, the suicidal – these and other aliens populate a ‘left behind’ region where a sense of powerlessness holds sway. Gay, straight, or transitioning, most of Schmidt’s characters are jobless, and mostly middle-aged, or else very old: a senile pedophile grandmother; another whose stinking belches accompany the wartime trauma she hands down to her offspring, for they too must suffer.
Kathrin Schmidt draws us alongside people limited or trapped by circumstances imposed on them, whether by the socialist regime or the one that came after, her stories set variously in the twilight hour of the German Democratic Republic and the post-1989 decade when the GDR was subsumed into the Germany of today. All is not bleak, for adversity generates human kindness and heart-warming responses, even love affairs and comedy. But Schmidt makes her point.
angry and laconic… Kathrin Schmidt at the height of her powers
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
…powerful, bitter, tender, and as always, humour that bites
West Deutschland Radio
tragic and witty, perverse and savage, grotesque and elegiac