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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Emily Berry’s Autobiografiction – answers on a postcard please!

I first discovered the splendid Pen Pusher Magazine when I was living in Budapest a few years ago. Like many a secondee I found myself pacing out the day on the internet and good that I did for I happened upon a literary rag that combines quirk and style and substance and fun. There are always gems between its covers, but I thought that Emily Berry’s poem Autobigraphication, which is published in the current edition, deserves a special mention, and a bit of a plug, so here it is:

We always breakfast with the biographer.
On day one I showed him my grapefruit spoon;
it has a serrated edge. My father gave him
a Mont Blanc fountain pen as a welcome gift,
but I think he was more impressed by the spoon.
‘It’s almost like a knife!’ he said. The biographer
is a coffee nut and I use this fact to bond with him.
‘Oh, Robusta,’ I say dramatically when I know
he’s listening. ‘You inferior bean!’ When we pass
in the hall I fling my arm back and say things like
‘Am I strung out or what! Time for another
caffeine fix, methinks!’ I am not allowed coffee
because of my nerves, but the biographer doesn’t
know this. Sometimes we sit up in bed comparing
moans. Mine are always loudest. The biographer’s
are hampered by his boarding school education
and the British flair for embarrassment. Sometimes
the publishers call. When he gets on the phone,
he sweats; afterwards the right side of his face is damp.
I like to monitor these subtle changes. Last night
my father found us touching legs. ‘Go to your room!’
he shouted. ‘You shabby daughter.’ ‘You worthless
excuse for a story,’ the biographer added. They played
cards to settle a debt. That day my mouth felt wetter
than usual. I asked the biographer to check. He used
his tongue. ‘This may affect the results,’ he said.


  1. Oh my, what a wonderful and hilarious poem! I loved the bit about the coffee and the grapefruit spoon. I am going to have to check this site out. Thanks so much for sharing this, Hannah!

  2. ¡Fantastico!
    What a way to play with words!
    Echoing ... thanks for sharing this!

  3. I love that first line; it really sets the poem.

    Ha! A 'Mont Blanc fountain pen. What's that? A mountain pen? Lots of powerful, crashing ink? :-)

    Thanks for sharing this!

    - Jill

  4. Zibilee, Aguja and Jillian - Thank you folks for reading this excellent poem and leaving a comment. I find it fascinating and thought that some of you might enjoy having a read.

    Happy poem searching