The Tall Lighthouse

Todd Swift was born in Montreal, and has lived in Europe for

more than a decade. A graduate in Creative Writing at UEA,

he is a creative writing lecturer at Kingston University and a tutor

at The Poetry School. His poetry has appeared in many of the major magazines and he has edited many international poetry anthologies.

He has had four full collections published by DC Books in Quebec.

Seaway: New & Selected Poems was published by Irish press Salmon.

tall-lighthouse is proud to publish his first British collection.

mainstream love hotel


£8 64pp ISBN 978 1 904551 54 6

The poems in mainstream love hotel demonstrate the  generous poetic

talent of Todd Swift. They range from traditional poems of love and emotion

to the more radical and experimental poems at which he excels.

In this strongly cinematic collection Todd Swift artfully blends the cerebral with the erotic, unveiling the life of the mind with an analyst’s precision. Dreaming a delicate world easily beset or charmed by weather and always enhanced by music, these are finely woven, intellectual poems with a

dapper sense of style.                                                                   Emily Berry

Miyajima from mainstream love hotel


The orange character set in the sea

was a gate; the moon another lantern

over the mountain; the shrine out to sea

sailing for Hiroshima, light-anchored.


A monk bicycling in the frog-loud night

silent as Ozu's nothing; a face half-lit in ordered

lanterns. Altering day to night required a tidal

disposition, pouring selves


out to sea, returning as a candle;

the slight figure pure as anything lit

(water ladled onto hands at a shrine)

aspiring to abandon all that was mine.

Poetry London review of mainstream love hotel

Reading Todd Swift’s mainstream love hotel, moving from poems of love and emotion to more radical, experimental poems, is like having your eyes tested. The book asks us first to focus on formally constructed lyrics detailing identifiable episodes of an individual’s history, then on poems free enough to encompass the whole world in their field of vision. At such extremes of focal length, perception can get a little hazy. ‘Spider-Man 2’ is a Facebook-status-update of a poem which begins cheerily, ‘Sitting in the cinema with Sara, best date ever’. Meanwhile ‘Ice-shelf loss’ instructs:

              Kill a beer. Hunt a bear.

              Wear a pelt, pellet an appellate

              court; court an Inuit; cut a house of ice from a sneer.

Depending on the depth of your engagement with the experimentalist undertaking, these verbal refractions either illuminate or merely dazzle. However, at the point when the boundaries between the mainstream and the experimental blur, Swift’s poems become truly spirited and involving. ‘Green Girl in Vermont’ is a sonorous and spare elegy infused with the rose-tinted romance of his more immediately accessible work, its impressions endlessly re-readable:

              more like a song

              than a singing,

              hardly a word spoken

              no vessels broken,

              no offerings or tokens

              slipped past the toll

              out on the road

              green as the knoll

              grass grown over her.

‘Lighthouse’ speaks directly enough about the need to ‘weather’ and ‘winter’ ‘the vertical storm’ like the lighthouse-keeper, but the lines ‘You shelve the green collection / as the parakeet screeches again’ drop in just the right degree of compelling yet fathomable wildness.

Subjects and settings reappear throughout. There is much summer swimming, singing and dancing in the book, many cinemas and bands. There are enough variations in his repetitions to assure us that this approach is skilled and deliberate – the first poem in the book, knowingly placed, is called ‘Mirror’. We’re shown something clearly: ‘My brother and his wife come down to the lake / late, vegetarians with their barbeque’ (‘Laurentian Lakes’) and at the same time through a looking glass, as in ‘BBQ’: ‘Sparks, wild hair / have done something to the air / that wasn’t there before’, and the effect is to underscore and deepen our assimilation of the collection. Look for its inclusion in the Good Hotel Guide.

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