A collection of experimental poems based on the films of Luis Brunel & Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie & Rene Clair, Man Ray, Hans Richter and Andre Arsenyevich Tarkovsky. In the depictions of the four Man Ray films, mainly written in Open Field form, the poems play with words and syntax which are mottled like the films themselves. The poet has experimented with language, invented neologisms and found significance in the shapes and sounds and dissection of words much like the Acmeists in 1910s Russia who wanted poetry to be more like architecture, building and angling words, moving and shifting syntax. Some of the lines use compressed words, reflecting the compressed nature of the film. While conducting research for a radio play about Lawrence Durrell, the poet came across a paragraph describing his visit to watch films when he spent time in Paris with Henry Miller, Anais Nin and company at the Villa Seurat in the 1930s. The first, a four-page open field poem, is on Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1928), ending with some factual information on the demise of the actors. The second poem depicts Erik Satie and René Clair’s’ Entr’acte’ (1924), and is in itself a collage. other poems follow, some with a contemporary adjunct.


I have had the privilege of being acquainted with Wendy Holborow's poetry for a number of years. She has never failed to surprise and inspire me with the quantity of work that she produces and its consistent high standard. Wendy's has an alluring poetic style and a strong morale compass which directs her towards interesting subjects. 'Ghosts before Breakfast' is an experimental poetry collection based on the films of Luis Brunel, Salvador Dali (a personal favourite), Jean Cocteau among many others. It has been written in an accessible and stripped narrative. Wendy's experience as a stage writer becomes apparent in this collection. Her depictions are concentrated, profound and compelling. The collection is not simply a poetic recreation of the films, the poetry is laced with Wendy's charismatic perspective and poetic charm that makes her previous work so striking.

I thoroughly recommend this collection. Five stars!

Rhea Seren Phillips








hallucinating scenarios                          

easy time shifts                

a film                      with no plot



chronology disjointed            

the narrative flow of a dream logic interrupts                  



Freudian free associations                            

suppressed human emotions

no rational explanation of any kind would be



                                there is no dog in the film




man sharpens razor blade

balcony            cloud slices          moon

eye-squeezing moment                                     


a woman’s eye-ball                  is sliced

and vitreous humour                        

                            spills                       out



eight years later                                       

a second man

dressed in a nun’s habit             

rides his bicycle –


cut             to woman                              

framed in     window


the man falls         off                            

hits his head                          

                 on the kerb

she rushes to his side                     

fails to resuscitate                              



takes his clothes 

                          assembles them                                              

in order on her bed as if he is

wearing them                           

sits demurely contemplating

                             the clothing



another man appears

at her door                                     

has ants crawling

from a hole

                           in his palm


the couple watches                     

an androgynous woman

poking a dismembered                              



with a stick                                             


bystanders gather to watch

                                           (Dali himself in the crowd)


a policeman questions her                        

removes the hand             

disperses the crowd


she stands in a trance                           

                                                            in the middle                 

of the road

cars scream past                    

                        one flattens her




Continued ...