Portrait of an Artist
Poetry, Prose and Paintings
by Terry Miles
photographer, and performance poet Terry Miles became visually impaired
before he attended the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, where
he won the Bateson and Mason drawing prize in his first year.
After completing his education he was registered as legally blind.
His eyesight has deteriorated further since then, but he continues
to work in many media, aided by a computer with voice recognition
and zoom text.
I was impressed by the range of Terry's work when I first visited
his website, especially his forthright prose accounts of growing
up gay and working class in the North of England.
Soon after our initial correspondence Terry
reported that, "I have just had a couple of e-mails from my new
ISP telling me that some of the content on my website has to be
removed, starting with the photograph of me walking on the South
Downs. I don't think that the censoring will end there, England
being England. It looks like my website will be going off the net
for a while."
that started all the trouble:
"Me walking on the South Downs,"
writes Terry. "There's nothing sexual about the photographjust
a naked male figurebut this is England".
In light of that threat, it seemed more important
than ever to present a sample of Terry's work here. Because of BENT's
focus, I've chosen from a narrow range of content, but Terry's work
is more various than the pieces published here suggest.
There's no telling what the status of Terry's
website will be by the time you read this. Log on for yourself and
You can also address inquiries and expressions of support to Terry
directly at: email@example.com.
There are places I have been,
some are frightening places but most were O.K. places, some were
nice places full of nice people, some of the nice people were nice
men, rugged and gentle and some of the nice men were nice to me
and I was nice to some of the nice men and some of the nice men
were not handsome, some were more interesting than handsome, some
were more interesting than nice, some of the nice men said nice
things but didn't say anything interesting and some of the interesting
men weren't very nice but I forgave them for not being very nice
because they were interesting and they were only to be interesting
for one night, some of the interesting men were only interested
in my ass, if they were interesting enough I would let them have
it; some interesting men wanted my ass and didn't get it, I got
theirs and some interesting men telephoned me, later in the week,
to ask if we could do something interesting and sometimes it wasn't
as interesting as the first time, times are like that, variable,
like being fucked depends on how nice it is being worked up to it
and not just how one's ass is being ploughed, like it's nice to
turn over and change over and it's nice to kiss and hug before a
parting and it's nice to want another call. Some nice men like to
be fucked, they stand in semi private places, waiting, they wait
standing semi-erect for a nice man, sometimes a nice man comes along,
only he thinks the man next to him isn't very nice and walks out
without a flash; sometimes a 'not so' nice man walks in and you
nod and stretch a hand out to play with his cock, sometimes he has
a nice cock, interesting which makes up for him being 'not so' very
nice, and sometimes he is rough and ready, and sometimes you worry
and sometimes when you get back to his place he wants you to strap
him and you oblige because you want to give him a nice time and
afterwards, he wants you to fuck him, sometimes he wants to come
over your cock and because he has a nice cock, you let him; sometimes
he smells of manhood sometimes a couple days of hard work has made
his armpits interesting, sometimes it's balls, ass and toes and
it's a turn on, and sometimes it's not and you make an excuse and
leave. Sometimes a nice man wears deodorant and the nice man underneath
isn't there. Sometimes an interesting man who is also nice wants
you to do things you haven't done before and sometimes you are interested
and say yes and sometimes you say it's not your thing. Sometimes
a nice man is not so young. Sometimes you find out he's accident
prone and scarred and sometimes you don't have to feel sorry to
give him a nice time because he turns you on, anyway, and anyway
he wants it, you want it and anyway we all grow old.
Self Portrait With Extra Two Inches" Oil on Canvas 4' by 5.5'
I never could get a decent likeness.
Excerpt from an Interview
I started writing poetry when I was fifteen. I had two poems published
in the Hull University staff magazine, where I was a post-boy. Philip
Larkin [1922-1985, one of the foremost poets of the 20th century.
-ed.] was the librarian, he read them and gave me some words of
encouragement. The poems were terrible. I cringe when I think of
them now. My education was poor. I went to a dead-end school. No
G.C.E.'s, not even C.S.E.'s. At school leaving age the career's
officer came around and asked, "What would you like to do?" Whatever
suggestions you gave the career's officer replied with a question,
"Would you like to work in a factory or a shop?" And so my working
life began. In the North-East there was very little cultural life,
at that time, and if it was there it was difficult to find. If you
didn't come from a particular type of background, options seemed
very limited, and a lack of confidence made them appear even more
so. Britain was and still is a very class conscious society. There
are too many people doing one another favours, I think that is why
many people and artists find it difficult to get their breaks. Rejections
can also be very demoralising. I left Yorkshire when I was seventeen.
I wrote a few bad poems in London. In 1967 I travelled to India.
I wrote a number of things I called 'word dramas', most were unpublishable.
A handful were interesting because of the subject matter and source
material. Technology, Science, politics from cut-up press cuttings.
When I returned to the U.K. I wrote very little, nothing to write
home about! I went to a few poetry meetings which were more like
confrontation groups for psychotics. Slanging matches to fights.
Having something to say is one thing, being able to say it in a
prose style is something else. For the most part, I can express
myself but words still don't come easy.
Untitled, Oil on
Canvas 4' x 5.5'
The First Load
it tastes so good
after the first shock
of it, spurting out like that,
filling one's mouth,
Well, what did you expect?
Did you think nothing
Like you were giving head for sweet F.A.?
Or was it the way
it shot out?
A gush of thick, an' tasty cream.
Was it salty or a little bitter?
Or was it, that it seemed
And you couldn't swallow
And anyway, you didn't know
if you were supposed to.
Well, spitting it out like that,
reveals ingratitude, and more,
a lack of discipline,
untidy habits too.
And the over-flowing drips
running down your chin,
that's a give-away sign,
in broad daylight, straight
out of the closet.
I'm walking down the Shepherd's
it's late. I'm returning home
a French boy, mid-twenties, stops me
asks me for the time
"Gay? Are you gay?" He whispers.
"Yes," I answer.
"Suc, suc?" He asks, half in French.
"No, no, too dangerous." I answer.
"Maladie?" he enquires softly.
"No, no, too dangerous, bon jour . . ."
I'm fifty, over fifty
still, it's nice to be asked.
All text and images © 2001
BENT: A Journal of CripGay