Portrait of an Artist

Poetry, Prose and Paintings
by Terry Miles

Painter, 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."

The photograph that started all the trouble:
"Me walking on the South Downs," writes Terry. "There's nothing sexual about the photograph—just a naked male figure—but 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 see: www.terrymiles-artist.co.uk.
You can also address inquiries and expressions of support to Terry directly at: terrymiles.artist@btinternet.com. -Bob Guter


Nice Men

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.

"Anxiety, or 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

Mind you,
it tastes so good—
after the first shock
of it, spurting out like that,
I mean,
filling one's mouth,
unexpected like.

Well, what did you expect?
Did you think nothing
would happen??
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
fast enough.
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 Bush Road—
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 Terry Miles




BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/July 2001