Since Procrustes chopped off the legs of his guests to make them fit the beds, the hotel has been a site of fear, fascination, fancy, a world in itself offering new possibilities and experiences. What’s behind the hotel façade? This book explores some of the more unusual aspects of the ‘hotel experience’ and mixes these poems with others which explore both darkness and redemption. Hotel Moonmilk is an exotic, yet intimate, collection of strikingly original, often eccentric poems, that tell stories about people and places, from China, to Africa, to Ireland. For Hillier, history is a living presence, and ecology is a chief concern. These are heartfelt, clever, and entertaining poems that show how all our lives are shared under one roof, the sky.
Sheila Hillier was appointed Professor of Medical Sociology in 1992. She is currently Visiting Professor at the Chinese University Hong Kong and Professor Emeritus at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Her poems have been commended in The National Poetry Competition, and she won the prestigious Hamish Canham prize from the Poetry Society in 2009. Her debut collection was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. She was chosen by Sasha Dugdale to appear in The Best British Poetry 2012.
Sheila Hillier writes with a great clarity that is also mysterious; we can understand exactly what she is saying and are thus free to wonder about and to enjoy the tantalizing deeper meanings and resonances. The themes and settings for her narrative-based poems are often surprising but they are vivid and engaging. What’s more, the poems themselves are tightly shaped and crafted. – Mike Bartholomew-Biggs
See the piece from Poetry Review on this collection here:
Hotel Dragon Park
You can sweat and sweat and cool yourself and sweat some more
into the dirty, forgiving soup that is Bar One plus One.
In the wet season the potted bamboos perpetually drip.
They like it here and so do I, although it is a grubby place
where someone has undignified them – used their pots as ashtrays.
The air is warm, damp with deep tropical wet-warmth
that enters bones, lodges there and won’t come out.
Here, on old leather seats under a tattered baldequin
which bulges, black streaked when it rains, we feel the storm’s hot wind
battle the guardianship of our sturdy fans; these hum non-stop
a deep contented sound – I think I’d like to know them
far more than foreign correspondents, pink-faced engineers
with tiny girlfriends, or some wiry ex-pat the colour
of parchment. Usually, these people leave me alone:
but we are, all of us, in league, feeling that suddenly like the weather
everything might change: a waterspout might rear up in the filthy floor,
a food-fire starts, the canopies and umbrellas, shaken once too often
fly off, free to get even dirtier, and end in the gutter, while we drink beers
brought to us from every continent, the breweries of the world.