The Rashomon Syndrome (Bloodaxe, 1998)

The Rashomon Syndrome, Pamela Gillilanís fourth Bloodaxe collection, was published to coincide with her 80th birthday and explores the idiosyncratic, chameleon quality of memory and recall, deception and self-deception.

It title of the book was borrowed from the classic Japanese movie Rashomon, directed by Accra Kurosawa in 1950. The film explores the details of a crime, recounted in the personal testimonies of four witnesses, each giving an entirely different version of the same story, a different but equally plausible truth. The film gave life to the term “the Rashomon effect”, referring to the complexities of human nature, the nature of truth and the philosophy of justice.

This was something that fascinated Pamela and in The Rashomon Syndrome, her last published collection, many of the poems explore the value of memory, its contradictions and delusions, the way it effects the present and the sadness of its fading and eventual loss.

The Swimmer

Suppose on the night of the party
when he bedded me down – sixteen,
high on excitement and wine,
he had not gently put away my hands,
gone, after just an embrace,
to sleep elsewhere in the house.
There were never promises.
We swam and walked together,
lay long in summer thickets
adrift in each other’s arms,
kissed in the scented smoky air
of Odeons and Astorias.
I’ve no photographs
to help me towards his image;
but I have it the way it was –
the grace of movement, the humour,
the curved mouth that, above all,
fostered that year’s adoration.
There was no sudden schism, no hurt,
Each on scarcely perceptible tides
turned towards other consummations.

Pamela Gillilan

From The Rashomon Syndrome

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All Steel Traveller

All-Steel Traveller

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Rashomon Syndrome

The Rashomon Syndrome

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