An Invitation To Join In
In sharing this Poetry page with friends and well-wishers my hope is to stimulate a dialogue about poetry. I invite you to submit, via the Contact page, a favourite poem which you have read so that we can share it here.
Warmest thanks go out to Sue Wilsea for the following comprehensive and encouraging report on a recent event during Hull's City of Culture year:-
Phil, Maurice and Me
I've always been slightly intimidated by Hull University's Brynmor Jones library. When I first came in the early 70s, it was the largest University library in Europe and even now it dominates an ever expanding campus. So when, one afternoon earlier this year, I arrived there to give a talk on Maurice's poetry to the University's reading group I did wonder if the title of my talk, Phil, Maurice and Me should have had a little more gravitas! This was compounded when the first talk of the afternoon, an excellent presentation on Philip Larkin, had intellectual weight and slides, as well as a lovely youthful presenter.
However, reminding myself that this wasn't about me and my insecurities but about Maurice, I launched into my talk which dealt with Maurice's life, his local connections and, most importantly, triggered a discussion on the selection of poems that the audience, numbering about 40, had been sent prior to the day. Hopefully I conveyed my passion and enthusiasm for his poetry which I think manages to blend so beautifully and skilfully the ordinary with the profound; which is accessible yet never trite; which doesn't shy away from political and social comment; which contains wit, humour and self-deprecation. After my talk, there were questions and some useful clarifications made by Maurice's family members who were present. I think it's fair to say that most people had not read Maurice's work before and that most were now keen to read more. There was applause. Quite a lot.
Later I realised that in one sense this was about me because how could it be otherwise? What you read shapes who you are and how you respond to literature, but particularly poetry, says something about you at a given time. When I did English at Hull, all those years ago, most of my studying took place on the fifth floor of the BJL. I read what I was told to and responded in a number of prescribed ways. As a teacher, I then perpetuated that process and, often, as with Larkin, my responses came from the head rather than the heart. But now, as a mature ( ie old ) person, I am liberated and not just by virtue of my bus pass! Something in Maurice's poetry touches me at this phase in my life and I am privileged to have had the opportunities to try and communicate some of that feeling to others, whether through performing The Remarkable Mr Rutherford with Felix Hodcroft or by participating in events such as this one.
That afternoon I walked away from under the shadow of the BJL, literally and otherwise.
Sue Wilsea, September 2017.
Posted on Wednesday 6th September 2017.
James Daly sent in the above from New Zealand. I'm hoping that James will send one of his favourite poems to share with us, but I also plan to include a Baxter poem in my autumn postings. Meanwhile I thank James Daly for having told us from where in the world his response comes; I live - here in my home at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK - for the day when all who share this website will wave the flag of their homeland, or the country they make their home, from which they write. Please, dear reader, make that day today. Readers might also like to know that my granddaughter Katy, who has the know-how to set up and manage this website, does the twice-weekly postings from whichever of the world's fashion capitals her business, STORY mfg., takes her to. Maurice.
Comment posted on Wednesday 9th August 2017.
Cheering to hear from Pearl Maese. Thank you, Pearl, for taking the time to get in touch. In return I should tell you that sometimes, posting a poem on the website, it feels like I'm simply baying at an unseen moon; but your kind message reassures me, as others have done, that I've found a gap in the clouds and even the moon is possible, so I return to howl into another unknown. You are my proof. Do please keep connected. Maurice.
Comment posted on Wednesday 2nd August 2017.
Grace Frankish, requesting Sylvia Plath's 'Poppies in July'.
Thank you, Grace, it's always encouraging to be told that a poem has hit the spot!
Comment posted on Sunday 23rd July 2017.
- Isn't this a most rewarding, humbling endorsement to receive! Thank you very much indeed, Ketan.
Comment posted on Wednesday 12th July 2017
Any/all of these, dear reader, plus your own favourite, would indeed be eagerly welcomed aboard.
Comment posted on Wednesday 28th June 2017.
Marta's choice will be posted soon.
Comment posted on Wednesday 7th June 2017.
Comment posted on Saturday 13th May 2017.
Comment posted on Saturday 29th April 2017.
You too can read 'The Cow' over at the Poetry page.
Comment posted Wednesday 26th April 2017.
Geraldine is Secretary of the Upper Wharfedale Arts and Literature Society. The reader was Barrie Rutter.
Comments posted Wednesday 29th March 2017.
Leah's chosen poem is gratefully accepted and stands in line for posting asap.
('The Waking', requested also by John Davis, is due for posting shortly.)
A submission from Lauren Perry :-
Lauren's eye-catching subject is 'I have been eating poetry', which, she tells us, is also the title of a favourite poem, but goes on to say:
Lauren's excellent response on the importance of poetry speaks perfectly for me too; her chosen Szymborska poem will follow soon.
Kalyb's comment left the talking to T.S. Eliot and the second part of the first of his Four Quartets, 'Burnt Norton', which is also now standing in line for posting.
The haiku, normally a three-liner of five/seven/five syllables, is of course so brief that I can't resist sneaking it in here ahead of the posting queue; this is the English version Monica sent:-
'Napped half the day;
Kobayashi Issa (translated by Robert Hass)
For all of these, my thanks, Maurice.
Comments posted Wednesday 22nd March 2017.
The tranquility of Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK, was shattered last weekend when this website's link was leaked on Reddit, bringing to my room kind responses faster than the welcoming committee (of one) could handle. Thank you, thank you kind leaker! And thank you, dear readers, for caring. I have now sent acknowledgements to all, but unfortunately two were each returned 'undeliverable' although I tried twice to send emails to Aditya A, and John Davis. Those who kindly sent favourite poems to share should now know of their safe receipt; they are: Alexander Erbil, Danielle Weisel, Iván Espinosa, Kalyb Prince, Lauren Perry and Noah Zino - my thanks to them all. Beyond these, here are the latest comments:-
Comments posted Saturday 18th March 2017.
- On Malcolm Lowry:
John Alderton adds to Wikipedia this link for further reading: http://evelazarus.com/malcolm.lowry-1909-1957/
On the Poetry page:
- Briefly, but equally welcome:
There are more responses to follow shortly. Warm thanks and best wishes to you all, Maurice.
Comments posted Wednesday 15th March 2017.
- Sue Wilsea, on the Alderton/Collins readings, and on an afternoon together in Scarborough.
"I bought your books through amazon and must say how much I am enjoying reading them...my copy of 'Slipping The Tugs' has in it the letter you sent in 1982 to Mrs. Whitely, headmistress of Paisley Street School, asking to look over your old Hull school!...Have enjoyed listening to the first two recordings of John Alderton and Pauline Collins. I read two of your poems to the local Poetry Group where they were well received."
- Peter Watson, after finding this website.
" 'Maurice and the Expanding Website'. Apologies, [this] sounds like the title of one of those books I used to read to the children...I have kept a weather-eye on your site and see it growing steadily... and I shall pass the word along among my mates. It's good to watch this thing grow!"
- Alan D'Arcy, a regular reader.
"...like it, Pauline and John together and the poem comes to life - brilliant! Love these readings, your poems enjoy being read!"
- Terri Allen on 'Lessons in Age'.
Comments received for the poetry readings by Pauline Collins and John Alderton. Listen to them on the Readings page.
"I have listened to them both, and will do again; they are brilliant!"
- Terri Allen
"...you will be pleased to know I have linked you onto our Kaspar Kent Atelier Archives Recordings info page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaspar/"
- Roger Allen
"...enjoyed listening, rather than reading...I could sit back with eyes closed and imagine it all...Fabulous!"
- Kathy Sumnall, Canada
"What a delight - Katy so clear and unruffled, both Pauline and John bring your poems vividly alive...they were both a joy to listen to."
- Shelagh Devereux
Comments posted Wednesday 30th November.
"The repetitive, 'circling' nature of the villanelle makes it ideal for poets to worry at something which vexes and nags away at them - who genuinely want to explore rather than just vent! The repeated lines can become metaphors for things much broader, deeper. One of the qualities of this poem is that the worrying away, the repetitions do NOT discover a 'pat' answer. After nineteen lines, the reader finds s/he has been led around the maze and then thrown (gently) back out of it, to answer for her/himself the question: if not food, culture, warmth, comfort, what is it that truly feeds children? We know the answer really, the poet quietly, cunningly implies..... or do we?
Thank you Carol and Maurice for sharing with us a villanelle that's far more than an exercise in poetic ingenuity."
- Felix Hodcroft on Carol Rumens' A Case of Deprivation (Star Whisper, Secker, 1983, London)
Comment posted 15th September 2016
A welcome email message was received from Terri Allen after she had read Carol Rumens' poem A Case of Deprivation, saying,
"I had to investigate the villanelle to understand the pattern that I was reading and the history of the form. I love the rhythm of the poem and to me it seems to be a progression of a life/relationship. And it is moving and poignant for that reason".
This in itself is a wonderful appraisal from one who doesn't consider herself "qualified" to offer comment; but there's more: the following day a second message arrived,
"It dawned on me this evening, as I was driving along, that the villanelle talks about a shelf of books, a little meat; feed their minds and feed their bellies; but what about feed their hearts and souls? Children need to 'eat' love too".
The emotions stirred by a poem read a couple of days earlier were still active and colouring the reader's life. Could there be any better proof that the poem had 'worked' - and was still doing so!
It would be good to receive the thoughts of others who might be emboldened by Terri's welcomed initiative to write in.
Comment posted 8th September 2016