I loved it studying English at school. I remember being cast as First Voice in Under Milk Wood in the school play when I was about twelve and being mesmerised by the language; then falling completely for Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’. I did English at uni, and a relative gave me the Complete TS Eliot to take with me: I was blown away by Prufrock. I did my uni dissertation on Edwin Muir: spent a summer on Orkney, in the run-up. And then I lived in my second year in Palmers Green where I wrote:
Stevie Smith spent all of her years but three
in Palmers Green. I shall spend none but one.
I love clear, accessible, deep, insightful, emotionally rich poems. Poems which speak to me. These might be written by anyone from Chaucer on! I like them because they make me feel less alone. One line that has always comforted me is: “I was much too far out all my life / And not waving but drowning.”
Once I’d been published myself (as a poet) I knew how much I appreciated reviews of my work. So, it’s a kind of virtuous circle, I think, for me: a way of passing it on. But it’s also enjoyable and satisfying in itself. Poetry reviews form and operate in that strange room between the poet’s words, and my own. I like spending time respectfully in that space.
PS Happy birthday to TFP. Love the fact we were born on the same day!