About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

30 Day Poetry Challenge - Days 4 to 6

Day 4: A poem that disturbs you

'Meeting the British' by Paul Muldoon

We used to take the kids swimming on a Saturday morning. During the respite of the car ride home, I'd sneak a look at the Review section of the Guardian, in particular the Saturday poem. I got so caught up in this one that the last line made me jump.

Day 5: A poem that reminds you of someone

Stanza 72 of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1st ed)

My primary school headteacher, Mr Harris – Sir to his face, Pop behind his back. A bit growly, but dedicated to the education of his working class pupils. He wrote the first two lines of this stanza in my autograph book when I was 11. Even then I felt its regret.

'Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!'

Here with illustration by Dulac

Day 6: A poem that reminds you of somewhere

Years of childhood church-going grained me with the language and cadences of the bible and those wonderful, mystical hymns I was permitted to stand on the pew to sing.  How I loved their chariots of wrath and dark paths on the wings of the storm! Perhaps the greatest feast for my four-year-old imagination was John Bunyan's 'Who Would True Valour See' - the unsanitised version, of course, here sung in hey nonny nonny, two-sheets-to-the-wind fashion by Maddy Prior.


  1. I tracked down Muldoon's reading of 'Meeting the British' on his website. It all sounds so (faux) peaceful until that inescapably pointed word "smallpox". Dulac fits Fitzgerald fine! I only remember one discerning comment a teacher made in a yearbook of mine, an English teacher when I was 14: "I see Queen Mab hath been with you." And now Maddy Prior! She seems to give even the old Puritan Bunyan a merry twinkle.

  2. Yes, it really does lull you into a false sense of security. And oh, the ignominy of British history ... :-(