The World Is Too Much With Us

I’ve been quiet for a long time. When my head is full of what’s going on in the world, it’s hard to get into the frame of mind for a poem. I’ve tended to sit and brood, between marches, on what’s to become of us. I feel it is imperative for poets to speak about the state we’re in, but when I try to, it doesn’t necessarily make for my best poetry. It’s not emotion recollected in tranquility. However, other poets are doing better than I am. Bill Herbert and Andy Jackson have managed to collect a good crop of poems about Brexit, Austerity, Trump, and the Far Right in the latest chapter of New Boots and Pantisocracies where I was honoured to have a poem included.

It’s a year since my pamphlet came out and I’m grateful for two reviews from people who actually understand exactly what I tried to say. London Grip‘s James Roderick Burns gave a very kind review and Rennie Halstead in Sphinx talks about my interest in the outsider, here. I’ve still got a few copies of the book, by the way, if anyone wants one.

In many ways, poets are always outsiders. It’s easy to notice things when you are observing them rather than being involved. It’s easier to notice the uniqueness of places and people and attitudes when you come from a different place. I remember being forcibly struck by Glyn Maxwell’s poem, ‘Come to Where I’m From‘, for a witty and poignant evocation of a place that maybe few people feel is poetic (Maxwell comes from Welwyn Garden City).

I’m still writing about places; Teesdale, where I am living now, and lots of places from my past. Since moving north five years ago I’ve noticed the huge difference between the way that poets in the Thames Valley talk about their home towns and the way Teesside poets talk about theirs. I’m a bit obsessed, right now, with what makes England, and what makes the English. That’s just a reflection of the times we live in.

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