Welcome to my website, where you can read about my publications to date, my interests and experiences, my hopes for the future and my ideas. I use the blog to post poetry reviews and short essays on individual poems and collections. There is also a contacts page where you can email me. I’ve spent most of my working life as an English teacher at the Manchester Grammar School. Teaching has been a wonderfully stimulating and rewarding way of life, despite the inhibiting pressure of exams. Now I organise poetry discussion groups, work on the committee of Poets & Players to promote performances of poetry and music in Manchester, write reviews, read more widely and write more of my own poetry. You can link to the Poets & Players website here to see photographs and videos of our events over the last few years. .
Poetry School course in October and November:
Going Forward with the Sonnet
Part of the poet’s toolkit for 800 years – learn to write in this most versatile of forms.
Eight hundred years old, the sonnet as a form is very much alive. At fourteen lines, it encourages compression; at the same time, changes of perspective can open it out and give it a remarkable sense of spaciousness. Poets have been demonstrating its versatility, bending it to new purposes and reshaping its form from the beginning, never more so than in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We’ll look at sonnets of very different kinds, exploring both recent work (Paul Muldoon, Alice Oswald, Carol Ann Duffy) and older classics (Hopkins, Frost, Morgan, Yeats). We’ll use our discussion to stimulate our own writing and we’ll exchange feedback in class.
I should say that the lists of poets we’ll look at is indicative, not exhaustive.
It will run for five two hour evening sessions starting on Monday 17th October and ending on Monday 14th November and will take place in the Friends’ Meeting House in Manchester. The full cost is £90.
You can book by going to https://poetryschool.com/courses/going-forward-sonnet/
Free Saturday Poetry Discussions in the Manchester Buddhist Centre: We have been very fortunate to be offered accomodation in the library at the Manchester Buddhist Centre at 16–20 Turner Street, Manchester M4 1DZ. These are free events and open to anyone who wants to come, but people attending will need to bring their own copies of the poems we discuss. Poets we’ve read and talked about include Alice Oswald, Andrew Marvell, Anne Stevenson, David Constantine, Derek Mahon, Elizabeth Bishop, Fiona Sampson, George Seferis, Jane Draycott, Jo Shapcott, John Donne, Linda France, Michael Longley, Philip Larkin, Rilke, Robin Robertson, Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Tomas Tranströmer, T S Eliot, W B Yeats and W S Merwin.
Saturday 12th November, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm: W S Merwin – Manchester Buddhist Centre
I want to look at poems from Merwin’s last two books, The Moon Before Morning (Bloodaxe, 2014) and Garden Time (Bloodaxe, 2016). Both are well worth having, but The Moon Before Morning is my own clear favourite. If you have either or both, please bring them. Otherwise, you can click on the titles in my list to access the texts of the poems I most want to discuss. One link is to the New Yorker, one to The Guardian, one to Poetry Daily, and the others to pages on The Merwin Conservancy, his conservationist foundation which offers access to many of his poems. Anyone wanting to donate to the Conservancy will find a link on its home page.
There are other poems in Garden Time that I’d ideally have liked to discuss, like “Summer Sky”, “Pianist in the Dark” and “Still Water”, but I haven’t found them online.