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 10th September, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm: First look at Dante’s Inferno – Manchester Buddhist Centre
In this and next month’s sessions I would like to look at several episodes from Dante’s Inferno. I want to start with the famous Fifth Canto, in which Dante meets Paolo and Francesca among the sinners condemned to hell for lust. I’ll give a bit of general scene-setting context at the start of the session. Essentially, though, it’s a canto that can be approached as something completely self-contained. Please bring a text – any translation you happen to have or can get hold of. My own favourite is the one by Robert and Jean Hollander, and I’ll bring a copy. You can find it by going to the Princeton Dante Project at http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/index.html . When you’ve got to the gateway, click Enter. Select Commedia among Dante’s works, select Inferno Canto V, then download and print. You don’t even need to read it in advance, though it’s only 140 odd lines and you may well want to. I’d also like you to bring Inferno Canto III in case we have time left over after looking at V.
You can find a different translation of the same cantos by going to
but I don’t find this one nearly as readable.
Saturday 8th October, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm: Dante (2) – Manchester Buddhist Centre
Details to follow
Saturday 12th November, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm: W S Merwin – Manchester Buddhist Centre
Details to follow