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 8th October, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm: Dante (2) – Manchester Buddhist Centre
I want to look in detail at Canto 32 and the first half of Canto 33 (lines 1 – 90) of Dante’s Inferno and more quickly at Canto 34.
The discussion will be fully accessible to people who haven’t read Dante before but people coming to the session will need to bring the passages I’ve mentioned. You can find them online by going to the Princeton Dante Project at http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/index.html , clicking Enter and then selecting Inferno Cantos XXXII, XXXIII and XXXIV. The translation given is my preferred one, that by Robert and Jean Hollander. However, you’re welcome to bring other versions instead.
In these Cantos Dante visits the lowest pit of Hell, a colossal lake of ice in the centre of the earth, where he finds the souls of different traitors and, at the very centre, Lucifer, the greatest of all traitors. In Cantos 32 and 33 he meets Count Ugolino and hears the story of his death. His meeting with Ugolino is one of the most famous and dramatically powerful episodes in the whole work.
The first 34 cantos of the Divine Comedy describe Dante’s journey down through Hell (Inferno). The next 33 describe his ascent through Purgatory on the other side of earth (Purgatorio). The last 33 bring him to Heaven and an astonishing vision of God (Paradiso). After looking at Merwin in November we may return to more selected episodes of Dante in the New Year.
Saturday 12th November, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm: W S Merwin – Manchester Buddhist Centre
Details to follow