Dominant Poets

We haven’t had a living poet dominate the English-speaking sector since Seamus Heaney’s death left a huge gap ten years ago. His 1995 Nobel Prize was one of many honours. I’ve been reading his “Letters” book that came out in December. It is page after page of wonderful writing. It gave me a lift in

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“How old is Rocky,” a friend asked of my black Labrador. “Eight,” I replied. “I suppose you’ll be getting a pup to replace him soon.” I hadn’t been thinking anything of the sort. But it’s been swirling in my head since. Rocky’s a pet, much loved by my wife and our extended family. Great with

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Poem from Nepal

I wrote this column in the “Garden of Dreams” in Kathmandu, a glorious day during the Hindu festival of Dashain. I’d come from 5,614m (18,400 feet), after completing the Annapurna Circuit, keen to transpose so many stories from memory to paper. We trekked eight days to reach High Camp, then out at 4am into an

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Anaphora, Anaphora

I was on a hike with three grandchildren when I asked them to stop. “I’m sorry,” I said, “you’ll have to speak up louder. I can’t hear you.” “Why not?” asked Luke. “I’ve only one hearing aid in my ear. The other one’s faulty and has gone back to the factory.” “What difference does one

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Saving a Life

I saved a life recently. I tell you this because CPR works. I often wondered about Heimlich who developed the Heimlich manoeuvre for choking. He used it once, in his care home, a year before he died. I bet he was thrilled. That’s how I felt about CPR, dozens of practices on dummies but never

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Unexpected Guest

Simon Armitage wrote “An Unexpected Guest” for the Coronation. The concept is an ordinary person witnessing history: She’s treated herself to new shoes, a window seat on the fast train, a hotel for a night. She’s been to the capital twice before, once to see Tutankhamun when she was nine and once when it rained.

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Hannah Linden

When novels are written in the first person, readers do not assume that the author is the narrator. It’s not like that with poetry. The default is the poet writing about the self, which requires honesty and bravery. The love poem is wonderful, the break-up poem can be cruel, ragged relationships are sensitive territory. There

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