8

Six train journeys to poetry and home again. A favourite moment is always passing into Newcastle on the train, crossing the Tyne, with all those bridges and all those those arches. A stroll through a handsome town up to the venue. The poet seems to have created a world/atmosphere around herself which her words inhabit, expand, fill, colour and explain. As ever with the best though it was about the spaces, the silences. The control. The things that allow the words to breathe. She said was worried by the apparent obsession with dead animals in her collection but when she talks about the slowly rotting swan that she saw on her daily walks leaving a “cathedral of fine bones” in its “personal architecture of death”…and that was only the preamble to a poem. Or the “living shovel” of the badger. Listening to her explanations for how some of the poems came about was fascinating; the “pages and pages of her reflections on the Fall of Lucifer” before realising that it was an obsession her own shadow that was overtaking her thinking, resulting in the poem “Shadow”. Her recitation of “Village” gave the poem shape and life that had escaped my reading it on the page and now informs how I read it.

I have seen several very good poets read/recite; I’ve seen none better than Alice Oswald.

The red wine and reflection on the journeys home were rich and deep.

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