My day started well this morning by finding out that eminent poet, critic and prolific reviewer Billy Mills had posted a review of The Evening Entertainment among other reviews on his always-interesting Elliptical Movements blog.
Whilst I hitherto wouldn’t have agreed that my poems are quite as formulaic as Billy implies, it’s useful to hear a viewpoint which challenges my own perception of my poems and which will therefore make me look again at how I construct them. It’s true that many of them are born from anecdotes, or eye-witness accounts if you prefer, but for poets like me who hold the philosophical position that poems should “come from an Ever”, as Stevens put it and Lucie Brock-Broido quoted from in her poem, ‘Still Life with Aspirin’, I would argue that’s inevitable. I like to think I’ve developed a more varied range of poetic constructs in the two years since my collection was published – I’ll see!
I’m grateful to Billy for his close readings, his encouraging words and his constructive and helpful criticism. It is very kind of anyone to take the trouble to review a book, and to do so objectively and intelligently as Billy does takes skill, generosity and a keen poetic sensibility.
On Sunday, I attended the readings of the Live Canon ensemble of three actors who performed the 20 poems shortlisted by Zaffar Kunial for the 2019 Live Canon Poetry Competition. Jim Scott performed my poem ‘Locarno’ with gusto. It was a lovely experience, and even though my poem didn’t win the grand prize, the afternoon, at Greenwich Theatre (replete with a bar named after Max Wall), was a real delight and honour.