On Jonathan Davidson and James Caruth

Having enjoyed reading Jonathan Davidson’s On Poetry (as much, probably, as Glyn Maxwell’s very different book of the same name) and A Commonplace, I very much enjoyed Ruth Yates’s interview with him, here.

I especially related to these sentences:

I would, therefore, describe my role as simply a writer who wants to be read. There’s a novelty. Not to win, to be praised, to be advanced, to be ennobled, to be deified, to be paid, even, but simply to be quietly read by those who might quietly find pleasure in such reading.

I couldn’t agree more with these sentiments. Yes, prizes and competitions help to oil the poetry economy, but as a poet and a reader there’s nothing more I aspire to than to be read and to enjoy reading.

In the summer, I was one of about 15 poets/readers who met up with Jonathan at Grindleford station for a walk round Padley Gorge, interspersed by Jonathan reading his and other poets’ poems, in the spirit of A Commonplace. It was a memorable poetry occasion and the sort of thing which ought to happen more often. After almost two years of Zoom readings and workshops, it felt very special indeed to get out in the open ait with like-minded souls to enjoy Jonathan’s drollery, fine poems and good taste in other poetry.

I felt much the same the Sunday before last when I went into Sheffield to see/hear Peter Sansom introduce two more Smith Doorstop poets, David Wilson and James (Jim) Caruth. I hadn’t read David’s collection beforehand, but I had read Jim’s. It’s a bit like going to a gig – if you know the songs before, then your excitement at hearing them performed live will be enhanced, not least because you won’t know what’s on the set list. Anyone who knows Jim will tell you that he has the most mellifluous Belfast brogue, so when he reads out his brilliant poems, it’s as rich a poetry treat as anyone could have. His collection Speechless at Inch is sensationally good, but no doubt, for whatever reasons, it won’t get nowhere near any award lists. No matter – it’s an immersive and enriching experience for any reader and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The recent online launch, with Jane Clarke also reading, is available here – Jim’s reading starts about 25 minutes in.

2 thoughts on “On Jonathan Davidson and James Caruth

  1. Hi Matthew,
    All the poets you mention in your post are top class, aren’t they? And you’re right, Jim’s reading really is great. I love his pamphlet, Marking the Lambs. Brilliant that he now has a full collection.
    Thanks for keeping me up to date via your blog!
    Julie x

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