Pebbles, poets and potatoes

I was musing on poets and publication as I walked the dog between Goring and Ferring at the weekend. This stretch of coast is not only home territory for two of the main characters in the book, Anne and Liza, but familiar territory to me and it struck me that a knowledge of place can be an inspiration and a secure base in both poetry and prose.

Poetry was especially on my mind with the announcement that Simon Armitage is to be the new Poet Laureate. An excellent choice in my view. A well rounded and grounded poet, a distinctive voice and one who will speak for diversity, will be public facing and accessible, and will use his stipend to contribute to the response to climate change. And he’s a Yorkshireman.

I’ve read much of his work. Not just the collections of poems but also his translations of the Arthurian stories and his books on walking and poetry. I found his approach to Gawain and the Green Knight particularly helpful when I was co writing the libretto for a choral piece on George and the Dragon and his narrative on walking the Pennine Way supported by poetry readings is inspiring ( ).

I’ve also been working on leading a session about Charles Causeley for my local group of poets. Causeley was described as the best poet laureate we never had and well respected by his peers despite using traditional forms of poetry which were out of fashion. A lifelong Cornishman, his poems burst with intelligence, passion and a sense of place.

So what have potatoes got to do with all this? A new independent bookshop has opened in Leatherhead and I chatted to Tom, one of the owners, about Blessed Assurance earlier this week. They have a focus on independent publishers and local writers, a vision for a bookshop which is a hub for readers and I will be working with them as the book comes out. And the name of the shop is Book Potato.

Tony Earnshaw

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