Written by poets who live or have lived in the area, many of the poems are set in Reading and the Thames Valley and make reference to poems and writers associated with the town over the years: Coleridge in flight from his university debts, Rimbaud’s association with a language school in King’s Road, Oscar Wilde’s ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’, Jane Austen’s only formal schooling, and Dickens’s many visits to the town.
The anthology is also an essential introduction to reading poetry. Each poet has provided his or her own account of their relation to the anthology’s theme, their inspiration, their muse. The poets represented are Paul Bavister, Adrian Blamires, David Cooke, Jane Draycott, Claire Dyer, John Froy, A.F. Harrold, Ian House, Wendy Klein, Gill Learner, Allison McVety, Kate Noakes, Victoria Pugh, Peter Robinson, Lesley Saunders, Susan Utting, and Jean Watkins. Specially commissioned illustrations from Sally Castle round off this refreshingly approachable collection.
Peter Robinson’s many books include Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2003), The Look of Goodbye (Shearsman, 2008) and English Nettles (Two Rivers Press, 2010). He was awarded the John Florio prize for The Greener Meadow: Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (2007). He is currently Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Reading.