In this innovative series of public lectures at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, leading contemporary poets speak about the craft and practice of poetry to audiences drawn from both the city and the university. The lectures are then published in book form by Bloodaxe, giving readers everywhere the opportunity to learn what the poets themselves think about their own subject.
Carol Rumens's three lectures cover the poetry of Philip Larkin and Derek Mahon as well as form and music in the work of a range of contemporary women poets:
'Forget What Did? Philip Larkin's Poems of Lost Childhood'
What made this strange, sometimes unattractive personality a powerful poet? Putting aside the politics, this lecture draws on autobiographical material as well as early poems to suggest a possible imaginative source in childhood trauma. It also traces the younger Larkin's interest in Jung, Lawrence, Auden and others, and examines the famous ëtwo voices' of his maturity, the demotic and the literary.
'Solitude and Sociability: An Introduction to the Poetry of Derek Mahon'
Bleak North Antrim coastlines and a sense of isolation contrast with the warm intellectual companionship of other writers and artists often conjured in Derek Mahon's work. This lecture takes an overview of his themes and forms, including a look at the conversation he conducts, via his many dedicatory and epistolary poems, across the time-zones.
'Line, Women and Song'
Have women poets brought distinctive approaches to the music and metre of contemporary poetry? Adrienne Rich, Marilyn Hacker and Ruth Padel provide some of the material examined. Can there be a politically radical verse in traditional form? Can the English language and ancient, imported forms and metres still fruitfully work together?