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Where once I was intimidated by Seamus Heaney’s brilliance, these days I am inspired by the poets I love — W. N. Herbert, U. A. Fanthorpe, Sean O’Brien, Kathleen Jamie, Don Paterson, John Glenday. They show me the possibilities of poetry.
Chris Arthur writes about the childhood mentor who inspired his lifelong love of nature — in particular, of birds.
'It's only now, when I start to really pick and choose, that I find that the writing I find inspirational is often to do with water, islands, and the sea.'
'When I first heard a poet read, in a chemistry laboratory at Newcastle University, he was Ted Hughes; his gruff Yorkshire voice threw me onto a frosty moor. I could see horses. Hear horizons.'
A change of place, finding a new muse, pausing on a London bridge, all can stimulate the writer's imagination again, says John Greening. From a sexual potency operation for W.B.Yeats, to Clive James’ terminal illness, there are many ways to trigger inspiration.
'You are mourning something in a quite different, less tangible category of experience. What you can't come to terms with is that the year 1955 has gone. Suddenly. Irretrievably. Inexplicably, and forever.'
Should poetry be about something — other than itself? asks John Greening, considering some famous examples of works that have defied this question, as well as others which have dared to be topical, even at the risk of becoming irrelevant over time.
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