Friday, October 08, 2010

National Poetry Day and that

I had a happy National Poetry Day in London yesterday, reading to a group of attentive sixth-formers and recommending they read Lisa Jarnot, Peter Didsbury, Sean O'Brien, Al Purdy and Andrew Marvell (Selima Hill would have redressed the gender imbalance to some extent, but I ran out of time), reading Tim Dooley's striking Imagined Rooms and a scattering of Auden including the spectacular verse sections of The Sea and the Mirror (Caliban's prose is exhausting, and anyway my train got in), and writing a gush of four or five poems after three months of prose only. And at least two of them may not be fatally mannered, and at least one of them may be any good.

As I was in the area I trotted round to stand outside my uncle's old flat on New Cavendish Street, the top floor of Westmoreland Mansions. The name was picked out in a green and white mosaic above the door below an ornate facade of red and London brick, and finally the two dormers at the top. The windows of the right-hand one were flung wide open – letting in the air to what had been my uncle's dining room. I stood and indulged my liquid memories of that inaccessible place, because dulce et decorum est, not pro patria mori but just to think of it, if by patria we mean one's past and loved ones. (That sentence unravelled disgracefully, but sometimes that's the way.) The pub opposite was being gutted by builders, but the one a street away which was I think the one he frequented was open. But I didn't go in, which I almost regret, but I'm off the booze at the moment and that seemed to disarm me; instead Weasel and I went for an excellent curry on Drummond Street.


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