Latest Poetry News From Gill

Time passes quickly!

By Gill Ward

Greetings for the New Year, which I note is already a 12th of the way through.

Something about getting older is that time goes more quickly. Time is relative though and much has been written about how if you are waiting for something and looking forward to it, time is slow, but if you are enjoying yourself it disappears in a flash.

And isn’t it irritating – as soon as the 1st January is over the ‘back to school’ shop signs are out and any minute now it will be Easter eggs and bunnies.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if once the shortest day was over they’d be telling us about Christmas. ( I nearly said ‘trumpeting’ – how Freudian! )

Philip Larkin put it in his usual poetical style:

I’m terrified of the thought of time passing (or whatever is meant by that phrase) whether I ‘do’ anything or not. In a way I may believe, deep down, that doing nothing acts as a brake on ‘time’s – it doesn’t of course. It merely adds the torment of having done nothing, when the time comes when it really doesn’t matter if you’ve done anything or not.

Philip Larkin: Letters to  Monica

The above quote is from the book of letters to his life time friend and lover, Monica. Although Larkin presents as a misogynist, these letters show him in a much more tender light. Worth a read. I did request the Library buy a copy but never heard back, but if it isn’t there you could request it as they should be able to source it on inter-loan.

I am getting around to introducing a marvellous book I have been given.

  • Six poets Hardy to Larkin an anthology by Alan Bennett. On the front cover Simon Armitage describes the book as ‘full of wisdom and wit’. This observation will come as no surprise if you are familiar with Bennett’s work. I am loving it!
  • In the book Bennett chooses six English poets which derives from a BBC Channel 4 programme Poetry in Motion. Several poems from each poet and a short introduction to the poet and a comment before each of the poems. Do check it out at Paper Plus as well as being a wonderful book to read it’s a fabulous book to share with others. I will put in a request for our library to purchase it.

Snowing and quaking

Last night I came upon this quote from A. A. Milne. I thought I could use it.

“Hallo, Eeyore,” said Christopher Robin, as he opened the door and came out. “How are you?”
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

However I was astonished to wake up and hear Kaikoura had experienced a strong earthquake last night.

Thoughts are with them from all New Zealand I’m sure.

Don’t mention the weather!

Plenty of wit and wisdom from Oscar Wilde

Yes, around here it has been a dismal summer. I try not to talk about the weather and declared many years ago that we must not talk about it.

As Oscar Wilde said, Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Once someone was here moaning about the weather, and my daughter, both shocked and terrified ,looked at me saying We are not allowed to talk about the weather in our house.

So I wrote a highly offensive poem about it.

Here are the first couple of verses – apologies if you are from the North of England where I worked and lived for two years.

We are not allowed

to talk about the weather

in our house.


In our house

we do not talk about

the weather


The weather

is all they talk about

in the north of England


In the north of England

talking about the weather

is all they do

.. and so it went on for several more verses I must also add that there were some very enjoyable aspects of living there but I was probably influenced by the heady 18 months I had spent in London a couple of years before when it was swinging.

My poem is humorous in its entirety because I do subscribe to the view that humour takes the edge off difficult situations.

Peter Bland – an excellent New Zealand poet

I like to include New Zealand poetry in my column and this time I will point you in the direction of Peter Bland’s poetry. Bland has been around a while in the Wellington scene where he has lived and worked many years both writing and acting.

He was one of the leading lights in the birth of Downstage Theatre as well as being part of the mid century N.Z. Literary scene. I recommend his 2011 collection Collected poems 1956 – 2011 pub. Steele Roberts, Wellington

I particularly loved his small book, Loss, 2010 a series of poems written about the death of his wife, again published by Steele Roberts. Such a moving book, with so much love and grief in a volume of only 36 pages.

And now (drum roll…) a couple of clichés – a shout out and a hats off to Roger Steele for his continuing support of New Zealand poets and poetry. We are indebted.


Well folks I can’t resist it! One more from Robert Frost.

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.

Good reading and writing if you have to stay indoors,