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Occasional Verse: Christmas Poems

Sometimes people ask of a particular poem: Did it have to be written? Is this a necessary poem? They are wondering if there was sufficient pressure for the poem to become meaningful in the assumption that validity is based on…

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Poetry and the Joys of Syntax

One evening, the bell rang Softly around the port. Is that poetry? If it is (highly debatable!), it has little poetic quality. It reads like prose cut up into lines. Somehow, it has a prose rhythm, and there’s little attention…

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On Cynicism

I’d like to say a few words about a subject I don’t often see explored in writing on contemporary poetry, in the hope that perhaps some of the sentiments expressed will chime with others. This year I was lucky enough…

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The importance of place

Where do you write your poems? We’re fascinated by the places where poetry happens, the idea that inspiration might not just be a moment-in-time but in a moment-in-place. The Guardian’s regular feature on is popular for just that reason: there’s…

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Poetry and Basketball

The latter half of my youth revolved around hoops, orbiting wide rings, listening out for the net’s swish, attempting to make more fluid, more instinctive, ‘mo’ butter’ the complex body geometry of knowing instinctively how far you are from the…

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Poetry: What’s Gained in Translation

It was Robert Frost who first said that poetry is what gets “lost in translation”. This week, with the gaze of the literary world trained on the South Bank and its ambitious Poetry Parnassus project, bringing together writers from all…

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Poetry Parnassus

Poetry Parnassus begins today at the Southbank Centre, London. By the looks of the online programme, there are many amazing events taking place and I’m only sorry that I’m hundreds of miles away from it all. But, if you’re in…

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