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The hidden life of poets

Poetry: at first it’s all around us, in nursery rhymes, ‘children’s poems’, at primary school, even in some form on children’s television. We learn to speak in rhyme, which is patterned language, and it makes up our earliest games. It’s…

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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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