‘Do go; these are very special occasions.’ Bridport Review
Talk with readings by Graham Fawcett
Thursday 27 April 2017
Tickets: £10 or £25 with buffet dinner to follow
Please phone Sladers Yard on 01308 459511 to book.
There is time enough and to spare for all of us. Edward Thomas wrote all his poetry in the last two years of his life. He was only 39 when he died on the battlefield in France on 9th April 1917 and yet he is one of the best-loved poets of nature and the English countryside, writing before the great war yet sounding utterly fresh and of the moment.Edward Thomas is probably most famous for his poem ‘Adlestrop’ about a small country station. ‘Yes, I remember Adlestrop’.
Graham Fawcett writes, ‘I was recently asked by someone whether my Edward Thomas Night would be “gloomy”, given Thomas’s ongoing fight against depression. On the contrary. His is a wonderful, yes even inspirational, story of how something uniquely stirring and beautiful and true can be expressed when the good counsel of the poets and writers one loves is listened to and made part of one’s daily bid for head-held-up survival, while the dark feelings within are being resolutely mined for their ore. His poems are the result, and they are so often full of light – the light of day, the light of transcendence – because nature is everywhere in them.’
“When first I came here I had hope,
Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat
My heart at the sight of the tall slope
Or grass and yews, as if my feet
Only by scaling its steps of chalk
Would see something no other hill
Ever disclosed . . . ”
…wrote Thomas on moving to a new home in Kent, in lines which catch his wonderful lyrical voice as a poet of nature. But might that ‘what’ and that ‘something’ also be the poetry he had discovered he could write, thanks to the prompting of Robert Frost ?
Walter de la Mare said Thomas’s aim had been “to express the truth about himself and his reality”. This throws light on how poetry suddenly surfaced in him: it was there all the time, in the glorious pastoral eloquence of his prose in praise of place and nature.
“Gently as the alighting of a bird, the sunlight dropped among the tops of the oaks, which were yellow and purple with young leaves, and blessed them”, he wrote in The Heart of England. When he says of W H Hudson that ‘what he reverences and loves is the earth”, he is talking also about himself.
Edward Thomas was a devoted lover of the West Country. Among dozens of pilgrimages here, In Pursuit of Spring is a wonderful account of his journey by bicycle from Clapham to the Quantocks . . .
“First soldier, and then poet, and then both/, Who died a soldier-poet of your race”, declared Robert Frost in his tribute poem to Thomas. “I knew”, wrote Frost, “from the moment when I first met him at his unhappiest that he would some day clear his mind and save his life”.
GRAHAM FAWCETT has lectured or led workshops at literary festivals throughout Britain on reading and writing poetry. A highly entertaining lecturer, writer and educator, he has been a tutor for The Poetry School since 1997, devising and teaching new courses on poetry past and present from around the world. Previous to that he wrote and presented radio programmes about literature and music on BBC Radio 3 for many years.
Graham Fawcett’s talks explore leading poets, their lives, the political and cultural environment in which they wrote and, most of all, their work. The programme is two 45 minute halves with an interval followed by an informal and delicious buffet dinner served by Sladers Yard’s celebrated Licensed Café. The £15 buys a full main course from a choice of seafood, free-range meat or vegetarian dishes. A wonderful selection of wines, desserts and cheese are available à la carte.
Please phone 01308 459511 to book now!
Talk with Readings by Graham Fawcett
Thursday 29 June 2017
Tickets: £10 or £25 with buffet dinner to follow
‘When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom’ is one of the most memorable titles in all poetry, and it helps to remind us how early Walt Whitman was. Born in 1819, he wrote this deeply moving work in a double aftermath: within days of the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865 and of the end of the American Civil War. The poem appeared in the 1865 edition of Whitman’s signature collection and masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, ten years after its first edition in 1855.
With that book, Whitman had, at a stroke, revolutionised American poetry: what it could say (poets could sing about what they felt it was like to be alive as never before), how it could look on the page (long-limbed, rhapsodic and free), and how it could sound in the reading ear (orchestral, psalmic and incantatory). Many poets since, on both sides of the Atlantic, and several composers too, our own Vaughan Williams and Delius first among them, have found new senses of direction, and solace for the spirit, from this outstanding voice.
Please phone 01308 459511 to book your tickets now.
A wonderful review of Graham Fawcett’s Coleridge Talk: John Pownall in Bridport Review.
A review of Graham Fawcett’s fascinating lecture on John Donne can be found here.
Review for Graham Fawcett’s talk on T.S. Eliot on 22 January 2015:
“We [the audience] were more than happy to stay the course, stunned and astonished in equal measure. Stunned by the breadth and depth of Fawcett’s criticism, astonished at our luck to be living miles from a university yet participating in what, to all intents and purposes, was a post-graduate lecture, presented with immaculate complexity by a master of ceremonies par-excellence.”
Elaine Beckett, Bridport Review