‘Do go; these are very special occasions.’ Bridport Review
‘Outstanding’ – John T
‘Graham Fawcett has a marvellous knack of opening up a poet’s life and instantly taking you on a colourful voyage through their life and work. Very illuminating indeed…’ James Crowden
William Wordsworth’s Life and Poems
Talk with Readings by Graham Fawcett
Thursday 7 December 2017 6.30pm
Tickets: £10 or £25 with buffet dinner to follow
Please phone 01308 459511 to book now!
Graham Fawcett gives a spirited performance of extracts from Wordsworth’s finest works, telling the story of a life astonishingly much more impressive and interesting than many people may expect.
If William Wordsworth has come to be thought of as Wordsworthy, as though he always had the face of a sober older gentleman who just happened to have a decent poem about daffodils and a strange-looking closeness to his sister in his distant past, this proves the impoverishment of feeding on crumbs from biography’s sumptuous table and not reading the poetry at all.
The true worth of Wordsworth can be grasped by seeing him as a man of action. His record as man and poet until at least his mid-thirties is captivating. At the ages of 20 and 22, he was in France during the Revolution, was active politically and fathered a love-child. Before he was 30, he had become at least half of the driving force and vigorous inspiration for the greatest revolution in poetry that England has ever known. It was he who helped Coleridge get started on his ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. That his sister Dorothy helped Wordsworth write and live and be is beyond doubt.
On the page he is a man of elemental and fertile stamina: his vast autobiographical masterpiece The Prelude is one of the most beautiful, engrossing, accomplished, sustained, expansive and invigorating poems in our, or any, language. It is among the finest examples ever of the grace-giving power of nature, the recoverable buried treasure of memory, and the utterly engaging companionability of commentary as he makes space for us to walk beside him.
The Prelude‘s accounts of crossing the Alps and climbing Snowdon make it so much harder for us not to go and do them both for ourselves, and look sharp about it. His famous stealing of a boat under cover of night and taking it out on a lake is pretty contagious too:
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light.
What happened next is one of the most deliciously haunting moments in all poetry.
Wordsworth’s absolute devotion to his beloved Lake District is a luminous celebration of the vital spirit of place and how to express deep gratitude for belonging there. What is more, Wordsworth’s at-first-sight-formidable output is embraceable as we walk and climb, stop, look, listen, breathe and feel with him everywhere he goes; and that very act of being in his company becomes empowering of the heart and mind to be in the world and in our own remembrances more fully than ever before.
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 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