An Open Letter to Nobody: The Duties of Poetry in 2023

It is five years since Alice Oswald’s last book was published, and although this is not an excessive time in the work of a poet, the interruption has been occasioned, of course, by the ‘lockdown’ of the UK for two years between March 2020 and April 2022 and the unprecedented changes to our society it enabled — which have not been halted with the revoking of its thousands of illegally-imposed regulations. It is my hope — it is my challenge, which I issue, so to speak, on behalf of the British people on whom these changes continue to be imposed outside of any democratic process — that in her next book of poetry, Alice Oswald will engage with the truth and lies that have been used to justify them, as so very, very few artists, writers and poets in this country have done.

Alice Oswald (born 1966), who on the fly-leaf of her books is regularly described as Britain’s ‘greatest living poet’ — the female heir to an all-male lineage of Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill — is both prolific and hugely successful. Eight collections of her poetry have been published in the last twenty-seven years, mostly by Faber & Faber, the Rolls-Royce of poetry publishers, and more recently by Jonathan Cape. In 1994, she was awarded the Eric Gregory Award for British poets under the age of 30, and two years later she was awarded the Arts Foundation Award for Poetry.

Her first collection, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, published in 1996, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, which is awarded by the Poetry Book Society, and won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. Dart, her book-length poem about the river that rises on Dartmoor in the county of Devon, went on to win the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2002. In 2004, she was named as one of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets. Her third collection, Woods etc., published in 2005, was shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection, and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. A Sleepwalk on the Severn, another book-length poem published in 2009, was commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council and won the Hawthornden Prize.

This was followed by her collaboration with the artist, Jessica Greenman, whose etchings accompany the poems of Weeds and Wild Flowers in a high-quality hardback book published later that year, and which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Memorial, subtitled ‘An Excavation of the Iliad’, published in 2011, was both a translation and paraphrase of Homer’s epic that was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize (her fourth time) and won the 2013 Warwick Prize for Writing, the first time it was awarded to a poet. It also won the Poetry Society’s Corneliu M. Popescu’s Prize for poetry in translation. Falling Awake, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Forward Prize, won the 2016 Costa Award for Poetry and the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize — on whose panel of judges she had sat the year before; and one of its poems, ‘Dunt’, was awarded the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

In 2017, Oswald was named as BBC Radio 4’s Poet-in-Residence. In another collaboration, this time with the artist William Tillyer, whose watercolours her poems were commissioned to ‘accompany’, Nobody was published in 2018 in another high-quality hardback, and again in 2019 in a paperback edition without the images. Finally, in October 2019, Alice Oswald — the first woman to do so — took up the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry, a four-year post that was created in 1708, and which has most recently been held by Geoffrey Hill, Paul Muldoon and Seamus Heaney, and before them by Robert Graves and W. H. Auden. Awaiting her lips is the poisoned chalice of Poet Laureate — perhaps most ignominiously held by Di-deifying Andrew Motion, with rather more success by Carol Ann Duffy, and most ludicrously by her predecessor at Oxford, the working-class Northerner turned Southern fawner, Simon Armitage.

This — of course and unfortunately — is how the publishing industry works in this country, particularly in the small market for poetry books: a publisher backs a winner; if suitably productive and popular the prizes follow; and with them the grants and commissions. As Alexander Dumas said, ‘Nothing succeeds like success’, and I don’t grudge Oswald hers. In fact, I have purchased all her books, even the expensive and hard-to-get hardback editions of her collaborations, so I must like her poetry — and indeed I do.

But in this least poetic of countries, poetry must dance like a dancing bear, don its knave’s cloak and cuckold’s hat and beg for pennies from its easily bored audience, and prizes have proved the best way to direct a listless and uneducated public to that dubious value we still call ‘poetry’. The world is thus, and we must live in it if we are to make it otherwise and perhaps better. The question I want to address here, however — and to address it to her in public — is not whether Oswald is worthy of such baubles, or even if her poetry is diminished by them, but whether she herself is a great poet.


Greatness and awkwardness

Now, I would imagine — both from reading her poetry and from the grimace she pulls when photographed accepting them — that Alice Oswald, while enjoying the income they generate, finds all her awards at the very least embarrassing — that most English of emotions — and certainly not as the confirmation or measure of her achievement as a poet, let alone her status as Britain’s ‘greatest living poet’. If given credence by those on whom it’s bestowed, I imagine this accolade is second only to the role of Poet Laureate in guaranteeing the death of the recipient’s poetic inspiration.

Oswald’s collections have always broken new ground in form, in the demands they make on the reader, and particularly in their performance. Although I’ve never heard her read in person, from the recordings of them she sounds and appears as a severe speaker of her poetry. The space around and between her words is rigorously observed in performance; and for myself, when reading her poetry aloud I try to honour the influence of that space in my delivery of her lines. So no, my judgement — my guess — is that Oswald is, as every poet must be, her own most attentive and severest critic, and holds back a sigh if not quite a sneer at the breathless endorsements that blacken the backs of her books.

What I want to address is not her status as a poet but, rather, the status of her poetry, and by implication of poetry today. I haven’t chosen her, therefore, as a whipping boy for the moribund state into which all art, and not only poetry, has fallen in this country. On the contrary, it is because I hold her poetry in considerable estimation that I think it best capable of responding to my interrogation of this fall. And also because it is her poetry, in particular, that has raised these questions in my mind and in conversation with others. I come, therefore, not to bury Alice Oswald but to praise her; and in that praise to lay down — if she will pick it up — a challenge, which I hope she will not regard as too vulgar, and, if she does, then at least to confess to a hope about what her next book will be.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with what is common to most if not all of Alice Oswald’s poetry, and that is what is commonly if not particularly accurately called its ‘content’. She is, if you like — although it’s a description she rejects — a ‘nature poet’, which is partly why she is hailed as the successor to Ted Hughes. Woods, leaves, stones, winds, birds, animals, fields, rural villages and occasionally the people in them, flowers, rain, stars, moonrise, sunrise, dewfall, rivers, estuaries and oceans are the warp and weft of her poems, although how she weaves them together is always changing, always new, between poems and collections.

Dart follows the voices of the river from its source in Cranmere Pool, high up on the moor, down to where it flows into the sea at Dartmouth. In Woods etc., ‘Tree Ghosts’ evokes the Early Mediaeval tree alphabet, Ogham, to commemorate those that have been cut down. A Sleepwalk on the Severn, like Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, is a sort of play for voices set on the Severn Estuary at night under different phases of the rising moon. Falling Awake ends with the Samuel Beckett-like poem, ‘Tithonus’, whose performance is timed to match the 46 minutes that precede the rising of the midsummer sun. While Nobody weaves the myths of Ancient Greece into the depths and shallows of the English Channel off Totnes, Dartmouth and Blackpool Sands. The landscape of Oswald’s poetry, like her bestiary, is composed of the world between the watershed of South Dartmoor and the English Channel into which it drains.


Class and wealth

It’s never mentioned in the review literature — it’s considered bad form to mention someone’s background when they’re born into wealth — but for over a quarter of a century Oswald has lived in Devon on the Dartington Estate, which was created in the early twelfth century. After reading Classics at New College, Oxford, she trained as a gardener, and her job for seven years was the gardener at Dartington Hall, during which she wrote her first poetry collection. Between 1996 and 1998, she was promoted to poet-in-residence at The Dartington Hall Trust. And in August 2021, she was appointed Senior Lecturer at the Dartington Arts School, where she teaches an MA on Poetics of Imagination. The school is a faculty within The Dartington Trust, which is one of the legal loopholes through which the British aristocracy avoid paying tax on their land and property.

Indeed, Oswald is the grand-daughter of Viscount Curzon, the 6th Earl Howe, a hereditary peer, and her mother is Lady Priscilla Mary Rose Curzon, a famous garden designer, which influenced her getting the job at Dartington. Her husband, Peter Oswald, with whom she has three children, is a playwright and the nephew of Sir Julian Oswald, the First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy between 1989 and 1993, and comes from a family of landed gentry in Scotland. She is, in other words, safely marooned on an island of inherited privilege and financial security far away from the machinations of Westminster and the City of London, and from which she views the world through the lens of Greek myth. And who can blame her? It would be crude to reduce any poem to a self-portrait, conscious or otherwise, but in Weeds and Wild Flowers — which of all her books is most grounded in this territory — Oswald writes:


A white-faced hanging-her-head

well-rooted woman used to live here.

Under the hips of the hills

in the arms of the valley. . . .


And trees leaves stars everything

was always running down through stones

to this lowest level

of the lull between earth waves.


And hanging her head she said

I’m not leaving this valley

I’m going to bury my feet in the earth

they’ll never shift me.


But they did.


—Lily of the Valley, 2009


But there’s the rub. A great artist cannot hide in the river-valleys of Devon, however much they may wish to as a person, or in the fourteenth-century cottages of a Norman estate. Even T. S. Eliot — who was castigated for his conversion from Modernism to Anglo-Catholicism (at which point Virginia Woolf declared him ‘dead to us’) — wrote one of the most resonant responses to the Great War in The Waste Land, and the religiosity of Four Quartets is set against the Blitz.

Oswald’s single foray into something equivalent, Memorial, does so through the veil of the Iliad, which she pares down to the accounts of the deaths of the individual soldiers and the pastoral similes that describe them. In this respect, it is something like the soldier who clutches a broken sword at the bottom of Picasso’s Guernica, or, perhaps a better comparison, like Ted Hughes’ Crow, one of Oswald’s favourite books. But that’s about as close to death as she gets — which is to say, compared to the immediacy of death in Hughes’ Moortown Diary, she remains at a mythological distance.


Echepolus a perfect fighter

Always ahead of his men

Known for his cold seed-like concentration

Moving out and out among the spears

Died at the hands of Antilochus

You can see the hole in the helmet just under the ridge

Where the point of the blade passed through

And stuck in his forehead

Letting the darkness leak down over his eyes


—Memorial, 2011


As for social commentary on the contemporary world, the closest Oswald comes are the stories she collects from workers and players on the River Dart — which runs through the Dartington Estate — or tidal-walkers and fisherman on the Severn Estuary; but they remain anecdotal, observations of working life from the passing punt of the Oxford poet on a council grant, and who, like a thousand poets before her, dips her nib into the blood of the working classes in an attempt to breathe life into her poetry.


I’m in charge as far as Dartmoor, the metabolism of the whole South West, starting with clouds and flushing down through buildings and bodies into this underground grid of pipes, all ending up with me up here on my bridge.

—Dart, 2002


Two sleepwalkers struggling along, one painfully thin with eyes closed (that’s the Moon), the other writing (that’s me). I’m always out here, noting things down in my nightbook, being interrupted.

—A Sleepwalk on the Severn, 2009


Nature without man

Her focus remains the abstraction Nature. ‘A Short Story of Falling’, which opens Falling Awake, is one of Oswald’s most beautiful poems, and in 2020 was published with seven other poems in a separate book accompanied by eight metal engravings by Maribel Mas. It is an ecological poem, about the passage of water from the sky into the earth through a plant into the poet and out again in the poem.


It is the story of the falling rain

to turn into a leaf and fall again


it is the secret of a summer shower

to steal the light and hide it in a flower . . .


drawn under gravity towards my tongue

to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song


which is the story of the falling rain

that rises to the light and falls again


—A Short Story of Falling, 2020


It’s precise, poignant and delightful to ear and tongue, but it remains nature poetry, devoid of the agency of man, human society and historical specificity. It says nothing, for example, about declarations by global corporations that access to water should no longer be a human right, or their current attempts to monetise nature under the cover of implementing the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. In short, in watching the passage of water from sky to earth and back again, her poem closes its eyes to the world of capital through which all human relations, and not just water, are strained. It remains unclear, therefore, to what we are being encouraged and inspired to ‘awake’ by her book.

The profundity — I would suggest false profundity — of Oswald’s poem not only fails to engage with the actual passage of water into the poet’s mouth — which is far more complex and has many more mediations than the ‘cast-iron tanks’ and ‘pipe-work’ that are her poem’s only concession to modernity. That’s okay, of course, not every poem has to make such an engagement. But what bothers me about her poem — and about the title of the collection it opens, Falling Awake — is that this idealistic and deliberately naive perception of nature is the ideological ground for the environmental fundamentalism that is being employed to justify the corporate takeover of the globe’s natural resources, including our water.


Depth and length

Of Alice Oswald’s eight books, however, only three or maybe four could be called ‘collections’. Her focus, and the form in which she has made her greatest contribution to poetry — that accommodates and frames her most innovative writing — is the book-length poem. By this I mean the books whose individual poems — sometimes verse, other times prose, sometimes both — are not titled (although they may be accompanied by a marginal identification of the ‘speaker’), and which, although they may be read or quoted on their own, only acquire — or receive — their full meaning within the context of a reading or recitation of the whole book they help compose.

So while Weeds and Wild Flowers and Falling Awake both have a theme that binds their poems into a book that is more than just a collection, it is Dart, A Sleepwalk on the Severn, Memorial and Nobody that belong to this category of the book-length poem. Much as I’d like to, I can’t discuss all of them here, so I want to focus on Oswald’s most recent book. My aim in doing so is to dip into its depths, so to speak, in order to pull out not only the pearls it makes of fisherman’s eyes, but what I feel are the limitations of this form and of her poetry. Finally, I will express my hopes for the book she has not yet published, and which I hope to see.

Alice Oswald is not, of course, the first poet to write a book-length poem. From Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley and Keats to Tennyson, Browning (Mr. and Mrs.) and Swinburne, a British poet of the nineteenth century could hardly be called a success until he or she had published one; and even in the twentieth century the form was revisited, with varying degrees of success, by William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound and W. H. Auden. Oswald’s frame of reference, however, is more likely to be that of the Ancient Greek and Roman epics she studied at Oxford and references in her work. What I want to focus on here is what this length and framework does to poetic form in the twenty-first century.

I’ve already said that the reading or recitation of a component passage or poem of a book-length work extracted from the whole deprives it of its full meaning. By this, I do not mean that this meaning has a measure and a limit, which a reading of the whole work fills, as it were, to the brim. No reading can exhaust the meaning of a poem; but a poem written to be read as part of a whole will always lack possible meanings that only a reading of the whole will be open to receive.

But what of it? Some of the greatest poetry in the English language are parts of a whole — Shakespeare’s tragedies, the King James Bible, Milton’s epics, Blake’s prophecies. But those were written in times when the performance of long passages of verse was commonplace, and much of it was held in the memories of those reading it, reciting it or listening to it. Today that’s all gone. I don’t know whether schoolchildren are required to remember and recite even the basics of English-language poetry, but I very much doubt it. And even those of us old enough to have had and benefited from that lesson, retain in our memories passages from Shakespeare, Milton and Marvell, rather than being able to recite entire poems without a text.



I have a good memory for verse, a passion for poetry and regularly read it aloud to whoever will listen; but even I can’t recite the whole of The Waste Land by heart. What chance, then, that even avid readers of poetry will be able to recite, or even retain in their head all at once, one of Oswald’s book-length poems? I’ve read all of them several times and with great enjoyment, but I doubt there’s a single line from any of her four books I could call to memory. Indeed, now I try to, there isn’t. Auden called poetry ‘memorable speech’, and although it is more than that, it is also that; and I find the fact that I cannot recall a single line of Alice Oswald’s poetry from any of her eight books — while I can recall whole stanzas of verse by Kate Tempest — worthy of note and consideration.

The first thing to say — I would be very surprised to hear otherwise — is that this is deliberate on Oswald’s part. She rarely uses rhyme (‘A Short Story of Falling’ being the exception that proves the rule); and although, when she writes in verse it reads as verse, she only ever uses a regular metre when referencing the historicity of a form (the quatrains in which she recounts the myth of the discovery of Britain by Brutus of Troy in Dart being an example — and even these are unrhymed). Her poems lend themselves neither to wise epigraph nor to pithy quotation. Familiarity of form and facility in reading are not Oswald’s aims. And a poetry that tries to accommodate itself to the attention spans and passing fads of the contemporary citizen of the UK is courting assimilation into its stupidity — as the subsequent career of ‘Kae’ Tempest has hammered home with depressing familiarity.

So what are the aims of Alice Oswald’s poetry? To answer this question, let’s look at some passages from Nobody.

I started reading this book — as one does — on the toilet, one of the only places these days where I am free from the constant chatter of my laptop and my own mind. And for some time I disliked it — not merely didn’t like it but disliked it. Yes, it beautifully evoked the phenomenon of water in its numerous and inexhaustible settings, and I recognised many of its allusions to threads of myth that were woven into its depths; but as I flicked from page to page, heedless of what order it might have had, it seemed to me an unmemorable mess, its occasional glints of something rich and strange forgotten and unrecoverable at my next sitting. But since those sittings were repeated and I never replaced the volume with something else, the writing slowly took a hold on me, and eventually to the extent that I ordered a copy of the hardback, with the reproductions of the watercolours, and took it on holiday with me to Wales.

We read it together — as we usually do, my girlfriend and I — in three sittings, swapping the book between us when a watercolour interrupted the words. The first reading was between two sand dunes on the beach at Rhossili Bay, at the western end of the Gower Peninsula. The second reading was in a cove on the south side of Worm’s Head, a mile or so out to sea. The final reading was to be in Paviland Cave on the South-west coast, the site of the oldest known ritual burial in Western Europe; but, after two weeks of sun, a storm was coming, and the wind-pushed tide made it impossible for us to cross at slack water and ascend the cliff. So instead we finished the book — as couples do — in bed one morning, as a gale whipped the rain across our window pane. It was during the second reading, and in the discussion between us that followed, that the idea for this text came to me.

Perhaps it didn’t require the distant roar of the surf, or the much closer sound of the waves against the rocks, or the cry of kestrels and razorbills overhead, or the wash of the tide over pebbles and sand, to bring Oswald’s lines to life — but it helped. And it helped, too, to reveal the open-ended, unpunctuated ebb and flow, drip and drop of her words across and down the pages of her book.


or is it only the hours on their rounds

thinking of the tides by turns

twelve white-collar workers

who manage the schedules of water

opening and shutting the mussel shells and adjusting

from black to turquoise the swinging sea-lights

so that the sun sinking through bladderwrack

into interminable aquarium

finds even down there are white






and when it rains and the sand has every ounce of me

marked at low tide and immediately forgotten

so that my footprints far into the future

go on sunkenly walking underneath me

when it rains it snows sometimes

as if falling asleep the body began to float






When trees take over an island and say so all at once

some in pigeons some in pollen with a coniferous hiss

and run to the shore shouting for more light

and the sun drops its soft coverlet over their heads

and owls and hawks and long-beaked sea-crows

flash to and fro

like spirits of sight whose work is on the water

where the massless mind undulates the intervening air

shading it blue and thinking


I wish I was there


or there




the same iridescent swiftness and the same

uncertain certainty either brimming or rippled

or swelling over of hollowing water

as one thought leads to another if you stand

here on these boulders with your back to the earth

you can see the whole story of the weather

the way the wind brings one shadow after another

but another one always sweeps up behind

and no-one can decipher this lucid short-lived

chorus of waves it is too odd and even

as if trying to remember some perfect prehistoric

pattern of spirals it is too factual too counter-factual

too copper-blue too irregular-metrical




Nobody, 2019


There are other passages that yield more to citation as individual poems, mostly those with a more recognisable mythological reference — Proteus, Icarus, Orpheus, Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Poseidon, Penelope, Circe, Odysseus (the ‘Nobody’ of the title), some of them renderings of the Ancient Greek into contemporary English (and in this Oswald is perhaps most like Pound) — but I quote these instead, because they are more representative of Oswald’s poetics. As for any Oxford-trained classicist, this is founded on mimesis (finding textual equivalents for the territory of her poems) and katharsis (evoking the emotions they raise in her). Nobody is both a mythology and a phenomenology of our lived experience of where and how water meets land and what can happen when it does, an almost concrete meeting of sound and shape, memory and vision, touch and interiority — ‘the sea’, as Rimbaud wrote, ‘merged with the sun’. For myself, I know of no other contemporary verse in the English language that attains such materiality.


Truth or gongs

So where’s the rub? The rub is that we don’t live in the space where the land meets the sea, and no amount of mythologising it will make that space our own, however much we want it to be. We live in a very different space. Poetry, and the poets who write it, must engage with the border conflicts of their time, and, in twenty-first century Britain they don’t lie on the South Devon coastline.

The last three years have exposed the lengths to which our masters will go to hold onto and increase their power over us, even if that means killing us in our thousands. Though most of us still do not know it, we are in an internal war that has not been declared against us by any government but which is no less real for that — and, in case it isn’t clear, we are losing it. On the justification of protecting us from numerous manufactured crises, our rights, our freedoms and our democracy are being permanently dismantled and replaced with the increasingly authoritarian rule of unelected and unaccountable technocracies intent on forming themselves into a world government. The gods of Olympus have returned — or so they would have us believe; and as Shakespeare warned us on that torrential heath, to them we are no more than flies to wanton boys.

If Oswald’s next book is as stupid and servile as the Laureate poems of Simon Armitage — contributions to the lies about the coronavirus crisis; about the lockdown of the UK it was used to justify; obsequious paeans on the death of the loathed and loathsome Prince Philip; celebrations of corporate environmentalism; lamentations about the proxy war in the Ukraine; commemorations of the 200,000 deaths fraudulently attributed to Covid–19; more celebrations on the obscene spectacles of the Platinum Jubilee and the Lying-in-State of Queen Elizabeth II; of the centenary of the BBC that has lied to us for three years; on the even more obscene coronation of King Charles III; and other emollients from what Thomas Gray called the ‘rat-catcher to his Majesty’ — it’ll be the last book by her I ever read. I don’t imagine that it will be; but it also — this is what I’m trying to say — cannot ignore the last three years and more of lies and cowardice, of state terrorism and democide. The time when poets could hide the political naivety of their poems in the felicities of their verse, the delicacies of their observations or the emotiveness of their laments is well and truly over.

What might this new book look like? If I knew that I’d write it myself; but it would not lend itself to the political and cultural hegemony of environmental fundamentalism (although, given that one of Oswald’s Oxford lectures was called ‘Lament for the Earth: Addressing the challenge to nature poetry’, that seems unlikely); it would not lend itself to propaganda for US imperialism in the Ukraine; it would reclaim woman from her erasure in our laws, education and cultural industries by the orthodoxies of so-called trans-rights; it would oppose the dismantling of our democracies on the justification of protecting us from multiple manufactured crises; and it would, above all, defend our freedom of conscience, expression and speech to give voice to such dissent. It would do all these or just some of them and perhaps much more. It could not be contained within the description ‘nature poetry’.

But I do know what such a book would mean for Alice Oswald. It would mean her giving up all hope of becoming the next Poet Laureate, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. It would, perhaps, mean resigning her position as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, which has been one of the institutions of higher learning enabling the corruption of science, medicine and indeed poetry by corporate funding. It would mean, perhaps, being dropped by her publisher under the threat of no-platforming by its customers. And it would mean losing much of her existing audience of nature-loving festival goers and book buyers.

But then, Oswald isn’t the first aristocrat to be a poet, and she wouldn’t be the first to rebel against her position. And she has done something like this before, when she withdrew from the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 because of the Poetry Book Society’s new sponsorship deal with the investment company, Aurum, a hedge-fund with over £1.5 billion under management. Presumably, it was this that occasioned her move from Faber & Faber to Jonathan Cape. Explaining her decision, Oswald said: ‘I think poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions’. I agree.

So I have some hope that she will take the same questioning attitude and moral stance to the lies by which our lives have been ruled over the last three years, and will continue to be ruled until we are brave enough to expose them. And since we, as a people, can’t move publisher, that means bringing down those ruling us with those lies. That, of course, is not the job of poetry; but if Alice Oswald writes the book of poetry this country so desperately needs, it would mean her finding a new audience, both within and outside of the one she currently has, and with it becoming what I believe she has the potential to be: a great poet.


This is an extract from Simon Elmer's new book, Notes to Poetry, which is available in paperback. Please click on the link for the contents page and purchase options.


Article image: John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Siren (1981) | Public domain