As Icebergs Keep Calving in the Barents Sea

We finally won the pub quiz at our local the other week. Two and a half years of trying, losing on a tie breaker twice and second place on so many other occasions, often by 1 point. Sometimes less. It was a moment of relief, a time for celebration.

And also a time for disbelief. Each week there is a news round. I have stopped watching the news. Picking up snippets here and there. The rest of the team were great, luckily. I’m still surprised we got so many right. I can’t cope with the news anymore. I won’t watch it. I turn off the radio or walk into another room.

At a time when we need real leaders the country is run by a bunch of utterly useless arseholes. From Brexit through Covid to Climate Change each crisis is an opportunity for someone to make obscene amounts of money, abetted by their friends in the media and the Houses of Parliament. The UK is in a mess. But who do the papers blame? Migrants. The feckless poor. The EU. The Labour Party from 11 years ago (to be fair they had a big part to play in setting up the conditions that led to the Middle East migrant crisis).

Yada yada yada. You know how it is. And how it grinds on. I can’t bear it anymore. And meanwhile we have incessant articles about a Llama, or cats being rescued from Afghanistan, or whatever reality show is flavour of the moment. Plus the Express wittering on about how Boris is trying so hard and is doing his best and has got another great idea and look at that Brexit bonus (these particular headlines seem to have dried up).

There’s a scene in Armageddon, that ridiculous Bruce Willis movie where they send drillers up to space to blow up a comet headed for earth, where an investigative journalist realises that the politician she is trailing isn’t running away from scandal but leaving to spend the last few weeks he has left to be with his family. Where she realises that Ellie is really ELE (sorry for the plot spoiler if you haven’t watched it).

I think of this scene pretty much every day now. The disgraced politician who is actually doing something decent as he knows what is coming and is doing what really matters. Some of the poems in my first collection, Landings, touch on a similar theme, like this one;

Taking Tea with Erwin 

I’m in the kitchen, 
making a cup of tea 
as the kids are fighting over the remote control.

The airwaves are swamped 
with the lives of near-celebrities, 
as icebergs are calving in the Barents Sea. 

Nobody is watching,
no-one is listening,
and I think of Schrodinger in ’35 

and the kids are laughing, 
and playing on the Wii, 
as icebergs keep calving in the Barents Sea.

Sometimes I feel like I am the cat, 
sometimes the vial, 
and sometimes the whole experiment; 

and I want to say, 
I want to say to them,
I just don’t know what to say, 

as icebergs keep calving in the Barents Sea.

I am so tired. Some days I feel as if I am on the Titanic (hence this particular photograph, which is apparently of the berg that sunk the unsinkable ship). Is it a recurrence of my previous bout of depression? I don’t think so. But it has affected my writing. It’s very dark at the moment. There doesn’t seem much room for light. Or for blogging for that matter, hence the silence here over the last few weeks.

But the light does get in. Somehow. It always gets in eventually. On Twitter I follow someone who asks people to share and vote on their favourite albums from a particular year. This fortnight it is 1996.

1996 was the year that the Manic Street Preachers released Everything Must Go, their fourth album, and the first following the disappearance of lyricist Richie Edwards. One of the tracks, The Girl Who Wanted To Be God is inspired by something said by Sylvia Plath. The biggest hit A Design for Life was the first song recorded and released by the band after Edwards vanished.

It’s a triumphant piece of music. The song was credited with having “rescued the band” from the despair felt after the disappearance of Edwards, with lead singer and songwriter Nicky Wire describing it as “a bolt of light from a severely dark place”.

It’s also the song that was playing on my in car CD player as I drove to the hospital to be at the birth of my first daughter. Listening to it again this week was a real reminder, that no matter how difficult the situation, there are things worth fighting for, and there is still time, there is still a chance to make a difference, with or without the fools who purport to lead us.

So I guess we’ve all got to do what we can. To work out what we can do that can make a difference. We’re not quite done yet.

What Do You Listen to When you Write?

I nearly always write to music. Quite often I’ll listen to the same track on loop whilst writing. Plenty of other writers I know don’t do this, preferring to work in silence.

But I struggle to write without having music on in the background.

The music doesn’t have to be related to the subject matter. Song for Zula by Phosphorescent is clearly a song about broken love, about something that wasn’t as it seemed, but I spent many hours listening to it whilst writing a poem about a pigeon! Not just any pigeon, mind you. This one;

Martha, the last living Passenger Pigeon, photographed in 1912

Tonally the song fitted the wistful melancholy of the poem itself (I’ll not share it here yet as it’s in a submission pile somewhere). Hopefully you’ll see Poem for Martha in print or online sometime soon. It almost got published in Butcher’s Dog magazine, so I think it has some merit. I’m just trying to find the right place for it. I digress.

You can hear Song for Zula here;

I usually write to music that doesn’t have any strong connection with a personal memory. As someone who is always looking out for and listening to new music, (when I say new, I mean new to me), this may not necessarily be significant, but I do think that too much familiarity, particularly if that familiarity is associated with a particular time of my life, would influence the creative process too much.

Looking back to my late teens and early twenties I used to listen to Talk Talk on repeat. This may have been a factor in my creating a whole folder of dire heart-on-my sleeve lost love poems that I threw away as they were so bad.

As it happens I was clueless then as to the real meanings of some of these songs – Such a Shame for example is actually inspired by a story of a psychiatrist who bases his actions/decisions on the cast of a dice: The Diceman, a novel published in 1971 by George Cockcroft (pen name Luke Rhinehart). It’s clearly suggested as such in the official video which you can see here: https://youtu.be/lLdvpFIPReA (Unlike the Song for Zula link I can’t seem to embed the video into this post).

Whatever, I couldn’t write poetry now whilst listening to It’s My Life, Such A Shame, Life’s What You Make It, or anything else by pre Spirit of Eden Talk Talk. The memories these songs drag up are too wince-inducing for me to want to revisit at the best of times, let alone when I am trying to create something new.

Over the last few weeks I have primarily been listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor whilst writing. Like the later iteration of Talk Talk, GYBE are a post – rock band. Unlike Talk Talk, with the exception of the occasional sample, their music doesn’t have any lyrics. Mladic , the track which I’m sharing below is apparently named after Ratko Mladic, responsible for organising the Srebrenica massacre and extradited to face trial in The Hague at around the time this song was recorded.

At 19 minutes 59 seconds long it has time to build different themes and motifs into the track. It’s one of GYBE’s heaviest tracks, and works particularly well when listened through headphones. Thematically, (rising darkness through despair, defiance and ending with hope for redemption), it fits the tone of what I am currently writing about, if not the exact subject matter.

I think the only times when I have written poetry whilst in silence was when on an Arvon course or in some other writing workshop. Maybe I’ll suggest sticking Mladic or The Dead Flag Blues, (which is equally expansive and apocalyptic, if more so), on full volume next time I’m in one and seeing how everyone else reacts!

I have experimented with this – trying to write poetry whilst listening to The Trammps’ Disco Inferno or Reach by S-Club 7 simply didn’t work. Maybe it’s just me, and the sort of subject matter that I am drawn to.

What about you? Do you write to music? If so, what works? Let me know!

How I Track my Poetry Submissions

I’ve had a couple of new acceptances in the last couple of days – another acceptance for Green Ink Poetry, and a poem in the first edition of Acropolis Journal. Both are online magazines. I’ll share both when they go live, though one is pretty dark – to put it mildly – and will need a trigger warning.

I thought I would use this as an opportunity to share how I track my poetry submissions – it would be great to see what systems other writers use. If you are a writer then let me know what works for you!

I’m submitting on a weekly basis and plan to carry on doing so – with a new collection potentially happening next year it’s fairly important to do so. It’s also great to read the work of other poets and discover new voices that are worth following and looking out for.

It’s also important to read each magazine before submitting anyway – in some cases I’ve felt that the publication isn’t right for my writing, or only potentially suitable for certain poems / styles – Green Ink Poetry for example tends to focus on shorter form poems. I hadn’t picked up on this the first time I sent in a submission, but had realised this by the next time since I actually read the magazine properly! The poem that was successful was one that I sent in specifically because of this.

I’ve also learnt the importance of tracking what you send out – firstly to avoid duplications (some magazines accept simultaneous submissions, some don’t), and also to avoid sending something to the same publication twice, which I almost did today when submitting to Little Stone Magazine. But luckily I had been keeping a record. Here’s a screenshot showing some of this year’s submissions. The greyed out bold entries are successes, the greyed crossed out italicised poems are rejections, and the other ones are active poems.

The magazines are a mix of print and online, brand new and well established publications, that will get anything from a couple of hundred to several thousand submissions per issue. I am absolutely delighted with every acceptance. Every publisher is trying to build credibility and their own magazine presence, so for them to accept one of my poems is a big deal.

I keep a summary of where I am over the course of the year in terms of acceptances / submissions etc. I’m not tracking percentages … yet!

Alongside this list I have a spreadsheet that I use – poems are organised in columns – waiting to be sent out, submitted or published. If submitted I have a 6 month ‘nudge’ date / date when available when I get back to the editors to chase an update, though the vast majority get back to me very quickly – I’ve had rejections within 48 hours on a couple of occasions! If I don’t hear back then the poem is moved back to the available list

You’ll see that the poem titles are in some cases in colour. I do this in order to track how often a poem has been sent out. After all, if it’s been rejected a lot of times maybe it just isn’t good enough? Whilst you can’t see it here, some recent acceptances have been for poems that have been submitted four or five times before. Sometimes it is simply a case of finding the right home for that particular poem.

A couple of other pointers;

If the poem in the published column is in bold it has been accepted by a publication that I haven’t had work in before.

If the poem is in italics and pale blue, it is a previously published poem that has found a new home in a magazine or on a website that accepts work that has appeared elsewhere before.

So what do you think? How do you track your poetry submissions? I’d love to find out!

I’ll finish this post with a link to each of the three magazines mentioned in this post;

Green Ink Poetry – https://www.greeninkpoetry.co.uk

Acropolis Journal – https://acropolisjournaluk.wixsite.com/acropolisjournal

Little Stone Magazine – https://www.littlestonejournal.co.uk

Have a look – there might still be time to submit for the next issue 🙂

From my Poetry Bookshelf – Philip Gross

I own two books by Philip Gross – The Water Table (winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009), and Love Songs of Carbon (from 2015), both published by Bloodeaxe Books. I’m not quite sure why I only have two of his collections. In my opinion he is one of our best contemporary poets.

I grew up in Somerset, so a lot of his location – based writing has deep resonance for me (Gross was born in 1952 in Cornwall), and The Water Table in particular is centred on the South West of England, with a particular focus on the Bristol Channel. Not only poems of place, but there is also elemental poetry about water itself.

Here’s Gross reading Severn Song, the final poem in the collection;

There are poems of environmental change – Atlantis World and Elderly Iceberg off the Esplanade, which begins with the lines;

Last night it came knocking, a first
since the end of the Ice Age. A stray eddy brought it,
a backhander from the Gulf Stream. It was heading
inland, could it be to spawn?

Other highlights (for me at least include a long poem which lifts off with observations in a retail car park (Fantasia on a Theme from IKEA), and a sequence running through the book (Betweenland I to Betweenland X) which as their titles suggest, explore the spaces between land, water and air.

A body of water: water’s body

that seems to have a mind (and
change it: isn’t that what makes
a mind, its changing?) not much
prone to thinking – rather, thoughts
curl through it, salt or fresh, or hang

between states: sometimes gloss
the surface with their oil-illuminations.

(from Betweenland I)

There are other poems of course, on other subjects, but this is a collection that is held together by water and how it connects us to our past and who we are. A good review can be found in the Guardian here:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/23/philip-gross-poetry-eliot-prize

You can buy it on Bookshop.org here:

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5319/9781852248529

There is an excellent review of Love Songs of Carbon , Philip Gross’ eighteenth collection in the Wales Art Review here:

https://www.walesartsreview.org/poetry-love-songs-of-carbon-by-philip-gross/

It’s another superb collection, and as with The Water Table, it’s a book I highly recommend.

As with The Water Table, it’s on my poetry bookshelf at;

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5319/9781780372587

This collection explores different themes, predominantly of ageing, and the language is, as with The Water Table word perfect. Take the first seven lines of A Walk Across a Field

A week of snow, slight melt, refreeze
and it comes to this: the ground
withholds consent
to every step;

it has us grappling, gasping, at each other,
like the fond emergencies
of young love.

To quote Michael Symmons Roberts & Moniza Alvi, writing in the PBS bulletin

‘The writing is sinewy, urgent and resourceful. The poet is a master of form, deploying his visual and aural patterns for emphasis, as if the page were a musical score. The absolute poise of the lines carve a way through the knotted difficulty of the raw material’.

Interested in finding out more? I’m going to finish with the classic social media / blogger’s faux pas, with a link away from this blog, but it’s worth it. You can read, and hear, a lot more of Philip Gross’ work via his website, at;

https://www.philipgross.co.uk

I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest post in my From my Poetry Bookshelf series. Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

From my Poetry Bookshelf – Empty Nest – Poems for Families – Edited by Carol Ann Duffy

My youngest child was 18 at the end of last week. Today is Father’s Day. Both events have prompted me to revisit this collection of poems for families, edited by Carol Ann Duffy, which I was given as a present earlier this year.

As with all good anthologies it includes a wide range of poems from across the centuries, that are as relevant now as they were when they were written – Here’s one from Charles Kingsley, writing in the mid-19th century

A Farewell

My fairest child, I have no song to give you;
No lark could pipe in skies so dull and grey;
Yet, if you will, one quiet hint I’ll leave you,
For every day.

I’ll tell you how to sing a clearer carol
Thank lark who hails the dawn on breezy down;
To earn yourself a purer poet’s laurel
Thank Shakespeare’s crown.

Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make Life, Death and that last for ever,
One grand west song.

Personal highlights include two lovely poems written by Jackie Kay to her son – Gap Year and Piano 4pm, which make me want to buy her Bloodeaxe selected poems, and stunning Eavan Boland contributions including The Pomegranate, which starts as follows;

The only legend I have ever loves is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.

Poems on letting go feature strongly as you would expect, such as Walking Away by Cecil Day Lewis, written for his son Sean, which if you don’t already know it starts with the following stanza;

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with the leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

and ends with these lines:-

How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

Or Stephen Spender’s To My Daughter

Bright clasp of her whole hand around my finger,
My daughter, as we walk together now.
All my life I’ll feel a ring invisibly
Circle the bone with shining when she is grown
Far from today as her eye are already.

But this isn’t just a book of parental reminiscence, there are poems written for parents – Charles Causley’s Eden Rock makes an appearance, as does Yvonne Reddick’s witty Things My Father Told Me, there are poems for lost children, such as Sharon Olds’ devastating To Our Miscarried One, Age Thirty Now and William Stafford’s For a Lost Child which finishes with the lines;

I found your note left from a trip that year
our family travelled: ‘Daddy, we could meet here’.

We are all changed by parenthood, and I know that when my son leaves for university in a couple of months time it is going to hit me hard. As W.S Merwin writes in Separation (this is the full poem so I hope it’s OK to share it here);

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its colour.

Back to Empty Nest. This really is an excellent collection of poems, suitable for poets or non- poets alike. It’s widely available, including on Bookshop.org here;

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5319/9781529028683

The last poem in the book is Shard, by Ella Duffy, (Carl Ann Duffy’s daughter) which ends

You danced on the road, blowing kisses,
giddy with seeing me,

your daughter, blinking my small light
down on the city;

the space between us swollen
and homesick, a mile long.

After the last year and a half, the poignancy of words like this comes into even sharper view.

From my Poetry Bookshelf – John Glenday – Selected Poems

A bit later than normal, this week’s from my poetry bookshelf post is a (brief) introduction to the work of John Glenday.

John Glenday was born in Broughty Ferry in 1952. He has said in interview that his mother was a reader, his father not at all. She gave him the words, his father the silences, a Glenday-like formulation. His ambition to be a poet was first fired in his teens. ‘A lot of people do [want to be poets in adolescence], but I never grew out of it…. Every job I’ve had is really something I’ve had to keep me while I’m writing.’ He studied English at the University of Edinburgh, and after graduating became a psychiatric nurse. Currently he lives in Drumnadrochit and works for NHS Highland as an addictions counsellor.

The above paragraph was taken from the Scottish Poetry Library’s introduction to John Glenday, which can be found here:

https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poet/john-glenday/

I first came across Glenday’s poetry at a zoom reading hosted by Walthamstow based Forest Poets. Incidentally their next event is a reading by George Szirtes, which I’m sure will be excellent – another poet who I shall have to write about at some point. if interested, you can buy tickets here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/forest-poets-presents-george-szirtes-tickets-156941112091?fbclid=IwAR1uUbsM7iZxxTJJ12_htDthvAYHDcpokgsjXjNvaMxLTdU1SOa0qUe27qU

I thought John Glenday’s reading was great, and was compelled to go out and purchase a copy of his collected poems afterwards. Those of you reading this who are familiar with his poetry will know that he is a superb, lyrical poet, with a beautiful and clear use of language and the space between words.

Take this, the title poem of his second collection, Undark, written about the Radium Girls;

Undark

And so they come back, those girls who painted 
the watch dials luminous and died. 

They come back and their hands glow and their lips 
and hair and their footprints gleam in the past like alien snow. 

It was as if what shone in them once had broken free 
and burned through the cotton of their lives. 

And I want to know this: how they came to believe 
that something so beautiful could ever have turned out right, 

but though they open their mouths to answer me, 
all I can hear is light.

The Selected Poems is a very good starting point and includes poems from four collections, and others that were not, until then, available in a collection. They are uniformly excellent, with a diverse range of subjects and forms – there is a lot of rigour and structure underpinning the lyrical quality of language.

A lot of the poems have a strong connection to the sea and sky, to the landscape and ecology, but also there are poems of love, of family history and a range of other subjects.

You can hear Glenday reading a short selection of poems on the Poetry Archive website, including Tin, which uses the fact that the can opener was invented forty-eight years after the tin can as a starting point for a whimsical and yet poignant poem.

Tin

To quote the blurb on the back of the Selected Poems, Glenday shares with W.S. Graham and Denise Riley an obsession with speech, silence and limits of knowledge, and with what form the energies that flicker along the border might take.

I’ll finish with the last stanza from The Skylark , which originally appeared in his fourth collection, The Golden Mean

one cloud, one thread of wind,
one song to hang
like nothing over everything.

If this brief (well it is 10.15 PM as I write this) introduction has whetted your appetite then you won’t be disappointed if you explore his writing further.

Helena Nelson in the Friday Poem

An interesting interview with Helena Nelson in the Friday Poem.

I happened to stumble on a link to this article in my Twitter feed. I thought I’d share it here having written about Happenstance Press in my From My Poetry Bookshelf blog post last weekend.

It’s a really good interview. I wasn’t aware of The Friday Poem blog before. Looks like it’s well worth keeping track of.

From my Poetry Bookshelf – Tiger – Cliff Forshaw

In addition to books on my poetry bookshelf, I also have a lot of pamphlets, including this one by Cliff Forshaw, published by Happenstance Press in 2011.

Pamphlets are a great way for poets who haven’t had a collection in print to pull together an initial selection of work, or for other writers to create a smaller thematic collection of poems.

Tiger falls into the latter category. It is 22 pages long, and themed around the now-extinct Tasmanian Tiger. I ordered this, partly due to an interest in the subject, and also due to wanting to see what the Happenstance Press publications were like, since I was planning on submitting a pamphlet’s work of work myself.

This, like the other Happenstance press pamphlets I own, (I haven’t ordered any for some time, but will do at some point when funds permit), is very elegantly put together, with a crisp and clean layout.

Tiger comes out of a writer-in-residence period in Hobart in 2004, (memo to self to check whether the Tasmanian Writers Centre are still offering these!), and starts with the following poem;

Loop
62 seconds of the extinct Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger on film. 

Within the box, it growls, it twists,
scowls through its repertoire of tricks,
ignores the camera — or gurns up close, turns 
again, to flop, to gnaw that paw-trapped bone.

It paces out its trap of light; one hundred reps 
while hindquarters zither bars of sun;
claws cage’s mesh, hangs stretched
as if to take the measure of itself.

You saw. You see. And what we’ve got is what was shot:
short clips, fragments caught and stitched 
together in a loop of black and white.

Nine lives? Not quite. It’s down. It’s out. 
It’s on its feet and born again. Like a repetition 
compulsion, like… like reincarnated light.

You can watch Forshaw introducing and reading the poem on YouTube, shared by The Poetry Archive, through the following link;

There’s also a Guardian article which goes into this particular poem in detail here;

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/nov/22/poem-of-the-week-cliff-forshaw

and you can watch the clip that inspired Loop here;

It’s one of the strongest poems in the pamphlet, and the one that has been shared the most online – presumably as a result of the Guardian choosing it as one of their poems of the week.

The second poem, Barcode, brings us up to date with the Tasmanian Tiger’s contemporary relevance;

Barcode
 
Extinct, this creature’s everywhere
from CD sleeves to bottled beer.
With trademark stripes, it zebras out
between the gums’ abstracted light.
They’ve even tigered my hired Mazda’s plate.
Everything’s branded. Tasmania – your natural state.

Now you see them. Now they’re gone.
Did this tiger’s go-faster stripes
aid recognition in the loping pack?
 
Eucalypts, eucalypts at speed,
late sun flickers through those trees:
at the tarmac’s edge, off-cuts of fur, strange weeds.
 
Billboards, stores along the newly-metalled road:
ironic ads, that hide’s barcode.

I’ll not reproduce anything else from Tiger, as it is still available for sale from Happenstance Press here;

https://www.happenstancepress.com/index.php/shop/product/24-tiger-cliff-forshaw/category_pathway-14

The other poems, also mostly in the form of sonnets, expand on the themes of man’s interaction with this now mythical ghost of an animal. There are poems about museum specimens, roadkill, shadows glimpsed beyond headlights, and a jaunty final poem which connects the Tiger with another long-dead Tasmanian, actor Errol Flynn – I’m not 100% sure about this last poem – I can understand the desire to lighten the sequence, but I wonder about how it fits with the rest of the poems. But that’s a minor quibble and more a reflection on my personal taste.

Both Barcode and Loop , which have been shared elsewhere online, are also available in Vandemonian, a full length collection about the inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land, (an earlier name for Tasmania), which was published by Arc in 2013. I don’t own it yet.

For more detail on Cliff Forshaw and his work (he is both a writer and painter), go to http://www.cliff-forshaw.co.uk

As for Happenstance, you can see their current range of collections here;

https://www.happenstancepress.com

You’ll not see anything from me there – my submission was, rightly, rejected. It was disjointed and simply not good enough. Most of the poems I submitted needed serious editing, and that’s being kind. Only one, (Bird in Hand – which you can find elsewhere in this blog), made it into my first collection.

But what I did receive from Helena Nelson, who owns and runs Happenstance Press, was a very thoughtful and detailed rejection letter, with notes on most of the poems I had submitted. She summarised by saying that there ‘was something there’ with my writing, but I was ‘trying too hard’.

If you happen to stumble across my blog Helena, then thank you. Your rejection letter had a lot of influence on a writer who was still trying to find a voice, even back in 2011/12.

And that brings me to my final point. Poetry publishers need support. They need people to buy books, pamphlets and magazines. Without this they cease to exist. So if you haven’t bought any books for a while, or subscribed to a magazine, then please bear this in mind! Small-press independent publishers of poetry in particular need our support right now.

Poetry Recordings – Charles Causley – Eden Rock

I thought I would start delving into the marvellous poetry archive of audio recordings. Something to share regularly on a Tuesday night perhaps? If so, let me know your favourites, and I’ll share them here to this blog’s gradually widening audience.

Here’s Charles Causley reading Eden Rock. That last line. Phew.

https://poetryarchive.org/poem/eden-rock/

Charles Causley (1917-2003) was born and brought up in Launceston, Cornwall and lived there for most of his life. When he was only seven his father died from wounds sustained during the First World War. This early loss and his own experience of service in the Second World War affected Causley deeply. His work fell outside the main poetic trends of the 20th century, drawing instead on native sources of inspiration: folk songs, hymns, and above all, ballads. His poetry was recognised by the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1967 and a Cholmondeley Award in 1971. In addition to these public honours, the clarity and formality of his poetry has won Causley a popular readership, making him, in the words of Ted Hughes, one of the “best loved and most needed” poets of the last fifty years.

The above paragraph was lifted directly from the Poetry Archive website.