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Friday, 23 September 2011

An evening with Edward Thomas

Went down to London yesterday for a day of culture – the Royal Academy in the morning, Poetry library in the afternoon and an evening with Edward Thomas.

The evening was not as the delightful Matthew Hollis pointed out at the start with the man himself but with his poems. After one of his previous sessions a couple staying in the same B&B were heard complaining at breakfast that they’d expected the first world war poet be there in person not just someone talking about him.



Actually with Thomas’ image projected on the screen at the front of the hall and with his wife Helen reading a couple of his poems (recordings obviously) I fancy that he was with us last night, listening possibly with some bemusement and not a little pride as a roll-call of poets read from his work and talked about how much it meant to them.


The poets were Michael Longley, Gillian Clarke and Andrew Motion together with Sarah Hall who was engagingly pleased to join the company of poets even though she write prose. But then so did Thomas and as well as poems she read from his war diaries. It was an evening full of riches. I took away from it one poignant moment when Thomas and Wilfred Owen are on the same railway platform. Owen has yet to be published and they don’t know each other so they don’t speak…

3 comments:

Mavis said...

Thanks for this Caroline - wish I'd been there - did you get to the Writing and Landscape exhibition at the British Library? It was inspiring to see the first and second (final it seems0 draft of Adelstrop and to hear Helen reading it on CD. I'm now looking forward to getting the book for Christmas.

Caroline M Davies said...

I completely missed that exhibition but I am going to the play - The Dark Earth and the light sky at the Almeida Theatre just before Christmas. Where do I get hold of Helen Thomas on CD?

Mavis said...

You missed an absolute treat - the most magical exhibition ever with original manuscripts and readings (using headphones) from so many poets that I was there for 8 hours and even forgot to get any lunch! Helsn's reading was there next to the drafts - I don't know if it's widely available. If I track it down I'll let you know. You've inspired me to start re-reading As it Was and World without End and also a little volume entitled Edward Thomas 0n the Countryside - a selection of prose and verse edited by Roland Gant.
I also have a book of his letters and A literary pilgrim which I've only dipped into so far - so think he's going to be the focus of my reading for a good while to come.