Tag Archives: Sebastian Barker

A Poetry Celebration for Kathleen Raine Oct. 12th at Girton

Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine

I am honoured to have been chosen to read at this year’s Poetry Celebration for Kathleen Raine, organized by The Temenos Acadamy,  as Kathleen was once a fellow of Girton, the Celebration this year is being held in her old college. The evening starts on 12th October at 6pm. readings from 6:45, and the evening finishes at 8pm. Tickets are available on the door or from temenosacadamy@myfastmail.com  Poets invited to read include Sebastian Barker, Hilary Davies, Jane Draycott, James Harpur, Grevel Lindop, and Clive Wilmer. Each poet will read from their own work and one poem of their choice by Kathleen Raine. I am going to read ‘Air’ from her suite of poems about the four elements so I will also be reading some of my own poems that play with or reflect on the traditional four elements, including this one about a walk in Grantchester Meadows, which will be published in my nest book The Singing Bowl:

As usual you can hear it by clicking on the title or on the ‘play’ sign


Out in the Elements

I crunch the gravel on my ravelled walks

And clabber with my boots in the wet clay

For I myself am clay that breathes and talks

Articulated earth, I move and pray

Alive at once to walk and be the way.

The root beneath, the branch above the tree

These hedges bright with blossom, white with May,

Everything concentrates, awaits in me

the coming of the One who sets creation free

Earth opens now to sudden drumming rains,

The raised and falling waters of the sea

Whose tidal pull and play is in my veins

Spilling and spreading, filling, flowing free

Whose ebb and flow is still at work in me

And in the wombing pulse of play and work

When heart beats pushed in waves of empathy

Till waters broke and bore me from the dark

And found this foundered shore and took me from the ark

As rain recedes I pause to fill my pipe

And kindle fire that flickers into light

And lights the leaf all curled and cured and ripe

Within a burr-starred bowl. How fierce and bright

It glows against the cold. And I delight

In taste and fragrance, watching whisps of grey

And graceful smoke in their brief flight,

As sun breaks from the clouds and lights my way

I feel the fire that makes the light that makes the day

Now air is all astir in breaks and blasts,

The last grey rags of cloud are blown aside

The hedgerows hush and rustle in the gusts

As clean winds whistle round me. Far and wide

Bent grasses and frail flowers lean aside

I breathe the world in with this brimming breeze

That tugs at me and eddies at my side

Quickens and flickers through the tangled trees

And breathes me back to life and brings me to my knees

Akin to every creature I will learn

From each and all the meaning of my birth

I love the dust to which I will return

The subtle substance of my mother earth,

From water born by fire fathered forth,

An index and epitome of nature,

I sum and summon all the world is worth,

And breathing now His elemental air

I find the One within, without, and everywhere.


Filed under imagination, literature

Kind Words From Rowan Williams

Come to the Launch Dec. 5th 7:30pm St. Edwards Cambridge!

In the midst of November gloom I have just had a very encouraging email. It was from my publishers at Canterbury Press and contained the comments on my poetry which they intend to use as ‘blurbs’ on the back of the book. They had sent advanced copies to various people for comment, and happily all of them have written back with real encouragement and the kind of comment that will, I hope, wing the book on its way. I am grateful for all these endorsements and particularly grateful that Rowan Williams, in the midst of so many more pressing matters, found the time to read and comment on these poems, What a remarkable man he is!

So here are the comments and endorsements from which the cover ‘blurb’s will be taken:

‘Malcolm Guite knows exactly how to use the sonnet form to powerful effect.  These pieces have the economy and pungency of all good sonnets, and again and again, offer deep resources for prayer and meditation to the reader.  In his own words, ‘brevity, clarity, concentration and a capacity for paradox’ are typical of the best sonnet sequences, and all those qualities are to be found here.’ Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

‘Each of Malcolm Guite’s sonnets is like a Celtic knot, with threads of devotion and theology cunningly woven into shining emblems of truth and beauty. Whether spoken aloud or read silently, these poems speak to mind and soul.’  Luci Shaw, poet and author of Harvesting Fog and Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit

‘I can hardly overstate my enthusiasm for this work. The poetry is masterful, the insights breathtaking. At a time when language has all but lost its magic, and the church her confidence, Sounding the Seasons rekindles the belly’s fire and reminds us that this adventure is both noble and far from over.’       Steve Bell, singer-songwriter

 ‘The sonnets are made to be read out loud to help us experience the sacred year in a renewed way. His aim is to be appropriate, up-to-date and focused. His poetry is deeply informed by knowledge of the Christian faith; and he brings his skill with the sonnet to communicate this knowledge with gentleness, accuracy and flashes of fire.’   Sebastian Barker FRSL, poet and author of The Erotics of God and many other volumes of poetry

 Malcolm Guite’s poetic sequence is fresh and wholly contemporary, yet richly rooted in tradition. Using the sonnet form with absolute naturalness as he traces the year and its festivals, he offers the reader – whether Christian or not – profound and beautiful utterance which is patterned but also refreshingly spontaneous. Sounding the Seasons is an important poetic event, and one that invites readers to share both celebration and soul-searching.

Grevel Lindop, poet and literary critic


Filed under christianity, literature