U is for Susan Utting


Photo Credit: http://www.poetrypf.co.uk

I knew the poem before I learned about the poet.    British poet Susan Utting’s work has won many awards, including a Poetry Business Prize for the collection Something Small is Missing. She has won the Berkshire Poetry Prize, was a winner in the Academi Cardiff International and has twice been short listed for the Arvon Poetry Prize. Her second collection, Striptease, was published in 2001 by Smith/Doorstop Books.  Her latest collection, Fair’s Fair, was just released last month.Utting runs poetry workshops throughout Britain and has taught poetry and creative writing at Reading University.  She is the founder of Reading’s acclaimed Poets’ Café, and is a member of Thin Raft Poets and Late Shift Poetry Ensemble. She has read and performed her poetry at arts venues and festivals including Edinburgh, Stanza at St Andrew’s, Ledbury, and for the Poetry Trust at Aldeburgh 2007.

She is my choice for today, and I’m adding one of her poems below.



Today’s Blue

Today’s blue’s nothing turquoise, it does not

shift in the light from duck-egg bright to aqua,

it is not a patch of sky to mend a sailor’s trousers

or the uniform of girls let out in crocodiles, on pre-set

routes through Mellor’s Park on Wednesday afternoons.

It’s not indelible on children’s tongues, or carbon

smudged on sweaty palms and touch-type fingertips,

nor is it jazzy/sad mood indigo for something small

you’ll always miss but never really had; today’s blue

is a memory of worsted cloth, tacked long and loose,

worn inside out, marked white with broken lines

of tailor’s chalk. It is a man cross-legged on a table

in a backroom; it is not my father, though he’s there

and with me and would understand the weft and warp,

the mesh of yarn, tight-woven to a blue so dark

you’d call it black; that he’d call midnight.

S is for Carl Sandburg

Who hasn’t read that the fog comes in on little cat feet?  Isn’t that delicious?

Carl Sandburg, author and poet, was born in 1878 and died in 1967.  He was the second of seven children, and was called “Charlie” by family members.

Like many boys of his time, he quit school after eighth grade and began working full-time.  He delivered milk, laid bricks, harvested ice, and shined shoes.  In 1897, at age 21, he began traveling as a hobo.  These traveling experiences influenced his writing, as he saw the stark difference between the rich and poor.

At the end of the 19th century, he entered college, where he honed his writing skills and produced three volumes of poetry.  Around 1908, he became a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, and in 1914, a group of his poems was published in a nationally circulated magazine.  At age 38, he was known throughout the literary world.  He won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for a biography of Abraham Lincoln, and a second Pulitzer in 1951 for his Complete Poems.

This is a delightful old episode of “What’s My Line” featuring Mr. Sandburg:

A is for Auden

Note: Some of my fellow bloggers started their “A” posts yesterday, which I thought was exempt, as it was Sunday.  They’re onto “B” today, so I guess I will be, again, behind.  Unless I can get two posts out today.

My theme for this A to Z Blogging Challenge will be: authors.  That includes writers, storytellers, novelists, poets, and even songwriters.

A is for Auden.  W.H. Auden, whose first name was Wystan and middle name was Hugh, is not as well-known as, say, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, or the American Robert Frost.  Unless you count “Four Weddings and a Funeral” as one of your favorite movies.  His name sounds suspiciously British, and it is.  He was born in England and later became an American citizen.  Born in 1907, died in 1973.

I remember reading one or two of his poems in college.  “September 1, 1939” was about the start of World War II, but also about oppression, and I couldn’t even grasp the complexity of his writing back then.  It wasn’t until I heard “Funeral Blues” (also known as “Stop All the Clocks”) read by the character of Matthew (John Hannah) at the funeral service of Matthew’s partner Gareth in “Four Weddings,” that I paid attention to Auden again.  Click on the link if you want to watch it again.

“Funeral Blues”


Funeral Blues (Song IX / from Two Songs for Hedli Anderson)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.