Poems about places and pasts: an extract from ‘On Magnetism’

Steven Matthews is professor of English Literature, University of Reading. His latest book of poetry, On Magnetism, was launched this week. It features poems about loss and remembrance, about the relation of the Renaissance and the Classical worlds to our own, and about locales within lives. 

The following poem is reproduced by kind permission of the publisher. It is followed by a reflection on the poem, and its place within the book, by Steven Matthews.

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Room to Rhyme: Poetry, Arts Policy and Crisis

Afternoon Workshop

Room to Rhyme is a British Academy funded research project investigating literature, crisis, arts policy and the public sphere, with special attention to poetry in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1978. The first project workshop will take place at the University of Reading on the afternoon of 29th April 2107. The afternoon will have an informal, interdisciplinary and collaborative atmosphere and is designed to promote discussion and facilitate contact between participants.

We are delighted to welcome Professor Marie Breen-Smyth, who will speak on her extensive and acclaimed work on conflict resolution, and poet, activist and film maker Damien Gorman, who will speak on, and present a short film about, his work in peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Conor Carville will also present the results of recent research in the Northern Irish poetry archives at Emory University and the Arts Council Northern Ireland Archives. Other invited participants include:

  • Siobhan Campbell (poet, Open University)
  • George Legg (academic, Kings College, London)
  • Steven Matthews (poet and critic, University of Reading)
  • Peter Robinson (poet and critic, University of Reading)
  • Derval Tubridy (artist and critic, Goldsmiths University)

The three papers and film are intended to provoke open discussion on the following areas: the impact of literary and artistic culture on political crisis; the relationship between art and state funding during crisis; the extent to which crisis can be represented; the role of art in conflict resolution and reconciliation; the role of literary and artistic culture in the maintenance of a narrowing public sphere; opportunities and directions for further research.

The event is free and open to anyone interested. A sandwich lunch, plus tea and coffee, will be provided. If you would like to attend, please email the organiser, Conor Carville on c.carville@reading.ac.uk

As places are limited, we urge you to get in touch soon (definitely by Wednesday 22nd November) – places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The MERL Autumn Speaker Series – Jack Thacker

Showing, Doing, Telling: Craft And Making

A Season Of Events Exploring Craft And Making At The MERL

Specialists in craft and the arts examine different ways of responding to rural life, exploring how best to nurture old skills, contemporary creative responses and traditional practice.

This talk by Jack Thacker, the current poet-in-residence at the MERL, will explore the poetics of agriculture.

Admission is free, although booking is recommended.