Mid-December 2020 into January 2021 Newsletter

Dear Poetry Friends


Shakespeare’s long poems, sonnets, and aria-like moments in the plays

Take the most recently discovered portrait of him and look into his face, and you may well feel compelled to ask yourself afresh so many things about him. Here’s one: to what extent did the author of the Sonnets feel he was writing poems in his plays as though momentarily staging a poetry recital of set pieces to hold an audience’s breath in mid-drama? Shakespeare left plenty of answers and they are there to be uncovered the moment one begins to explore . . .  More on my Events Page at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/shakespeare-3/  


As the lecture has been recorded, you need no special equipment to view it, other than a computer or laptop.

The lecture does not go out at a particular time, and Zoom is not involved. Instead, it is available on YouTube at one click, accessible to everyone who books for it. Book any time from now and you will be sent, from December 13 onwards, links to the lecture which offer you the choice of either watching it on YouTube or listening to it as a downloadable audio podcast.

As you will see from the Shakespeare page, you do not need a PayPal account to book the lecture (£10), simply a debit or credit card which enables you to pass straight through the booking process as a Paypal guest. (Just click on the grey Pay By Debit Or Credit Card option bar at the foot of the first Paypal page).


Friday 15 January 2021 sees the launch of a new series, Poetry Concerts. I have long been drawn to the shape, structure and content of symphony and chamber concerts, often presenting three or four works which have been put together in the same programme because of the connection or contrast between them: some – like overtures or symphonic poems – in one movement, others – like concertos, orchestral suites and symphonies – in three, four or five movements, with the major work usually after the interval.  

This is an exciting new venture for me. Poems in the first concert will have short introductions recorded in Bloomsbury’s Gordon Square, the readings at my house in Holborn. Each month’s poetry concert will be in two parts and last about an hour. The idea of a work in several movements will be represented by a sequence of poems by a single poet. January 2021’s concert includes poems by John Clare and Thomas Hardy (this concert’s sequence poet), and a major work by John Keats in anticipation of his bicentenary in February 2021. Full details of the opening January concert will be posted on my website on New Year’s Day when booking for it opens.  New lectures will also feature here and there in my 2021 online calendar.      


There is every reason to believe that live audience events will return in our lives during 2021. Already in the calendar are:

Akhmatova Night, Café Sladers, West Bay, Friday 5 Feb 2021, 730pm
Tennyson Night, Café Sladers, West Bay, Friday 16 April 2021, 730pm
Chaucer Night, Brendon Books, Taunton, Monday 19 April 2021, 630pm

(Thorough attention will be paid to social distancing, safety and comfort).

It is hoped that news of live lectures in London and beyond can be posted soon.


For details of the other lecture recordings available from this 2020 online lecture series, see the bottom of this newsletter.


Do forward this newsletter to any friends and contacts who may be interested. If you would like to make someone a present of one of these talks, just let me have the contact details of the person you would like to receive it and then book your chosen talk in the usual way.

All best wishes for Christmas and New Year



W B Yeats, Ireland’s modern Orpheus of song, ballad, lyric and narrative – and a fount of energy for national renewal

“How very much we have enjoyed your Yeats lecture. You have lovely skills in giving us lots of information (and very varied) cunningly arranged so as to illustrate Yeats’s changing vision of things, and the moods and atmospheres and stances-to-the-world that came to him with them. And sometimes too how his rhythms and meters, even verse-lengths, do their job for him. And what a pleasure to hear you read all those favourite poems. As well as some of the Irish ballady ones that we’ve rather skipped over before. Thanks very much for all that”. (Janet & Patrick Coldstream, Hertfordshire).

 More on the Yeats lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/wbyeats

THOMAS HARDY Poet of virtuoso narratives on love, nature, the human journey, and how to handle the present

“Now there is clarity. There is the harvest of having written 20 novels first”. (Ezra Pound, reviewing Hardy’s Collected Poems). Famed, filmed and widely read for his novels, Thomas Hardy was actually always a poet who happened to write novels too. He started out as one as a young man, and then, in 1895, the second most important date in Hardy’s life for him and for us (1912 being the first) when the critics turned against him for Jude The Obscure, he turned their hostile energy to gold by putting up the shutters as a novelist and returning to poetry, his first love. . . . 

More on the Hardy lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/thomas-hardy

JOHN DONNE Supreme Metaphysical poet of love, adventure, reason, belief

“Very inspiring. What is great about your talks is the almost urgent need, certainly in my case, to go back to the poems themselves at a deeper level, or even for the first time”. (Celia Purcell, London). Donne’s ‘No man is an island’ challenges our fantasies of separateness, and his advice to “Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail” has lost none of its thwack.  His exciting fearlessness of invention electrifies the journey. Donne the rebel Elizabethan who re-made poetry, did it his way then, and is, to this day, cool. More on the Donne lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/johndonne-metaphysical-love-poet-2/

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE  Romantic and fantastic poet of the imagination

“I was struck by your evocation of fathers reflecting on their children early in your Coleridge . . . I think I’ve been mainly a prose parent, but identifying with you, and fondly reflecting on my now adult children, I’m combining a little poetic sensibility! Your lectures seamlessly blend exposition with the poems. I’m off now to Kubla and the Mariner”. (Charles Porter, San Luis Obispo).  Coleridge was a magician of the word, an irresistible poet of nature and imagination, a wildly inventive writer . . .  To meet the Ancient Mariner, old man and poem, at school is never to forget either.

More on the Coleridge lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/coleridge-romantic-poetry-mariner-2

D H LAWRENCE, POET Poet of human and animal creatures, love, remembrance

“Excellent. You tie things in so well and so eloquently and give a fabulous contextual view of when and where and what has gone before and may come after when I don’t have a wide knowledge of his poetry. . . Lawrence so sensitive like Van Gogh (his letters are amazing too). And I enjoyed your reflections on demon/daemon. Fascinating. Thank you”. (Chinks Grylls, Taunton). This talk is for all of you who read and love poetry, whether or not you have yet discovered D H Lawrence as a poet and not only as the author of Sons and LoversThe Rainbow and other novels. . . More on the Lawrence lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/dhlawrence-2 

WALT WHITMAN  Pioneer poet of love, humanity, nature, America, epiphany

“Bravo! Well done! A wonderful re-introduction to the life and art of Whitman, especially suggestive as to some contemporary influences on the development of his style. Your lecture reminded me repeatedly what a copious genius Whitman is/was ,- and has sent me straight off to try to write again (after feeling increasingly stale as this Covid thing has gone on.) And all beautifully written and delivered too.  Thank you!”  (Keith Chandler, Bridgnorth, Shropshire). Readers and listeners love Whitman for his invigorating wisdom shedding light on our lives left, right and centre . . .

More on the Whitman lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/walt-whitman

WORDSWORTH  Revolutionary Romantic poet of childhood, nature, memory

“We enjoyed it very much, and your method of expressing your thoughts”. (John Grantham, Dorset).  Wordsworth’s absolute devotion to his beloved Lake District is a luminous celebration of the vital spirit of place and how to express deep gratitude for belonging there. What is more, Wordsworth’s at-first-sight-formidable output is embraceable as we walk and climb, stop, look, listen, breathe and feel with him everywhere he goes. The Prelude is one of the most beautiful, engrossing, accomplished, sustained, expansive and invigorating poems in our, or any other, language. . .

More on the Wordsworth lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/williamwordsworth

EDWARD THOMAS  Poet of Adlestrop, nature and the War

“Thank you for the splendid talk on Edward Thomas. . . Lovely to hear you lifting the poems from the page. How tender his poems are, joy, pain and longing gently folded in together – I am thinking about how one folds flour into whipped egg whites when making a soufflé, fine particles of flour falling into the furrows of egg left by the spoon edge. I am doing a lot of cooking in the lockdown”. (CFG, Wiltshire) Walter de la Mare said Thomas’s aim had been “to express the truth about himself and his reality”. This throws light on how poetry suddenly surfaced in him: it was there all the time. . .

More on the Edward Thomas lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/edwardthomas

POETRY IS COMMUNICATION   Poems that connect with us

“I enjoyed it very much indeed. It is wonderful, for a start, to have all that poetry read to one, but then to have your wise and imaginative thought linking it all together is a stimulating and restorative blessing after a day of sadness for the world and personal fatigue and frustration brought on by internet incompetence!”   (Brenda Herbert, London). Graham invites his audience to live and re-live their own personal relationship with all the poetry they have ever read and listened to since they were old enough to find pleasure and meaning in it . . . , even as though for the first time. More on the Poetry Is Communication lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/poetryiscommunication


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