February 2021 Newsletter

Dear Poetry Friends


In the face of never-ending challenges, Keats was fearlessly creative on the page. Dead at 25, his sonnets can stand alongside Shakespeare’s, his poems tread every inch of the meadow of the English language, his letters are the finest ever written in English, and the beauty of his lyrical gift has seldom been surpassed by anyone in any language. More on my Events Page at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/keats200/



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 February 15 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 Keats 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).


January 2021 saw the launch of a new series, Poetry Concerts, with Poetry Concert One (Clare, Hardy and Keats) which has been very well received already.  This series will continue in March, and the programme for Poetry Concert Two will be announced on my website on March 1st. For more about the original idea of the poetry concerts and how they are put together, go to my Poetry Concert One page at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/poetryconcert1jan2021-2/.   


For details of all of the recordings available from these two online 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



Poetry Concert One – January, Nature, Ghosts, La Belle Dame, The Eve of St Agnes

“An engrossing 70 minutes. A fine balance between the intellect and emotions. Thank you.” (Sue Draney, London – 2021).

All my life I have 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. It has left me wanting somehow to re-programme with poems the whole idea of a music concert…  More on Poetry Concert One at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/poetryconcert1jan2021-2/


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

“Thank you for risking the journey and the unknowns. And thank you for a superb evening, one of the very best. You helped me, among many things, to relax into the Sonnets and swim in the one I am reading and let the poet and his words take me to wherever. In so doing you shifted something within me: it used to be apprehension, nervousness, uncertainty, and ‘will I get what I am supposed to get?’ Now I shall invite the words and the magician to talk to me and then join in; and the fun will begin”.
(Jeremy Harvey, at Shakespeare the Poet Night, Taunton, 6 October 2020)

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?

More on the Shakespeare the Poet lecture at https://grahamfawcett.co.uk/event/shakespeare-3/ 

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

“Thank you – I enjoyed it immensely. The historical and social context was very helpful . . . and your presentation of the metaphysical poets was so thoughtful and illuminating. And despite being familiar with so many of the poems you read, it is wonderful to be reminded of Donne’s passion and energy as well as the beauty of his verse. I will book the Coleridge forthwith.”
Caroline Maldonado, London (2021)
Online version

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

“Thank you. That was a revelation. I sat spellbound for the 90 minutes. I felt that you had taken on Coleridge’s eloquence and insight and transmitted it direct to us. I have been for whatever reason out of love with poetry for a while, and you rekindled for me the sense of its vital importance and its magic. I may even start writing again. I am immensely grateful. And the charismatic, tragic figure of Coleridge himself is vividly in my mind again. I remembered Lamb’s desperately sad letter about his death. I think we will be back for more in due course.”
Ruth Valentine, London (2021)
Online version

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

Critiquing your work

Graham has more than twenty years’ experience in reading and commenting on poetry submitted to him, from a handful of poems to advising on the compilation of a first collection. Write to him at grahamkfawcett@gmail.com if you would be interested in exploring this kind of help for your own work.

IMAGES (from the top down)

Posthumous portrait of John Keats by William Hilton (National Portrait Gallery, London) 

John Everett Millais, Madeleine undressing – Eve of St Agnes.

Unknown artist, The Cobbe Portrait of William Shakespeare, painting, claimed to be a portrait of William Shakespeare done while he was still alive. Possibly photographed by Oli Scarff. Collection: National Trust, Hatchlands Park, near Guildford, Surrey.

Lake Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, County Sligo, Ireland (photo by Robin Pollard)

The secluded Hardy birthplace cottage at Higher Bockhampton near Dorchester in Dorset, built by Thomas Hardy’s great-grandfather in 1800, has been little altered externally. (Photograph by Peter Broster).

John Donne and his wife lived (1600-1604) in this Elizabethan summer house on the River Wey at Pyrford, Surrey – photograph by Suzanne Knights

Engraving by Gustave Doré for an 1876 edition of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Labelled “The Albatross,” it captures the moment in the poem when Coleridge writes of the albatross that

“In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,

It perched for vespers nine;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white Moon-shine.”

John Menard, Mt. Etna and Taormina as seen from the Ancient Theatre of Taormina – the town in Sicily where Lawrence was happiest writing poetry and wrote several of his greatest poems

Strobilomyces, Dove Cottage – home of William Wordsworth (near Grasmere) from 1799 to 1808

John Mann, Adlestrop Replica station sign in field

National September 11 Memorial Museum, New York City


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