Thursday, 19 April 2007

In the Blood

A large and appreciative audience listened to Andrew Motion yesterday evening in Haworth. In the first half, the Poet Laureate read a number of his poems, one or two dating from his early twenties, others more recent, and extracts from his recently-published In the Blood, subtitled 'A Memoir of My Childhood'.

In the Blood is about growing up in post-war England, and is an evocation of family life, school life and country life. It also tells the story of how these worlds are shattered when his mother suffers a terrible riding accident. It is written from the point of view of a teenager, without the benefit of adult hindsight, capturing the pathos and puzzlement of childhood with great freshness of memory.

The main extract read out in Haworth was about a cricket match in which his father played, against a team called 'The Gentlemen of Essex'.

Questions from the audience occupied most of the second half: Motion spoke about the poets he reads ('More great ancients than great moderns nowadays'), about his opinions on how classic texts are poorly treated in schools and on what he does with the butt of sack given to him each year as payment. Apparently, he hates sherry.

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