I think my love of poetry might spring from the freedom I had as a child to explore the landscape of my home in north-west Durham, up on the border with Northumberland; that, and a love of the human voice.
I enjoy listening to Circle members as they read their selections. Every meeting is full of unexpected gems read in a range of accents and tones.
My time as a lecturer at University of London Goldsmiths led me into the world of art and artists, so visual imagery in poetry is important to me, as are the ways in which artists and poets compress ideas and convey emotions.
I came across a notice for SPC by chance in a local newspaper a few months after I had retired in 1997. At my first meeting I was impressed by the high quality of the poems presented by members. The Circle is truly that: an inclusive place where all can feel at home. We have some very good published poets within the group who exert a healthy influence and are a huge source of knowledge, but equally the contribution of everyone is valued. Belonging to the Circle has encouraged me to meet poets further afield, especially through the Poet in the City organisation. I have begun to write poetry of late, though I find the hard slog of redrafting after an initial surge of inspiration difficult.
Without the impetus of following the SPC programme I doubt if I would have discovered the amazing work of Andrew Marvell (and the complex person he was too), plus the staggering range of contemporary poets. Currently Michael Donaghy and Esther Morgan are two of my favourites along with Anne Stevenson and Seamus Heaney. With R S Thomas and Edward Thomas I am free to roam moors, woods and fields once more.