Reading, Talk

  • Image: W.S. Graham, Gurnards Head, Cornwall, copyright © Estate of Michael Seward Snow, 2018. All rights reserved

TRY TO BE BETTER I AN EVENING OF POETRY AND DISCUSSION

Poets Lavinia Singer and Sam Buchan-Watts will introduce the idiosyncratic creative practice of the modernist poet W. S. Graham (1918-86) before inviting artists and writers to read from, and reflect on, their contributions to the publication Try To Be Better.

The publication is a multi-disciplinary engagement with the life and works of W. S. Graham, who lived for most of his writing life in Cornwall. Singer and Buchan-Watts invited an international mix of writers and artists to enter into creative conversation with Graham’s notebooks and letters and to produce original poetry, illustration, sculpture, painting and scholarship in response. 

Try To Be Better is a wonderfully various collection of responses to Graham’s work. It’s exactly the kind of conversation, full of taut silences, vivid tangential thoughts and sudden confluences of awareness, that Graham aimed for. It enters territory that is inaccessible to purely academic study, ‘releasing’ Graham’s poetry for a new phase of life in a new generation. It proposes a model for alternative forms of literary critique and response that it would be good to see more widely adopted.” – Michael Bird, author of The St Ives Artists

Following the talk there will be time for an open discussion about engagement with a writer’s legacy and the dialogue between art and poetry. 

Lavinia Singer is a poetry editor at Faber & Faber. Her poetry explores image-making and materiality and has appeared in various magazines, journals and anthologies.    

Sam Buchan-Watts is the author of Faber New Poets 15 and the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award and a Northern Writers Award for poetry. He is completing a PhD on W.S. Graham at the University of York.

Both Lavinia and Sam have recently undertaken archival work on W. S. Graham, particularly on the intersection between poetry and art in his manuscripts and letters, and are contributors to Chicago Review’s recent special issue, ‘W. S. Graham: Approaches’, and the centenary anthology The Caught Habits of Language (Donut Press, 2018).

Lavinia and Sam will also lead a reading group on Saturday 28 September, from 2 – 4pm.