Issue #179 / January 2022

What is your favourite poem?


How much influence do your friends have?


Dear Renata and Gerry,

I don’t have a favourite poem as it changes daily. I do have three poets on the go at the moment, though, who are all bringing me an enormous amount of insight and pleasure.

The first is the Persian lyric poet, Hafiz — who my friend, the sculptor, Thomas Houseago, calls ‘the great trickster’. Thomas recommended Daniel Ladinsky’s revelatory book, A Year with Hafiz, and I read one of these beautiful poems each day. Today, Hafiz talks of his role as a poet to be little more than shaped potential brought alive by the creative spirit —


“I am the hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through”


I am also revisiting Rainer Maria Rilke’s mind-blowing Duino Elegies. I was recently reminded of this collection by Philip, a young painter & neighbour at my ceramics studio, who spoke of them with such utter love, I felt compelled to read them again. Rilke talks of his gifting spirit as a terrifying angel —


“Perilous behind the stars”


And thirdly, a few weeks ago I was introduced to the work of Lucille Clifton by my email-pal, journalist, Suzanne Moore. I now happily own a massive volume of Clifton’s collected works. I read, at random, one of her amazing poems each day. New Year’s Day gave me this poem, and it couldn’t be more appropriate for me, as a writer who yet still feels that ‘early lunge toward language’.


the birth of language


and adam rose

fearful in the garden

without words

for the grass

his fingers plucked

without a tongue

to name the taste

shimmering in his mouth

did they draw blood

the blades  did it become

his early lunge

toward language

did his astonishment

surround him

did he shudder

did he whisper


These poems all speak to us of the imaginative and animating spirit that belongs to us all. As we try to fathom this coming year, let’s pray we can live it creatively, in the name of that most obscure and tentative utterance, love — our ‘eve’.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2022.

Love, Nick


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