Poet of Honour, an accolade by Ars Notoria and Word Masala Foundation, celebrates our best contemporary poets we should have read by now. They are iconic and a major inspiration.
Christopher Reid and Ted Hughes were good friends. Hughes is a profound influence on my poetics. Even Roger Elkin, another authority on Ted Hughes, did not miss it and wrote to me about it when he published my poem, Bottled Ganges, in Envoi. The point being Reid, when asked if Ted Hughes had any influence on him, replied diplomatically. Hughes had his unique voice, and his poetry demanded of readers to invest in his work. Reid’s poems are way different from Hughes’s. These are readily accessible. The words in his poetry invoke a real airy, sensual presence of images. Only in an award-winning Gujarati artist and poet, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, I have faced such trickery by words. I find in Christopher Reid, his words also conjure up Sheikh’s magic and deliver us within ‘live’ corporeal distance of images. This is a unique experience in poetry whereby you feel you are virtually touching or experiencing the object. In your transference to the ambience, you are presented with smell, taste and the sensation of touch. For me, cherries have never been the same ever since reading Reid’s poem in The Red Anthology published by Waterstones! Since my son gifted me that volume and I read Reid’s poem, it has deflected me from the bags of season’s late cherries. Is this also the sort of old age Reid talking about in a poem here? Poetry and words, meticulously chosen and deployed, can endow us with some extraordinary experience! In many aspects, the physical invocation I found in those cherries resonates with The Tomato Vine here.
Besides his poems here, please discover Reid as a maestro in his poem ‘Late’, read by Tom Hiddleston (Loki to you):
-Yogesh Patel MBE
Poems by Christopher Reid
The Tomato Vine
The waft, the gasp, a tomato vine releases
each time a fruit is plucked –
in spiciness, akin to the greeting (Hey!)
brushed geranium leaves send up –
brings to my mind the more intricate mind
of George Herbert, who wrote:
Herbs gladly cure our flesh, because that they
Finde their acquaintance there.
He had his God, his Church, his herbal lore.
May I, who have none of these,
wish him one thing more:
a tomato vine, new from the Americas.
Let his fingers, putting aside prayer,
enquire along its ramifying green instead,
and let his nose be gratified to find
occasional hidden pungent
detonations of red.
Goats and Ducks
Man withdraws and Nature enters:
goats and ducks in our town centres
show the way that things might tend
should this quiet time never end.
Following initial urges
to nibble hedges and trim verges,
goats and ducks, firmly in charge,
would then invite wild life at large –
roe deer, fieldmice, eagles, otters –
to join their band of urban squatters
and help to tidy up the mess
we left them in our hopelessness.
A thorough civic revolution
could be both their and our solution.
With this in mind, I wish good luck
to Brother Goat and Sister Duck!
Older and older
is a tall order.
A widow’s lot
is to be forgotten.
Old friends fewer,
new ones unsure.
Once, letters from abroad,
now the odd Christmas card.
Pains are sharper
and hold faster.
Hearing gets harder,
mean a taxi to the shops.
Days are briefer
as a body grows sleepier.
A son phones,
then leaves you more alone.
Yet too soon cometh
To read poets honoured previously here is a roll call; please click on the name.