Holidays, not term time

26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Never having succeeded at school, I’ve always thought of poetry as the holidays, not term time.

Hugo Williams

In November I am going to have the privilege of participating at the 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. It will be my second time at the Festival, and my fourth visit overall. I have just received the programme, so it must be true.

I am also a judge for this year’s Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

The prospect of the holiday reading that lies in front of me – relaxed and studious, intuitive yet intense – is a delicious one.

As a result I won’t be here as much as usual over the next few weeks.

I’ll be posting more news about this on Saturday. In the meantime, I wish all of my readers a very happy summer of reading.


The Voice You Hear When You Read Silently


is not silent, it is a speaking-

out-loud voice in your head: it is spoken,

a voice is saying it

as you read. It’s the writer’s words,

of course, in a literary sense

his or her voice, but the sound

of that voice is the sound of your voice.

Not the sound your friends know

or the sound of a tape played back

but your voice

caught in the dark cathedral

of your skull, your voice heard

by an internal ear informed by internal abstracts

and what you know by feeling,

having felt. It is your voice

saying, for example, the word barn

that the writer wrote

but the barn you say

is a barn you know or knew. The voice

in your head, speaking as you read,

never says anything neutrally – some people

hated the barn they knew,

some people love the barn they know

so you hear the word loaded

and a sensory constellation

is lit: horse-gnawed stalls,

hayloft, black heat tape wrapping

a water pipe, a slippery

spilled chirr of oats from a split sack,

the bony, filthy haunches of cows…

And barn is only a noun -no verb

or subject has entered the sentence yet!

The voice you hear when you read to yourself

is the clearest voice: you speak it

speaking to you.


Thomas Lux from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995 (Mariner Books)


  1. Even as I read this poem I realised how true this observation is, for the only barns I know are the ones I have seen in little children’s books or seen in movies. And even as the words describe the barn, I can see everything stated in different places elsewhere, but not in the barn. My version of the barn can only be visualised from the outside. Amazing how insightful this piece is. And why each of us can read the same piece and get different things out of it! thank you for sharing, congratulations on your participation, and I will miss reading your posts while you are away.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. While I am ‘away’ I have devised a way of not being away.
      I’m going to upload older pieces from my archive, so you will still have something to read.
      More news on Saturday.
      As ever with thanks


  2. That is food for thought! As I have a sore throat and croaky voice, mercifully, the one in my head is `normally mine`.

    Enjoy the holidays

    Sent from Windows Mail


  3. Enjoy the festival! And I’ve been wondering how life (or rather, work related life) has been going for you? Much love and happy hols Olwen X

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thank you. I’m not away away away, just having a recharge. I’ll be putting older posts up from the blog archive every two days. Plus one or two surprise new posts. So it won’t be completely quiet. Never that.
      As ever


  4. Thomas Lux will be added to my bookshelf very soon…you’ve introduced me to a poet whose work I’m enjoying and will want to bring to students when I teach again this fall. Thank you for this, Anthony.
    Aldeburgh will be grateful to have you as part of the programme. Enjoy every minute of it and bring back news from the Aldeburgh world!


    1. So pleased you like the Lux poem. A new Selected is on its way I hear. Very exciting. Somewhere on my site I have his poem The People of the other Village. I think it will blow you away.


  5. What a poem. thanks for bringing it to my attention. Happy August to you, wishing you a stock pile of words and thoughts to follow.


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