In these affecting, graceful poems, Anthony Wilson takes time to reflect on a life: ‘We cannot grasp what we have been given, or can give back’ and so offers his reader an essential book of (re)discovery, encounter and a true value of the present.
Anthony Wilson’s poems are often meditative and always very, very readable, but don’t be fooled; the avuncular voice belies a restless interrogation of faith, love and loss, and Wilson moves from moments of everyday comedy to a wounded reckoning with the afterlife of cancer survival and poems of intense anger and grief.
Here are the first and last poems in the book:
Teaching Writing Theory
On Tuesday I discovered if my cancer
had returned. Later I discussed teaching writing
to six-year-olds. We spun our arms
like windmills, then made chopstick-motions
with our fingers mirroring the motor control
functions we daily take for granted
even less think about as we stare at the page.
We looked at motivational theory. Taxonomies
and heuristics jammed the white-board,
a cacophony of formulations we all wanted
to witness taking flight. During self-study,
I watched students tap-tapping at mobiles
and tablets, all the while sustaining complex
discussions about pedagogy and dress codes
for their forthcoming Christmas parties.
If they were nervous of the outcome
of their assignments, none of them showed it.
First published at And Other Poems
Poem of Leaves
I lie down in the leaves,
beneath me the earth.
I pull them over me
like a coat. I disappear
under the leaves
and sink into the earth
where I become one
with the place I am known
whose name has not forgotten
my name, place of rest,
place of leaves melting
into bone, the earth,
this earth, my coat,
with my name in it.
First published in The Tree Line: Poems for Trees, Woods and People, edited by Michael McKimm (Worple Press, 2017)