One of my pleasures this autumn was introducing Peter Sansom and Michael Schmidt before their joint reading at the Ilkley Literature Festival. And when I received this invitation I was immediately struck by my sense of the invaluable contribution they have made to the life of poetry in the UK. From their different bases in the north of England, they have given major opportunities to poets across a whole generation. Both have decades of experience in the publishing of poetry: Schmidt over fifty years with Carcanet, and more than forty with PN Review; Sansom over thirty years with the Poetry Business, which includes the imprint Smith/Doorstop and The North magazine. At the same time as promoting and working on the texts of others, they have also managed to maintain a fidelity to their own craft as poets – something for which we should be equally grateful.
At Ilkley, Sansom and Schmidt were reading from their latest collections – Lanyard and Talking to Stanley on the Telephone. These are their sixth and ninth volumes respectively. In these new collections, both poets are in fine form and both are able to use their accumulated wealth of experience – and indeed their age – to great creative purpose. Both feel confident enough to play with time and memory and both use the vagaries of memory to wonderful poetic effect.
Both collections acknowledge a fellow poet: Sansom has an epigraph by Stanley Cook, who lived and worked in Yorkshire until his death in 2010, and Schmidt, in ...
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