As I write, it is late March and through the window I can see in my garden the yellow spikes of forsythia which seem almost fluorescent against the drab background of the other still dormant shrubs and trees. I have memories of descending into Manchester airport at this time of year after academic conferences spent in the luminous desert and mountain light of Arizona, Colorado, and California. Down through the grey drizzle the wavering wings of the jet offer glimpses of the tiny plots of English gardens with their smattering of patched sheds and sulphurous forsythia flares. Many of these are the relics of the plantings made by the first occupants of our much derided early twentieth-century English suburbs. Where these garden plots have been allowed to mature – where they have managed to escape block paving and plastic lawns – they offer greater biodiversity than much of the intensively farmed agricultural land outside the cities and they can still signal, with some verve, the arrival of spring.
At this year’s Leeds Litt Fest the University of Leeds Poetry Centre celebrated this arrival on March 1 with ‘Spring Rhythm’, a series of readings by the poets Rachel Bower, Kate Simpson, Kimberly Campanello, Charlotte Eichler, Matt Howard, Jess Richards, and Zaffar Kunial. We offered suitable apologies to Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The poets interpreted spring in a rich variety of forms ranging from eco-poetical discourse through prose poems and found materials to catalogues and rhymed lyrics. Their knowledges stretched across climate change theory through to ...
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