Michael Tolkien

  1. By nature I am a sculptor. I like to chip and chip away to find the essentials.

     However you date it, the start

     Of spring is a change of heart,

     And even lights coming on, near or far,

     Play their part.      

(from MARCH THE THIRD: Exposures, p.52)


2.    Verse challenges you to imply rather than explain.

     He will fuel their journey back,

     but who can expect such stomachs

     to hunger for more than grain and meat?      

(from BEFORE THE FEEDING: Taking Cover, p.35)

  3. It gives freedom to abandon restraints of rational exposition and to work in metaphor.

     Lamps stake out moments

     of promise; but there are no

     flaws or snags in between

     for loosely-clothed couples

     who find they are nearly

     in heaven and holding hands

     to reinvent nights of bazaars

     and cafes without aim or end.      

(from REFRACTIONS: Exposures, p.34)


4.   To pay tribute to the subconscious poetry in everyday speech.

     Best pork sausages are Charlie Calder's life line.

     Goes to show how oats and barley pass for meat.


     Pigs trotters do well. Good cheap fare, they reckon.

     So be it if bone and gristle taste like meat.


     O I've got prime steak and best loin of pork,

     and those who know me know it's no easy meat.      

(from BUTCHER'S GHAZAL: No Time For Roses, p.21)


5.  To emulate rich, diverse English lyrical heritage that's got under skin and into bones.

     Saw-tooth groins of dog rose end

     a hedge by hilltop gates where fields meet

     and fall a hundred feet.


     It flowers for a day or two in June

     but never fails to juice its finger tips

     with a shower of hips.      (from ROSEHIPS: Outstripping Gravity, p.24)


  6. Give intense internal shape to moments and places celebrated for themselves.

     Another year's tilting away.

     A last triangle of sunlight

     has folded back the lawn's

     far corner, picking out

     a bindweed's shrunken white

     lantern. Sign of warmth

     to a wavering Red Admiral.

     Such an embroidered blaze

     as it opens wide, and finds

     no comfort. The only one

     warm me this season,

     and never too late.

                                Call it

     ‘Rare Admiral', harbinger

     of inner fire and outer

     scarcity. Wrapped round you

     like a shawl, it won't fray.       

(from PATCHWORK: Exposures, p.49)


7.   It's wayward, refuses to settle down or feel finished : a poet must learn to be a snake charmer and put up with a lot of bites in the process.



Why Write Verse?