Saturday, 25 October 2014


1  Which is the only city with a railway station named after a novel?
2  Which is the only city with a purpose-built national poetry library?
3  Which city has the tallest memorial to a writer?

Yes, you're right, Edinburgh.

I was reminded of these facts when I caught up with one of BBC Radio Scotland's series A History of Scottish Literature ("Wizards of the North") - a fascinating weekly programme covering 700 years of literary history.  Highly recommended.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the literary time scale, I went to Grasmere last week for the Faber New Poets' reading.  One of the new poets is Zaffar Kunial, the current poet-in-residence at the Wordsworth Trust.  Having had tantalising glimpses of his poetry ("Hill Speak" and "Placeholder") in the Trust's magazine The Messenger, I was looking forward to hearing Zaffar read from his first micro-collection Faber New Poets 11.

I was not disappointed.  Zaffar was on home ground, often read from memory and cast a spell over the audience with his thoughtful, considered, well-crafted poems.  He's a new poet to watch - I hope he will go great places.  The poems repay several re-readings and I'm enjoying doing just that and appreciating the depth of thought and allusion they contain.

Wouldn't it be nice if Faber had given his pamphlet a title and not just a number?

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