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Is Hull the Most Poetic City in England?
At The Telegraph, Charlotte Runcie muses on Hull’s poetic history, and a few of its legendary inhabitants.
Philip Larkin wrote the foreword to a 1982 anthology of new poets from Hull. His praise for his home city is largely muted: he calls it “as good a place to write in as any”, a backdrop that gives poets a feeling that they have permission to write. It is, he says, present but “unseen” in the poems of the people who write there. The poet Peter Porter has been more emphatic, calling Hull “the most poetic city in England”.
Today, thanks to a thriving English department at the university, there are plenty of contemporary poets linked to Hull. Carol Rumens, Christopher Reid, Andrew Motion, Tom Paulin, Douglas Dunn and David Kennedy have all had connections to the teaching faculty or spent time as students, while Sean O’Brien, who was brought up in Hull, has won almost every literary prize going.
Dunn’s 1982 selection of poems was a catalogue for a purple patch in Hull’s poetic history, inspired by Dunn’s time as a student at the university, with poems from emerging contemporary names including Peter Disbury and Sean O’Brien.
The majority of contributors to that book had some connection to the university. Larkin, most famously, was its chief librarian until 1985, and it was under his stewardship that the library expanded in stock, budget and physical structure. With his commitment to investing in the university’s literary resources, he is at least partly responsible for the poets the city produced during his tenure, and its subsequent reputation as a place for poets.
Read more at The Telegraph.