John Glenday on reading

May 4, 2011

In anticipation of our glorious Reading Poetry for Pleasure course at Moniack Mhor in June, our Lilias turns her beady questioning stare on John Glenday. John will be Guest poet and reader at Moniack, alongside our director Robyn and Lilias. His third collection, Grain, was published by Picador in November 2009 to ecstatic acclaim, and shortlisted in 2010 for the Ted Hughes Prize for Excellence in New Poetry and for the Griffin Poetry Prize 2010. His first collection, The Apple Ghost won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and his second, Undark, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. You can read more about John in our A-Z of poets and listen to our podcast with him here. There are still some places left on this special weekend away; the booking deadline is 1st June.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.

When do you get to read?

I read in the quiet corners of the day – first thing in the morning, before anyone else gets up;  I often read out loud to my wife last thing at night; and I’ve always a few poetry collections in the loo…

I live for books
and light to read them in

What was the last poem you pressed on a friend, with a manic gleam in  your eye?

It was that wonderful Rorschach-like elegy by Julia Copus – Kim’s Clothes. How did she write that?

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no pleasure like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

If poems were food, name one fancy Heston Blumenthal-style starter, one hearty breakfast favourite and one guilty after-pub snack.

Kay Ryan’s ‘Silence’ with a rocket salad.

Full English Auden (served all day) – ‘Twelve Songs’’ (especially the tasty ‘O lurcher loving collier, black as night’)

A family bag of salt and vinegar Wendy Copes – ‘A Nursery Rhyme’ (in the style of William Wordsworth)

The pigs sleep in the sty: the bookman comes

What’s in your current reading pile, warts and all? (list the pulp fiction and the gardening catalogues too..) 

I must admit, I’m still on page 50 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also November by Sean O’Brien; The Hare with Amber Eyes; Delete this at your Peril (because I was born in Broughty Ferry) and One Thousand Nights and Counting (Selected poems of Glyn Maxwell). Oh, and A History of the World in One Hundred Objects (that’s the one I’ve been reading out loud to my wife).

And finally, John, you already have Shakespeare and the Bible on the desert island. You can keep one poem and one luxury. What’ll they be?

Och, I’d take a longish poem to keep me occupied – the Mahabharata, fully annotated. But  I’ll also sneak a few extra poems on to my desert island without anyone noticing. It’s called memorising. My one luxury would be an astronomical telescope to enjoy those wonderfully clear, unlit night skies.

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