'Queueing for the Sun in Walbrook', the title poem of this, U.A. Fanthorpe's eighth collection, encapsulates many of the preoccupations that have marked her work over the years - including a love of the past, and ways of bringing it to life; and an awareness of the acts of rescue that, against the odds, have gone to save learning, buildings, people and language.
Like Boethius in his prison cell, U. A. Fanthorpe smuggles valuables through darkness; like Morris, rescuing a roof, a tower, a barn, she saves for us people, moments, details in life that we'd never have noticed without her wise but compassionate gaze.
It's the small things that matter: the midget acts of gallantry of ordinary people - a midwife, a cleaner, doctors and nurses 'working on and on', road-gritters - even poets. There are raised eyebrows for those who play safe, for academics and examiners, for the stupid and the careless. Power and money come in for a sterner touch.
U. A. Fanthorpe is one of England's best, most popular, and prolific poets who is renowned for her entertaining and moving readings. In 2001 she was awarded the CBE for services to literature. In 2003 she was awarded The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
‘U.A. Fanthorpe is a national treasure.'
Liz Lochhead, Poetry Book Society Bulletin
'Her poetry is one of the delights of the age.' Michael Foot
'one of England's most consistently engaging poets.'
Carol Ann Duffy, Poetry Review
Libraries at War
The more you destroy them, the louder we call for books.
The war-weary read and read, fed by a Library
Service for Air-raid Shelters and Emergency Teams.
We can still come across them, the pinched economy
Utility war-time things, their coarse paper, their frail covers.
Such brightness in the dark: Finnegan's Wake,
The Grapes of Wrath, The Last Tycoon, Four Quartets,
Put out More Flags . On benches, underground,
In Plymouth, Southampton, Gateshead, Glasgow, in the Moscow Metro
They sit, wearing a scatter of clothing, caught off-guard,
The readers reading, needing it, while terror
Mobilizes in sound-waves overhead,
Lost in the latest. Something long. Or funny.
Fire, fear, dictators all have it in for books.
The more you destroy them, the louder we call.
When the last book's returned, there is nothing but the dark.
QUEUING FOR THE SUN
Cover illustration: 'Mithras Temple Under Excavation' by E. Jessop Price
(Courtesy of Museum of London).
Publication: MAY 2003 (92 pages laminated paperback).
ISBN 10: 1904324088, ISBN 13: 9781904324089