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This article is taken from PN Review 271, Volume 49 Number 5, May - June 2023.

Puckishness and Joviality Evan Jones
I spent the month of September 2005 settling in Manchester – beginning a PhD in Art History I was barely prepared for in a city I was barely prepared for. There was paperwork and the filling out of bank forms, mostly, and queues. Weeks of this. Daily walks to the university to figure out something – and a queue for the privilege. This was in order, that wasn’t. By October – though it was Christmas before anything was sorted – I felt I had to do something else. I went online and saw that a poet named John McAuliffe was teaching at the university. John was also, if I remember right, a recent migrant to the city. We met for coffee and talked poetry in a small fry-up place on Oxford Road that may still be there, just north of the Whitworth Art Gallery. Was it my suggestion or John’s? I didn’t know many places. It was good talk, though, and it has led onto almost two decades of more talk. John asked if I was going to hear Les Murray read that afternoon. This event was organised by Carcanet at the Central Library. I hadn’t known anything about it, unconnected, but moved things around – queueing – so I could go.

This brought me to Michael Schmidt. He met us – he seemed to be shaking hands with everyone – at the room door at the library. He was puckish, jovial, complaining to strangers like me that Murray read too quickly. I had read Lives of the Poets, purchased remaindered in Toronto, and seen the occasional Fyfield ...


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