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This report is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

Letter from Cambridge Clive Wilmer

On 12 July three interrelated groups of friends, all admirers of Thom Gunn, gathered together to celebrate his poetry and his life. Most of us had Cambridge connections, so it seemed appropriate that we should meet at Trinity College, where Gunn had studied from 1951 to 1954. We were a collection of poets, critics and teachers: Peter Carpenter, Margaret de Vaux, Kevin Jackson, Adrian Poole, Claire Preston, Peter Swaab, Michael Vince, Martin Wallen, Robert Wells and myself. The occasion was informal and full of spontaneous anecdote and reminiscence, but to give the occasion some shape, we began with a short programme of readings prepared by three of the Cambridge residents. The poems read were: `The Secret Sharer' (a poem written in Gunn's final year at Cambridge and set in his Trinity rooms), `In Santa Maria del Popolo', `Considering the Snail', `Touch', `Rites of Passage', `Yoko', `Courage: A Tale', `Philemon and Baucis' and `The J Car'. There was then a kind of free-for-all of readings from the floor: `Autobiography', `The Old Woman' (from Positives), `To Isherwood Dying', `Three', `Famous Friends', `To Donald Davie in Heaven', `Rapallo', `Epitaph (carved in the AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park)', `Nasturtium', `A Waking Dream', `The Allegory of the Wolf-Boy', `From the Wave', `Keats at Highgate', `Falstaff' and `Street Song'. Peter Swaab also read the closing paragraph of the essay `Homosexuality in Robert Duncan's Poetry' and I closed the proceedings with `My Sad Captains', a poem about friends and heroes, to celebrate a particularly splendid ...


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