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This article is taken from PN Review 173, Volume 33 Number 3, January - February 2007.

Hooked on a Dab of Song: R.F. Langley's Journals Julia Blackburn

We live in the same village and along the same little Suffolk street as the poet R.F. Langley. I saw him just a few moments ago, collecting yellow fallen apples in his front garden, and I'll probably see him again this evening at a production of four short Chekov plays in the local arts centre. He is a shy, elegant, quiet man, an observer, or as he puts it, 'someone who keeps the grip on the reality of things, to keep steady'.

The Journals are all about the grip, the reality and the things themselves. Langley first started writing them in 1970 and the selection he has made is a small fraction of the whole. He says he tends to write in the morning about some thing which happened on the previous day, 'if it seemed likely to be worth it'. He is not much concerned with human life or the personal drama of birth, marriage and death, but with ways of seeing and what he calls 'the psychology of objects... emotions in an internal landscape'.

So what you get here is the face of a spider, sunlight flickering on a wall, the 'gentle berry' of the full moon in total eclipse, a robin in a bush, an empty glass, the memory of a painting and other fleeting details of existence which echo Caliban's words of reassurance, 'be not afeard, the isle is full of noises'.

I also like to watch things, but ...


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