Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This interview is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

in conversation with Maurice Rutherford Carol Rumens

CAROL RUMENS: Who were the first poets whose work was important to you?

MAURICE RUTHERFORD: Among the anthologies I found in the public library was The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse, chosen by Philip Larkin. Some of the contents were such a revelation to me that I wanted to own a copy. This was the first poetry book I ever bought - the first of many. Perhaps it was to be expected that I should start by reading the poets of around my generation. But, although I share Larkin's year of birth, his poems were not the first to capture my attention, but those dealing with World War II experiences, poems by Charles Causley, Keith Douglas, Vernon Scannell and especially Henry Reed, whose 'Naming of Parts' showed me a picture from my own life as an eighteen-year-old virgin recruit being introduced to the Lee Enfield rifle whilst daydreaming of other things (not least of all, sex). I was made suddenly aware that deeply moving poems could be written about life as I knew or had known it.

Before discovering earlier poets such as Edward Thomas and Thomas Hardy I found the work of another Thomas, a Welshman writing in English, and it was with him that I first experienced 'hearing' the music of poetry lifting from the printed page, the music of language so beautiful that I couldn't not thrill to it; a beauty to bring tears. It is to R.S. Thomas I ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image