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This report is taken from PN Review 211, Volume 39 Number 5, May - June 2013.

Peter Scupham at 80 Peter Davidson
The poet Peter Scupham celebrated his eightieth birthday on the 24th of February. In a long and productive career, since his birth in Liverpool in 1933, he has been involved with writing and literature in many ways - as teacher and editor (his selections from Golding's Ovid were published by Carcanet in 2005) as well as poet. He has also been a publisher (he ran the Mandeville Press with John Mole for many years) and bookseller. Since his first collection The Small Containers in 1972, he has published eleven more so far, some with Oxford University Press, some with Anvil, including a Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2003). His most recent collection Borrowed Landscapes (Carcanet, 2011) has at its centre his subtle, many-voiced verse memoir of a university education in the 1950s under the threat of the Cold War and the Suez Crisis.

He shares with Sean O'Brien a fascination for early and mid-twentieth-century England, and writes about it in an equally oblique and inventive way, both being precisely evocative in their poetry rather than generally nostalgic. As O'Brien finds his poetry in the detective story, in the world of old green-covered Penguins read on the train, so Peter Scupham finds poetry in the ghost story, in shadows gathering round an isloated house, a single lit room in the dark East Anglian landscape:

The daylight shutters down, the white moths climb,
The house aches into whisper and desire...
The callers gather, you are not at home. ...


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