Image by Jemimah Kuhfeld
About Jane Draycott
Jane Draycott studied at King's College London and Bristol, where she took a postgraduate degree in Medieval English Literature. Her most recent poetry collection, Over, (Carcanet, 2009) was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. Her first two collections No Theatre (Smith/Doorstop, 1996) and Prince Rupert's Drop (OUP, 1999) were nominated for Forward Poetry Prizes, while The Night Tree was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In 2002 she was winner of the Keats Shelley Prize for Poetry, and nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.
Draycott's collaborative works include sound montages and an audio archive made with London's working watermen in her role as poet-in-residence at the River and Rowing Museum, Henley, and a short collection, Tideway, illustrated by Peter Hay (Two Rivers Press, 2002). She is a contributor to Essentially British (2010), Psychopoetica (2011) and A New Decameron: 10 poets for Pasolini (2013), all curated by Simon Barraclough; she has also made award-winning audio-montages with Elizabeth James for BBC Radio 3.
Draycott lectures in Creative Writing at Oxford University and the University of Lancaster, and is a tutor for the Arvon Foundation and the Poetry School, London. Her most recent work, a translation of the 14th-century dream vision Pearl is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and a Times Stephen Spender prizewinner.
Draycott's immersion in teaching and collaboration reflects her serious dedication to the possibilities presented by poetry. Across these six poems selected by the poet, her deft and melodic handling of language skilfully positions and directs the work, adjusting a poem's path and pace to her subject. Her poems share a quiet and half-sung quality, but are also united by a firm and concise visual imagination; Draycott's images appear as the best explanations for the emotional presences in her poems - her treatment of language and occasion is at once a sort of illumination and a diagnosis. It is this ability to attune to the surrounding world - whether to the forces that rule underwater spaces, or to the duel pulls of affection and fear that balance a portrait of her daughter driving alone for the first time - that marks Draycott's poems out as constructions that, though light and seemingly composed on the breath, are memorable testaments to lived experience.
This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 13 March 2013 at The Soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Jane Draycott's favourite poetry sayings:
It is a quality, a sort of generosity... And that generosity is the chief deed of poetry against the fact of death. Every line of verse is doing its best to wriggle free of death. The whole achieved poem is a deed of life in the face, in the teeth of death. – David Constatine
Poetry's a zoo in which you keep demons and angels – Les Murray
Poetry also retains its unique and near-magical property … if you can remember a poem, you possess it wholly: to remember a poem is the poem, and it has become, quite literally, a part of you. – Don Paterson
Jane Draycott Reading from her Poems
1We Shall Have no Clouds Today
2Salvation as a Diving Suit
4In Memory of Henry West
8No 3 from Uses for the Thames
14The girls' book of model making
16The Longest Day
My short tour of the Poetry Archive is designed to show its range, as well as the strength-in-depth of its holdings...