About Julia Copus
Julia Copus was born in London in 1969 and grew up in a house with three brothers who were learning to play musical instruments. Two of them later went on to be professional musicians, and Copus has said in interview that in order to have quiet, and a room of her own, she gave up her own trumpet lessons and moved into a caravan in the driveway while she was doing her exams. "For the first time, I truly began to feel that with a notepad and pen I could make my own world; could be whoever -and wherever - I wanted to be."
Copus studied Latin at Durham University, and in 1994, at the age of 24, she won an Eric Gregory Award. Her first full collection The Shuttered Eye, appeared from Bloodaxe a year later and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. The Shuttered Eye subtly reworks myth and fairytale to examine the fragility of childhood, and takes the reader through the fractures and complexities of familial relationships.
In Defence of Adultery (2003) explores the theme of roads that are taken, and considers the possibilities of rewinding time and choosing different roads. The winning poem of the 2002 National Poetry Competition, Breaking The Rule, is included in this collection. Copus often uses scientific metaphors to anchor the metaphysical, and she has explained in interview her particular interest in what quantum-physicists call 'shadow selves', whereby "in every choice we make our world splinters off from another world in which we made the other choice."
This second book also examines the geometries of love, its joys and hurts, and our defencelessness in the face of it. As the title poem begins, "We don't fall in love: it rises through us/the way that certain music does." And love is also like water, as you will hear on this Archive recording: "Tumbling from some far-flung cloud….ever so gently wounding us, making us whole." RV Bailey has written that "Copus has great leaping complex visions, but she's nevertheless reliably attached to reality, to the oddness, the innocent simplicity of things, especially as they relate to humans. Her poems are structured with immense quiet subtlety."
Copus's introductions to her poems on this Archive recording are both intimate and illuminating, and her voice is melodic, enabling us to enjoy the musicality and vibrancy of language of these intricately crafted poems.
This recording was made on the 5th February 2010 at the Audio Workshop London, and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
I've avoided poems that other writers here have recommended, but which otherwise would certainly have been on my list (such as Richard Wilbur's superb 'A Barred Owl', chosen by Andrew Motion)....
The World's Two Smallest Humans Faber, 2012
Julia Copus Reading from Her Poems The Poetry Archive,...
Walking in the Shadows Smith/Doorstop, 1994
The Shuttered Eye Bloodaxe Books, 1995
In Defence of Adultery Bloodaxe Books, 2003
Julia Copus Reading from Her Poems
1Love, Like Water
2In Defence of Adultery
3Hymn to All the Men I'll Never Love
5A Soft-edged Reed of Light
6This is the Poem in which I Have Not Left You
7The Back Seat of My Mother's Car
8Digging the Pond
10Lamb's Electronic Antibiotic
12Glimpses of Caribou
14Moderate Restaurant Clatter
16Miss Haversham's Letter
19Stars Moving Westwards in a Winter Garden
20Esprit de l'Escalier
21An Easy Passage
22Impossible As It Seems
The writer and broadcaster Clive James introduces a few of his favourite poems in the Poetry Archive.