About Sebastian Barker

Sebastian Barker (1945–2014) was the author of many books of poetry and editor of The London Magazine. An ex-chairman of the Poetry Society, he was a director of several literary festivals, including the Royal Berkshire Poetry Festival, and held various writer-in-residence positions; he was the recipient of awards from the Arts Council, the Society of Authors and the Royal Literary Fund. The Dream of Intelligence was named as a Book of the Year in both The Independent and The Spectator, and his book, The Erotics of God, was The Tablet's Book of the Year in 2005. His career included stints as a furniture restorer, carpenter, fireman and cataloguer at Sotheby's, and is perhaps best summed up by his autobiographical poem 'Curriculum Vitae'.

Barker is a companiable poet, as shown by poems such as 'For Eddie Linden On His 70th Birthday'; other poems carry dedications to family and friends (including Harold Pinter), and many are written to address a person directly. Through these, we are made privy to relationships which range from friendship to parental, romantic or erotic love. This does not exclude a wider world; while 'Tell of the Sad Derangement of the Heart' presents sociable, human moments where 'Friends are dropping by' and 'The fondest lovers yawn', it encloses those moments with others where humans become deranged creatures, then links these, using rhyme, with sorrows that deranged nations may cause each other. Beyond this, in a poem such as 'Holy the Heart on which We Hang Our Hope', Barker examines the way a mortal may interact with the divine, in which the obsessive attention demanded by the subject is mirrored in the use of a form developed from the repetitions of a villanelle.

This recording shows that Barker was firmly committed to the virtues of rhyme - almost every poem here makes use of it, some in the form of hypnotic refrains and tight forms, as in 'The Uncut Stone', with others ranging from jaunty occasional verse to psalm-like seriousness. Barker's powerful reading voice has a refreshing refusal to restrain the emotion behind the poems; he recalls his student experience, in Acumen, of hearing his headmaster reading the Song of Songs in Canterbury Cathedral as "daring and authentic", which may also describe the reading we hear in this performance.

His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 21 September 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Selected bibliography

Guarding the Border: Selected Poems Paperback,...

Buy

The Matter of Europe, Menard Press 2005

The Dream of Intelligence, Littlewood Arc 1992 - out of...

Boom, Free Man's Press 1985 - out of print

A Nuclear Epiphany, Friday Night Fish 1984 - out of...

A Fire in the Rain, Martin Brian...

Epistles, Martin Brian & O'Keeffe 1980 - out of print

On the Rocks, Martin Brian...

The Dragon and the Lion, Quill Books 1976 - out of print

Prizes

1997 Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

Prize website

1976 Arts Council Award

Prize website

1990 Society of Authors Award

Prize website

1993 Royal Literary Fund Award

Prize website

Recordings

Sebastian Barker

Sebastian Barker Reading from his Poems

1Tilty Mill

£0.89

2The Green Aphis

£0.89

3The War of Watch and Pen

£0.89

4Bluebells

£0.89

5Shockwaves

£0.89

6The Walled Garden

£0.89

7On the Rocks

£0.89

8Before the Time of the Sundial 1, 3, 4, 8

£0.89

9The Hand in the Well

£0.89

10Go, Gracious Words

£0.89

11People

No preview avaialable.£0.89

12Poetry

No preview avaialable.£0.89

13Justice

No preview avaialable.£0.89

14The Light on the River

No preview avaialable.£0.89

15In the Cradle of the Poets

£0.89

16Visitation in the Mountains

£0.89

17Daughter

£0.89

18Spring Day Near Reepham

£0.89

19A Sealed Box for Xanthi

£0.89

20Strike the Lovely Dumb

£0.89

21Undone by Love

£0.89

22Drinking Song

£0.89

23A Love Song to Eros

£0.89

24Being Here

£0.89

25The Sage of the Cambrian Mountains

£0.89

26The Dancing Crocodile

£0.89

27Curriculum Vitae

£0.89

28Katie

£0.89

29A Book

£0.89

30Young Woman Dancing

No preview avaialable.£0.89

31A Small Ballet of Light

No preview avaialable.£0.89

32The Lilies of the Field

£0.89

33Sex

£0.89

34Take hands. The moon

£0.89

35On the Anvil of the Tongue

£0.89

36The Visitors

£0.89

37Tell of the Sad Derangement of the Mind

£0.89

39Holy the Heart on which We Hang Our Hope

£0.89

40In the Valley of the Moselle

£0.89

38Athenagoras

£0.89

41The Rites Mysterious

£0.89

42The Uncut Stone

£0.89

43The Conscience of the Real

£0.89

44Walk with Me

£0.89

45The Fluting Trumpeteer

£0.89

46The Elderberry Tree

£0.89

47The Articles of Prayer

£0.89

48Rosaceous Wonders

£0.89

49The Stranger in the Pass

£0.89

50For Eddie Linden on his 70th Birthday

£0.89

51For Glyn Hughes on His 70th Birthday

£0.89

52Spirit of the River

£0.89

A tour of the Archive with David Almond

I love this archive. It's an important reminder that all literature has its roots in the human voice. Black print on...

Featured Guided Tours


Books by Sebastian Barker