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.
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
Sebastian Barker Reading from his Poems
2The Green Aphis
3The War of Watch and Pen
6The Walled Garden
7On the Rocks
8Before the Time of the Sundial 1, 3, 4, 8
9The Hand in the Well
10Go, Gracious Words
14The Light on the River
15In the Cradle of the Poets
16Visitation in the Mountains
18Spring Day Near Reepham
19A Sealed Box for Xanthi
20Strike the Lovely Dumb
21Undone by Love
23A Love Song to Eros
25The Sage of the Cambrian Mountains
26The Dancing Crocodile
30Young Woman Dancing
31A Small Ballet of Light
32The Lilies of the Field
34Take hands. The moon
35On the Anvil of the Tongue
37Tell of the Sad Derangement of the Mind
39Holy the Heart on which We Hang Our Hope
40In the Valley of the Moselle
41The Rites Mysterious
42The Uncut Stone
43The Conscience of the Real
44Walk with Me
45The Fluting Trumpeteer
46The Elderberry Tree
47The Articles of Prayer
49The Stranger in the Pass
50For Eddie Linden on his 70th Birthday
51For Glyn Hughes on His 70th Birthday
52Spirit of the River
As a university teacher who lives in an inland city surrounded by mountains, streams, and rivers, I sometimes have a...