Poet in Residence

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation. You are welcome to explore our archive of past residencies and read some of the lively and varied discussions you'll find there.

Valerie Bloom

Valerie Bloom

A Valerie Bloom reading is an uplifting experience, one that can coax even a shy British poetry audience into joyful participation, hands in the air to carry imaginary cake boxes, as they join in with the chorus to 'Pinda Cake'. She...


Valerie Bloom - 4 July 2006

It's my turn to do the school run so at 8.00 a.m I get my daughter and neighbour's son into the car and head off. The other two girls who usually go with us are doing their GCSEs so they won't be coming today. The traffic is reasonable this morning so we make good time.That's good, I might be able to get back in time to do some work before I have to collect them from school.

what language

Valerie Bloom - 28 June 2006

In the end, many of my poems choose the language they wanted to be written in. I'd sometimes start a poem in English and find it would not progress beyond the first line. I'd switch to Patois and the poem would practically write itself. The same was true the other way around.

Paul Farley is our Poet in Residence next term

Valerie Bloom - 26 June 2006

A copy of Paul's full recording on CD will be sent to the person who posts the most thought-provoking response during the autumn term.

Whatever you have to say about poetry - as a reader, a writer or a listener - we'd love you to share it with other young people visiting these pages. It could be a question for Paul about his writing and working life, or a comment on one of his poems featured here in the Archive. It could be an observation on a poem you've been studying in school, one you've stumbled across and found intriguing or one you're working on yourself.

Performance Poetry

Valerie Bloom - 14 June 2006

Some readers may raise their brows at the idea that poetry can be anything more that the written word. Anything else would be considered a distraction. Of course there are poetry performances which leave the audience less than satisfied, and asking the prickly question we keep coming back to; is that poetry? On the other hand, some performances can move in a way the words alone might not be able to, by giving them a new dimension. Then again there are powerful performances of poems which, when you read them afterwards can leave you decidedly underwhelmed.

Poems that move

Valerie Bloom - 22 May 2006

The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde was the first poem which reduced me to tears, but close behind was Thomas Hood's Sally Simpkins Lament. In the latter case they were tears of laughter and I am unable to read it with a straight face. Neither is on the Archive unfortunately, but they can be found on the web. I tend to rate a poem by the degree to which it moves me. What about you? Do you want to be shown a side of the subject you've never seen before? Do you expect a strong rhythm or do you want to be moved to tears or laughter?

favourite poets

Valerie Bloom - 10 May 2006

One question I get asked frequently is 'Who is your favourite poet?' It's difficult to choose one because there are so many poets I admire, and some favourite poems may not necessarily be written by a favourite poet. But if I had to choose a couple of poets who are no longer with us, for the poets Hall of Fame, I'd plump for Robert Frost and Charles Causley. My favourite poem by Robert Frost is 'The Road Not Taken', and if you type it into a search engine you can read it online.

Glossary term

Syllabic Verse

Poetry written to a scheme of counting syllables, whether or not they are stressed.

A tour of the Archive with Chris Pearson

When choosing poems for my tour, I had just one criterion in mind: that each poem must allow me to comment on the...

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