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.

Michael Symmons Roberts

Michael Symmons Roberts

Michael Symmons Roberts (b. 1963) is the author of four collections of poetry, and won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry for his most recent book, Corpus. Roberts is a lyric poet with philosophical and metaphysical concerns. These are...

Viral poetry!

Michael Symmons Roberts - 21 November 2007

Being relatively short (usually) poems are often well-suited to including in a blog, or posting on a social site. There are questions about trust and authority as ever - how do you know that the poem you are reading is reproduced in full and in the form intended by the poet? I found a Geoffrey Hill poem reproduced online in the last few months with a stanza missing. On the plus side though, if poems become blogged about, emailed, shared online, that may open the doors to new readers, and rather than undermining the poet's books it may draw people to them. What do you think?

Poetry as Sound

Michael Symmons Roberts - 12 November 2007

Have a listen to Basil Bunting's recording if you don't (or even if you do) know his poetry. He's a poet captivated by music, and convinced that young poets should compose their poems on the tongue rather than the page. What do you think? Inspiring or too far from ordinary speech?

What should poets write about?

Michael Symmons Roberts - 28 October 2007

Are there subjects you - as readers and writers - feel poetry should
or shouldn't take on? In Welsh-speaking Wales the tradition of the
poet reflecting the life of the community continues, with an
expectation of poems to mark births, marriages, deaths, and the
triumphs or tragedies of a particular town or village. Should these
obligations apply to poets writing in English? Are poets shirking their
responsibilities if they don't write about the Iraq War or global
warming? I've always felt that the subjects pick the poet, not vice

and hello again...

Michael Symmons Roberts - 10 October 2007

My Auden reading is mainly preparation for teaching this time, but I'm always stunned by his work when I go back to it. Something about the apparent simplicity and the great complexity at the same time. And he takes all kinds of risks - telling readers what he thinks and believes (and sometimes what they should too), writing very tenderly about love, taking on big ideas in politics and theology. And all done with such formal brilliance. What do you make of him? He still provokes strong responses in readers for and against. And what are you reading?

Sound and Vision

Michael Symmons Roberts - 24 September 2007

I've attended (as I'm sure many of you have) some remarkable poetry readings. When I was in my late teens, I heard Ted Hughes give a reading (as you can on this website) and it changed my sense of the pace, music and tone of his poems forever. His voice is in my head every time I read the poems on the page now, and I'm glad of that. Philip Larkin's deadpan delivery so fits the poems that it's hard (once you've heard it) to hear the poems any other way.

Glossary term


The use of language that is more elevated than seems appropriate

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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