Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Michael Newman

Michael Newman was born in the village of Alderton in 1943, but his first home was at Little Washbourne, where my family kept the pub – The Hobnails. In all, Hobnails was in the family for 256 years, as Michael says,' a Royal lineage, if you like. Living in a pub, I could never make out where the customers went at night. My mother used to say: They've gone to private houses. But why would they want to do that? Weren't they lonely?

Briefly, Michael did study for teaching, but found it was not the career for him. He has been a civil servant, a gardener and a farmworker, and even a security guard. Anything, in fact, that gave him the freedom to be a poet. 'Poems are my public diary,' he says, 'to think the unthinkable, to express the inexpressible.' The Cotswold countryside has always influenced his writing. Ultimately, though, all a poet can do, he says 'is to play with words. That is his raison d'etre. But if a resonance lingers...a phrase sticks...who knows?'

He has been published in several magazines, most notably Envoi, Acumen, Weyfarers, Critical
Quarterly, The Interpreter's House. His family did not intended that he should be a poet. Both his father and my grandmother were science teachers, and that was the path plotted for him, mathematics, in fact. However, both his grandfathers played the violin, the one in a semi-professional symphony orchestra (St.Pauls), the other in a high-class dance band (Lehar, Strauss etc). 'Sometimes art in the blood takes strange forms,' he says, 'and I became a poet.'

One of his biggest moments was winning the Southport International Poetry Competition. The poem came first out of 890 entries, giving him a rather special feeling. He has also won the poetry section of Cheltenham Competitive Festival on four occasions.

However, the Cotswolds have been his passion, and symbolise for him the very bedrock of poetry.

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