Keith Hutson is the new Featured Writer and I am thrilled about this: his poems are just bursting with vitality and fun and joy. Just as he is himself! His 31 sonnets in Routines are laugh-out-loud funny while somehow not forgetting the hard lives of the performers and the endless routine of their acts. Published in the understated plain livery of the wondrous Poetry Salzburg you couldn’t begin to guess what lies inside.
Keith is a brilliant performer of his work too as well as a generous workshop companion. I spent a few days with him a couple of years ago on one of Kim Moore’s lovely courses in St Ives and he was one of the lives and souls of the group. And so I was very glad to catch up with him at the Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival in Falmouth a few weeks ago when he came to read his brilliant short-listed poem. And I think I got almost the last copy of his pamphlet, Routines which is only £5.00 and worth far more! You can get it here from Poetry Salzburg.
I can’t think why he hasn’t had a collection published before now as his poems are always turning up in magazines like The North, Poetry Salzburg, The Rialto and I found this one on Ink, Sweat and Tears. (Hope all right to use the whole thing) It shows a characteristic elegance and deft control as well as an affectionate tendresse:
Fine for an hour, then dull, despite a summer sun.
Green tedium. But do beware,
if nudged a bit, this game is good
at slowly rolling on and on and on:
little genuflections – bows, knee-bends,
cupped hands, unfolding arms,
weave in the dying light their tapestry
of shadows and perpetuate
the minor knocks, near misses, clusterings
and calls of ‘Way too heavy, Jim!’
into a never-ending winding-down,
a loop of letting go.
Keith keeps sheep on a hillside in Halifax and has a dog called Eric. I read that he coaches boxing. I know he is also a runner. He is now on the editorial board of Poetry Salzburg and also travels the country reading from ‘Routines’. Not surprisingly he is also often in the rosettes in competitions.
There’s an excellent review here which also includes some thoughts about the whole culture of Music Hall and its impact: ‘Hutson displays a limber regard for, among others, the Petrarchan, Elizabethan and Miltonic sonnet forms, and he as adroitly handles the volta whether it occurs after six, eight or twelve lines; he even provides accomplished sonnets in tercets with a concluding couplet.’ Impressive, you see!
If you get a chance to hear Keith read, then don’t hesitate. Drop everything and go. And get yourself a copy of Routines for your own stocking as well as someone else’s.