Three Views of The Silence Teacher

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“…what is poetry for, if not to represent the breaking of hearts?”

-Fiona Moore, author of The Only Reason for Time

Assyrian SphinxThe Silence Teacher has the honour of appearing in what is, sadly, the final issue of Sphinx that will carry poetry pamphlet reviews. This online guardian of the the poetry pamphlet has presided with dignity over its cause for some time, and although its other activities will continue, the reviews will be missed.

In this double-barrelled review, Gill Andrews is drawn to the narrative poems, and finds them interesting, affecting, and precise. Marcia Menter considers the seven years of the pamphlet’s making “time enough to shape the raw emotion into a space as quietly resonant as a stone chapel.” She wishes for a bit more joy overall, but concedes that the work is entitled to its intensity. Both reviewers draw out unique and interesting observations, such as the use of fish to convey a sense of being underwater. You can read the full reviews in Sphinx 42 online.

Fiona Moore is no stranger to grief. Her pamphlet The Only Reason for Time, which rightly found its way to the Guardian Best Books of 2013, is a tender and subtle portrayal of the aftermath of losing a spouse. As a fan of her work, I value her thoughts particularly.

She notes how the vestiges of formal verse haunt even the free verse poems in The Silence Teacher, how there is playfulness in the midst of silence’s weight, and spots layers of metaphor in the animal poems. Just to know that these poems were so carefully read by a fellow traveller on this road is a comfort somehow. You can read the full extent of her thoughtful perspective here.

So, this slim, staple-bound creature continues to take on a life of its own.

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Reading from The Silence Teacher at The Troubadour

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“In the dangling conversation / and the superficial sighs / are the borders of our lives.”

-Simon and Garfunkel, “Dangling Conversation”

Robert Peake on stageI just got back from a memorable evening at the Troubadour Cafe in Earls Court. It was my first time reading poems from The Silence Teacher since it came out earlier this year.

Even my persistent cold could not keep me away tonight (though it made one audience member think I was Scottish). The audience was receptive as ever, and I sold out of books.

It was a pleasure to read alongside the robust Hannah Lowe, tender Fiona Moore, hilarious Hilda Sheehan, polished Alison Brackenbury, thoughtful Matt Bryden, reflective Angela France, and inquisitive Kate White. Plus, we had a special appearance by Australian poet Michelle Cahill, and Henry Fajemirokun performed one of my favourite Simon and Garfunkel songs.

Heartfelt thanks to Anne-Marie Fyfe and her team for wonderful evening.

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