Julia Copus at Woodstock

It was the second Woodstock Poetry festival in Oxfordshire this weekend. This is an up and coming festival and I didn’t know about it last year. So with the assistance of Cassandra the satnav I and a friend set off on Saturday to hear Alice Oswald recite Memorial in the entirely appropriate setting of the Woodstock Methodist chapel. I’ve previously written about Memorial and it was just as mesmerising to hear it for a second time

Next on the bill was Julia Copus. I like her style of poems and this was a chance to hear them in a smaller setting than the TS Eliot prize readings of 2012. Her most recent collection is  The World’s Two Smallest Humans .
She is credited with having ‘invented’ the mirror poem in which the lines of the second verse repeat those of the first but in reverse order. As she charmingly and disarmingly explained she thinks this form has been around for a lot longer than her. One of my favourite poems of the evening, Raymond, at 60, is a mirror poem about her uncle, who remained child-like even as an adult. There were more real people in some of the other poems – Jan Grzelski who was in a coma for nineteen years, an ex-husband in ‘This Is the Poem in which I Have Not Left You’ and the German great grandfather of her current husband. He was killed in the first world war and this is one of the poems commissioned by Carol Ann Duffy for 1914 Poetry remembers. Julia Copus gave just enough explanation before each poem to give you the context. I left Woodstock wanting more poems which is just as it should be since I came away with a copy of The World’s Two Smallest Humans.

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