Sunday Poem – Maria Taylor

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Maria Taylor.  Last weekend I went down to Leicester Shindig (see previous post!) and heard Maria read to launch her new collection, ‘Melanchrini’ published by Nine Arches Press (

I’m really enjoying ‘Melanchrini’ – my other favourite poem is ‘Merman’ which I would have loved to post on here as well where the speaker of the poem captures a merman and tries to keep him happy by keeping him in the bath, and ‘Felling A Maiden’ which explores the conflicting feelings of a woman changing her name once she is married – a subject close to my heart!

I loved Maria’s set in Leicester – and ‘Larkin’, this week’s Sunday poem, had me laughing out loud in places, so I thought it would be a great one to have for the blog.  Maria is an interesting poet in a variety of ways, not least because she has Greek heritage, moving to London at the age of six, and this dual heritage adds a unique presence to her work.  Her poetry and reviews have been published in a variety of publications including The TLS. 

Not only do Maria and I have Leicester in common (I’m originally from Leicester and she now lives there) but she also has two lovely twin daughters – who I met a couple of weekends ago, very briefly.  And of course, I’m a twin…

Anyway, here is the poem.  Enjoy.  Let me know what you think.

September. Someone hands me a copy of Larkin,
thirty eager teenage faces search me for clues.
I will love teaching Larkin, I will embrace Larkin,
‘A’ Level Syllabi, York Notes, Spark Notes;
we’re going to crack this Larkin like a walnut.
October. Larkin has moved in. My photographs
are all of Larkin, the face on the television
belongs to Larkin. In the crisp mornings
birds are tweeting Larkin! Larkin! Larkin!
It’s Sunday lunchtime, thirty essays on Larkin
scream at me.  Was Larkin a misogynist?
Was Larkin a misanthrope? Was Larkin a joker?
I give up and go in search of food. Larkin passes me
the leeks and compliments me on my choice of wine.
The term ends. We have done our Christmas quiz
on Larkin. ‘I hate Larkin,’ says a small girl with eczema.
‘Tis the season to be Larkin. I go home with a suitcase
full of Larkin. On Boxing Day I drink brandy
and salute Larkin. I think I’m going Larkin.
Last night when I was asleep, Larkin was on top
of me again, grunting. His lenses were all steamed-up,
he enjoys the feel of the living, the way we move.
I fended him off with a hardback of New Women Poets
and woke up, relieved to see someone else.
You may turn over and begin. Mr. Larkin is your invigilator for today.
I raise my hand, ‘How do you spell MCMXIV?’
He clips the back of my ear with a shatterproof ruler.
I draw a Smurf in the margin, I have forgotten everything
there is to know about Larkin. He gives up on me and leaves.
Larkin’s shoes echo noisily through the gym.
August. Twisted. They’re opening little envelopes,
some smile, some cry. A photographer from the local paper
takes photos of students throwing Larkin in the air.
I’m better now, cured of Larkin. The girl with eczema
has a lighter. I find a charred copy of High Windows
behind the gym with a used condom and a can of Lilt.
Never such innocence, as I think someone once said.

6 comments on “Sunday Poem – Maria Taylor

  1. I’ve heard Maria read Larkin several times now and I enjoy it more each time. Thanks for making it your Sunday Poem, Kim, 🙂

    1. Thanks Jayne. Yes, I loved it straight away, and when I heard her read it, it made me laugh out loud – there are not many poems that can do that!

  2. Such a relief to read a poem that I can (a) understand, (b) laugh at and (c) relate to after struggling with a heap of Eliot, Yeats and Berryman for my MA. Just hope that none of them tries to jump into bed with me!!

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