Sunday Poem – Jonathan Davidson

Hello folks.  The Sunday Poem this week is by Jonathan Davidson.  His latest collection ‘Early Train’ has been published by the wonderful Smith/Doorstop.  I first met Jonathan last year at Ledbury Poetry Festival, although we didn’t really have a chance to talk.  This year however, I was there for the whole of the second weekend and spent two lovely evenings in the pub with Jonathan, Andrew Forster and others.  Jonathan has a great sense of humour and is very passionate about poetry and the wider development of literature audiences, as can be seen from his biog below the poem.  I also recently saw him read at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, where he had the audience laughing out loud at his introductions to his poems.

There were lots of poems I could have chosen from ‘Early Train’ but this one is definately a favourite.  I love the humour in this, and the self-consciousness of it.  I would definately recommmend having a look at Jonathan’s collection – you can buy it from

On Learning a Poem by Peter Didsbury-by Jonathan Davidson

I am learning a poem by Peter Didsbury,
speaking it to the apple-crisp morning while walking
the knife-narrow lane.

I’m using the ‘image’ method, linking each line
to an object or two, to anchor the words
in the stream of my mind.

Things are not going well; the poem, Cider Story,
is not cushion-stuffed with images and lots
of the language is opaque

and will not be still but keeps drifting off towards
the shallows of my consciousness
where the ducks are feeding.

There are no ducks in Cider Story, although two
have just cut the sky with their urgent flight.
And now a single hare sits up

in a field and looks at me in much the same way
I imagine Peter Didsbury would, although
neither of them are in the poem.

And then a deer springs rhythmically across my path
into a thicket: his publishers, surely,
astonished at my nerve.

And here comes a red and yellow low-loader loaded
with oblong portable public conveniences
bowling along the lane

heedless of my health and welfare, unaware
that I am trying to learn a poem by heart.
Then the black dog appears.

Then the white cat.  Then the sound of the lapwing
and then the lapwing itself and by the time I enter
the neighbourhood watch area

I’ve barely half a stanza learned and images enough
to cobble courtyards with should I be of a mind
to do so, which I am.

Jonathon Davidson was born in 1964 and grew up in Didcot, South Oxfordshire. He now lives in Coventry and is married with two children.

He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1990 and his first collection of poetry, The Living Room, was published by Arc in 1994. He has published two poetry pamphlets, Moving the Stereo (Jackson’s Arm, 1993) and A Horse Called House (Smith/Doorstop, 1997). His second collection, Early Train, was published in 2011.

His many radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, along with adaptations of Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns and W.S.Graham’s The Nightfishing. His stage adaptation of Mary Webb’s novel Precious Bane was produced by Interplay Theatre and toured extensively in 2008 and 2009. As a theatre producer he has developed four poetry-theatre productions based on Bloodaxe Books’ anthologies, most recently Being Human, which tours nationally in Autumn 2012 (

He is director of Midland Creative Projects Limited, Associate Director of the Birmingham Book Festival and Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands. He is Hon. Secretary of the Humphrey Coningsby Society.

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