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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, May 10, 2007
    Simple journey

    This is an extract from Paul Farley's reinterpretation of Polyolbion, Michael Drayton's epic journey in verse around England and Wales. I love the poem, of course, with its Mersey Estuary perspectives and its playful alt.rock Godspeed nod (which means something else to me too).

    I like Farley's interview too, which accompanies the poem in Magma 37 (Spring 2007). In it he talks of being excited by Beryl Bainbridge's update of Priestley's English Journey, when she came to the place where Farley was growing up, and his admiration of other literary journeys such as Paul Theroux's Kingdom by the Sea or Patrick Keiller's Robinson in Space. And especially - because it encourages my own related quest - I like the way he describes what he's trying to do on the journey he is making to retrace Michael Drayton's steps:

    'My own intentions are simply to write as well as I can, I can't offer up any sense of project beyond that. I would like my poem to contain the fizz and crackle, the texture, of the contemporary and our experience of living in this landscape and moving through it. I would admit to that.'