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“France,” by Douglas Dunn

August 23, 2010

Today, a ghost in duplicate.

Five years ago, I took a 12-month sabbatical from teaching and moved my family to Scotland to work on an MLitt in poetry-writing at the University of St. Andrews. The head of the program was Douglas Dunn, a gracious man whose office smelled like 30 convivial years of Silk Cut cigarette-smoking and looked like North Sea jetsam if everything onboard had been poetry books. He knew a line from a poem in every one of those books, I think, and he loaned his books generously–and, in one case, permanently since I came home with his complete R.S. Thomas among my things.  Yes, I wrote and apologized, and Douglas offered that I could keep it.

It was a year of hard, good writing in St. Andrews, and I’ll fill up the Feed this week with readings from the poets I worked with–and loved working with–there.

“France” is one of Dunn’s elegies for his wife who died in 1981.  It’s in his book, Elegies (Faber & Faber, 1985).  Because the book is so full of sad, loving, lovely poems, here’s another, “Writing With Light”:

Here’s a link to a few of Dunn’s other poems, and him reading them aloud.

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