Thursday, August 19, 2021

"A breath in earshot": Glyn Maxwell remembers his mentor Derek Walcott in "Thirty Years"

An elegy after Derek Walcott's death, Glyn Maxwell's "Thirty Years" (in "How the Hell Are You", Picador 2020) recalls Maxwell's time as one of Walcott's Boston University students with "our ballpoints circling what we think you mean". Even decades later, he hears his teacher: "There is a breath in earshot / which isn't always mine, the wince is yours / when the line-break's wrong, the groan / when I reckon something's finished". A "man alone with [his] mentor" is bequeathed that "breath" and "wince" that Maxwell's poem movingly evokes as he remembers Walcott. But sadly, too many female students of male mentors later only "groan" at the memory of sexual harassment. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 August 2021)


Book cover for 9781529037739

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