A note on : The Poetry Society annual lecture with Jan Wagner

The first time I've attended the Poetry Society annual lecture, given by Jan Wagner at Kings College, after a short national tour. I met Jan for the first time in Berlin, travelling there as a tourist many years ago, having barely written much, just emailing him from nowhere really. He came to meet me, showed me around Berlin, was immensely hospitable and generous to me. Such things are not to be taken lightly, the gesture belying his great humanity, humility and talent. His lecture was really remarkable, rang powerfully true to me. Over an hour in length in covered enormous ground so i don't wish to do it a disservice by merely focusing on a few likely misunderstood or misrepresented points but his deft exploration of influence, how we carry our poetry forebears and heroes with us, where this becomes lost in our work, though still present in our own minds, is very important to me, having written of those who hold such sway over me often (Mayakovsky, Pessoa, Hollo, Raworth, Salamun and co). What I should say rather than recounting the lecture, soon to be published in the Poetry Review and available as an audio file, is that it seemed to me represent Jan as what I aspire to be - a human being working through life with poetry, and not the other way around. Not a poet working through being a human being. Though our work is markedly different, though I share his passion for form (I have no gift for it), I feel an immense kinship with his method, his contextual sensitivity and his sure sense of lineage and deep reading. Moreover he is an immensely decent person, and this is enormously important, fundamental to what I deem a necessary modern turn we should seek in connecting poetics and ethics. I would recommend those interested seek out his book from Arc publishing too, https://www.arcpublications.co.uk/books/jan-wagner-self-portrait-with-a-swarm-of-bees-532 It is no small thing too that the Poetry Society choose a European poet to give this lecture too, the first time since its inception I'm told, an important and marked thing at this time in our island's political climate.