Kevin Crossley-Holland – An East Anglian Poet

‘Watercolour’ – from: Poems from East Anglia by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Published by Enitharmon.


I am an avid reader of poetry (and occasionally put pen to paper myself).  Poetry seems to enable us to capture images and emotions so sensitively and concisely – a few well-chosen words, cleverly combined and arranged into lines or verses, can express so much more than a whole page of narrative.

Whenever we go to East Anglia and drive or walk across the wide open spaces – fields, marshes, the eroded shoreline under enormous skies -I am reminded of lines from Kevin Crossley-Holland’s finely wrought verse.  Reading his poetry is like breathing in the salty air, listening to birdsong or watching the sun sink slowly behind the reeds.  He has a great gift for observation but also for capturing a sense of place and a moment in time.   His poetry is the literary equivalent of a minimalist landscape – elemental – where tone, texture, form and line are carefully and considerately combined to produce a light-filled painting:  Or if you are musical – skilfully arranging a score or musical composition. Whichever simile you prefer – a work of genius; something so much greater than the sum of its parts.  Past, present, future, history, landscape and light combine in his work to create for the reader something similar in nature to what T S Eliot’s refers to as the ‘still point’.  And the result is magical.

Usually in my journal I would include an image but it feels unnecessary here as his poem conjures its own landscape which will be unique to each and every one of you who reads it.  And that is the wonderful thing about words; as with images – their meanings alter when we, as individuals, process and decipher what they mean to us personally.

So for those readers who do not regard themselves as talented artists – or have not yet discovered a hidden skill – here is the opportunity to paint an image in your head.  I give you  ‘Watercolour’.  Enjoy the creative process and the beauty of East Anglia.