Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hull's Most Famous Librarian Gets Feted

I've always had a soft spot for Philip Larkin's poetry; for a dose of surly grumpiness on the disappointments of daily modern life, you really can't beat him. I pick up his Collected Poems whenever I need a chuckle or to be reminded that things are never that gloomy. Just read his poem "Toads" and "Toads Revisited" anytime you have a bad day at work.

Larkin also spent numerous years as a librarian at the University of Hull in the city where I was born, although I've never actually set foot in my birthplace because my parents left before I was old enough to walk and I've never been back. A couple of years ago, Hull was voted as England's number one crap city to live in which didn't exactly make me nostalgic for a visit.
However, this would be a good year to make that pilgrimage. Hull is marking the 25th anniversary of Larkin's death with a series of celebrations including a tourist trail as outlined in this piece from The Independent. A website, Larkin25 will also list information about other upcoming events.

And if you are a fan, I highly recommend getting a copy of the audio CD Pretending to Be Me. This is a recording of a one-man play written and performed by the British actor Tom Courtenay and it is just hilarious! Courtenay plays an older Larkin reflecting on his life and work and in the course of the play, he reads a number of Larkin's best-known poems from "This Be The Verse" to "The Whitsun Weddings". A real treat for Larkin admirers but if you love Alan Bennett and his unique type of British humour, you will also definitely get a kick out of this. It's on my iPOD - ever ready to rescue me from the blues.

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