Friday, July 11, 2008

From blueberries to blackberries


My 'Blackberries' is Poem of the Week at the Scoop Review of Books. The piece was written in September 2003, on the tenth anniversary of the premature death of EP Thompson, and it turned up in my 2007 book To the Moon, in Seven Easy Steps, where it had the title 'Blueberries'.

The poem's account of Thompson's death draws on a fine memoir by the left-wing historian and political activist Peter Linebaugh, who was one of the circle of brilliant young Americans who travelled across the Atlantic to study under Thompson at Warwick University in the late '60s and early '70s. In the early stages of my PhD research I discovered Linebaugh's e mail address, and bombarded him with questions about his long friendship with Thompson; the answers I received were invariably generous.

When I was finishing my thesis footnotes earlier this year I reread Linebaugh's memoir, and realised that I'd put the wrong berry in my poem. I don't think Mr Thompson would have taken a very favourable view of such a flagrant historical inaccuracy, so I've rectified my error and retitled the poem.

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