The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

21 Apr 2009


Last week I attended some talks, readings and other events related to poetry within the programm of Cosmopoética in Córdoba. There, I had the opportunity to listen to Alan Sillitoe and his wife, Ruth Fainlight. Up until then I had little knowledge about Sillitoe, just an association of his name with the story The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

When talking about his approach to poetry, he told us that he started to write due to an 18-month-long convalescence when hospitalised with tuberculosis at the age of 19. After that experience, he decided to read what he considered important such as the Bible or Shakespeare in order to fill a gap in his literary knowledge. He stressed the importance of reading previous to writing.

His first volume of poetry, Without Beer or Bread was published in 1957. He also published Poems (1971), with Ted Hughes and Ruth Fainlight, Storm and Other Poems (1974) and Barbarians and Other Poems (1973).

Regarding his fiction works, Alan Sillitoe is grouped among the "angry young men" of the 1950s, with John Osborne, John Braine, John Wain, Arnold Wesker, and Kingsley Amis.

Among some other few poems, he read ‘The Morse Machine’. A recording of that reading can be seen at the end of this video.

In fact, Sillitoe trained as a wireless operator in World War II and still practises taking Morse code.

“I keep up my skill with Morse by taking messages from the radio now and again. It's a kind of therapy. When I can't write I tap out a few words to get me going, or sometimes as a plea to the gods to send another poem or novel”

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