Award-winning Norwich poet Tim Lenton has a new collection of work out called Under Cover of Day, all written between 2010 and 2020. Here, he explains that although some of the poems have been inspired by Covid-19, the pandemic was almost too big an event to turn into poetry
The Norfolk landscape, UK and overseas travel, Norwich Cathedral, The Rosary Cemetery in Norwich and the Covid-19 pandemic have all inspired Tim Lenton’s new work of poems, Under Cover of Day, spanning the decade between 2010 and 2020. It wasn’t a given that the pandemic would inspire some of the work, as he says: ‘I don’t work very systematically and rely on inspiration striking. This can come in the form of a phrase, something observed, an odd juxtaposition etc. As Margaret Atwood said, “Poetry isn’t written from the idea down. It’s written from the phrase, line and stanza up, which is different from what your teacher taught you to do in school.”
‘So, lockdown, although a major event, wasn’t a huge motivating, creative force as far as I was concerned, though of course I did write a few lockdown poems, such as “Brief Encounter in Masks”. Those that I did write at the time were often prompted by my exercise walks – especially the ones to the Rosary Cemetery. I don’t find big events all that easy to turn into poetry, because they’re too big – and often everyone has the same ideas about them.
‘I suppose there was a little more time to write, but this was affected by landing up in hospital six months in, because of a gall-bladder infection. I wrote a couple of poems about that!
Tim is a prize-winning poet who has been writing and performing poetry for many years. He is a winner of the Fish International Poetry Prize and the Norwich Writers’ Circle Open Competition.
His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has published several books, sometimes with photographs and sometimes in conjunction with Joy McCall, an internationally recognised tanka and ryuka poet, most recently Norfolk Ways, with Joy McCall, tanka poetry and pictures (Mousehold Press, 2017).
He has also edited books and written poetry on behalf of the Paston Heritage Society. Published by Cockleshell Press, including In the Footprints of the Pastons, which includes a guided walk round medieval Norwich (2017).
Tim explains the background to this latest collection of work: ‘These poems were written largely between 2010 and 2020. They reflect various places and styles. Although I enjoy writing to a strict structure, as in haiku and tanka, most of my poems are based mainly on rhythm and aim to be accessible and a bit mysterious at the same time.
‘Life is in many ways a mystery, and to ignore this will make writing in verse forms too facile and unrewarding. But the poet must have a philosophy of life – a belief, if you like – that attempts to make some sense of the mystery.
‘Poems must have a certain depth to make them worthwhile. But, of course, different readers will enjoy swimming at different depths. My aim as a poet is to make my words deep enough, but not too deep – rather as Einstein urged us to make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Under Cover of Day, Poems by Tim Lenton (price £6), is published by Paul Dickson Books, www.pauldicksonbooks.co.uk. It is on sale at Allthingsnorfolk.com, Amazon, City Bookshop Norwich and Revelation Bookshop Norwich.