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To know Peter Porter was to ‘delight in his company’.

By ALAN BROWNJOHN [TLS] – The huge 1960s wave of poetry readings — by everyone, everywhere — was not discernible on the horizon, so younger poets met each other at a relatively small number of venues where the famous or notorious performed their work. Peter Porter was there on the night Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso gave their first London reading – I believe – at the humanists’ Contemporary Poetry and Music Circle just off High Street Kensington in 1957. But Martin Bell and Peter Redgrove were on the same platform, so they were making their mark.

My own records suggest that I was meeting Peter with others, outside the weekly Group meetings, in this period, but that we were not seeing each other on a one-to-one basis until about 1963. In November that year we did our first poetry reading together, at the City Literary Institute in Stukeley Street. Our host, the wonderful teacher John Berrisford, announced at the end that next week there would be a seminar on two novels, The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch and The Centaur by John Updike; and Peter remarked, “A case of miscegenation?”. Somewhere, lost among the many disparate layers of time I myself was devoting to overlapping activities – teaching, writing, politics (somehow I’d been elected a borough councillor), was a stretch when I came to know Peter very well, to delight in his company, to like him greatly. He became the face it was extremely good news to see on entering any gathering.

Continued at The Times Literary Supplement | More Chronicle & Notices.


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