Trinity alumna and poet, Rebecca Watts, and Trinity Fellow, Professor Adrian Poole, will feature in a BBC Look East report on Monday 12 June about Trinity Poets, the first anthology of poems by nearly 50 authors from Elizabethan times to the present, all members of the College.
Famous literary figures – including Lord Byron, Alfred Tennyson and A E Housman – are joined by young rising stars on the poetry scene, including those who live and write in Cambridgeshire.
Look East’s Shaun Peel interviewed Rebecca Watts under the Wren Library in Nevile’s Court where she read an extract from ‘Two Bats’, a poem partly inspired by a confused baby bat flying into her room in New Court where she lived in her second year at Trinity.
Ms Watts’ debut collection, The Met Office Advises Caution, was published in 2016, 12 years after she graduated with a first class degree in English. It has been shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for First Full Collection, and was listed in the ‘Best Books of 2016’ by The Financial Times and The Guardian. She said:
Funnily enough, it didn’t occur to me write poetry as an undergraduate. I was so busy reading the works of well-known authors, writing essays and generally trying to keep up with the Cambridge syllabus. And I didn’t know anyone who was a creative writer, so I just never thought of it as an option.
After a Master’s at Oxford, and working variously in publishing, education and the heritage sector, Ms Watts began reading contemporary poetry and joined a creative writing evening class in London.
When I started reading poetry published in the past 20 years or so, something clicked. These were voices that I felt were speaking to me directly, about things I recognised in the world. I realised then that poetry is very much a living art form, which – whenever it is written – makes use of the language and everyday material of its time, to find new ways of exploring the bigger questions that concern us all.
Professor Poole, who co-edited the volume with Professor Angela Leighton, PhD researcher Chris Scott and other Fellows in English, said that Trinity Poets was a healthy reminder of the College’s rich literary heritage – and its continued inspiration to young writers today.
Trinity is known for its outstanding scientists and mathematicians – from Newton and Clerk Maxwell to Ramanujan and Kapitsa. But equally the College has inspired the creativity of literary luminaries and contemporary writers.
Trinity Poets, which is published by Carcanet, has proved popular, with 150 copies sold so far.
Some of the poets whose work features in the anthology were visiting fellows in the creative arts – two-year positions at Trinity, which provide the freedom and space for developing artists, composers and writers. Professor Poole said the scheme, which this year celebrates 50 years, reflected Trinity’s vigorous commitment to the arts and humanities.
Shaun Peel’s interview with Professor Poole and Rebecca Watts will be broadcast BBC Look East on Monday 12 June. The programme begins at 6.30pm.