From Dylan Thomas’s eighteen straight whiskies to Sylvia Plath’s desperate suicide in the gas oven of her Primrose Hill kitchen; from Chatterton’s Pre-Raphaelite demise to Keats’ death warrant in a smudge of arterial blood, the deaths of poets have often cast a backward shadow on their work.
The post-Romantic lore of the dissolute drunken poet has fatally skewed the image of poets in our culture. Novelists can be stable, savvy, politically adept and in control, but poets should be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive. Is this just an illusion , or is there some essential truth behind it? What is the price of poetry?
In this book, two contemporary poets embark on a series of journeys to the death places of poets of the past, in part as pilgrims, but also as investigators, interrogating the myth.
Prize-winning poet Ruth Padel is renowned as a guide to understanding today's poetry. Her much-loved 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem introduced the contemporary poetry scene and discussed individual poems. Her new book, invaluable for all who want to write as well as read poems, reveals the journey of thought, language and music within sixty more poems and also shows how poems fortify us on the journey of our lives, in a collection of essays written in elegant, accessible prose.