Sudbury: New volume for celebrated poet Rodney Pybus

Poet Rodney Pybus is pictured at his home in Sudbury with his latest book.

Poet Rodney Pybus is pictured at his home in Sudbury with his latest book. - Credit: Archant

AN award-winning poet from Suffolk has looked far beyond his home county for inspiration for his latest book.

Rodney Pybus, who has lived and worked in Sudbury since the early 1980s, has devoted two sections of the work, Darkness Inside Out, to poems influenced by time spent in Africa.

Mr Pybus, 74, whose words were praised by the late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, as “wonderfully graceful” and “words that seem natural and moving”, was born in Newcastle upon Tyne.

He was educated at Cambridge, and in the 1960s and 1970s he worked as a newspaper journalist and TV producer, specialising in arts and education. In 1982 he was awarded the UK’s first-ever Arts Council Writer’s Fellowship based in a secondary school. He also spent around 15 years teaching literature and media studies at Sudbury Upper School.

Although he was interested in poetry as a teenager, Mr Pybus admits he had always hoped to write novels.

He said: “At some stage as you grow up, you get bitten by a bug. I knew I loved words and language but I believed I was going to be a novelist. However, in truth I wasn’t very good at writing novels. Having a busy job with very little time, it was easier to write a few poems than to come up with chapter upon chapter for a novel.”

He credits the poet Jon Silkin, who founded the literary magazine Stand, for encouraging him to pursue a career writing peotry. He added: “I met Jon when I interviewed him for a newspaper and I became interested in what he was doing with the magazine (Stand). I showed him some of my work and he was very encouraging. He had huge knowledge and provided an opportunity for me to submit work to Stand, which was the first place that my poems were published.”

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His first book, In Memoriam Milena, was published in 1973 and he has gone on to produce several works since then. He has also won numerous awards including a Hawthornden Fellowship, The Poetry Society’s Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize and major accolades in the National Poetry Competition.

Mr Pybus believes interest in poetry as an art from is as strong as ever, especially in his home town, which hosts one of five regular poetry cafes as part of the Suffolk Poetry Society. There are also monthly readings by visiting poets at Gainsborough House.

He concluded: “The popular end of the poetry market these days is poetry written for performance on stage, rather like stand-up comedy. My poetry is more likely to be read in a book, but I think there is still room for both kinds of poet.”

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