Mike Lay’s 5 Favourite Poems

Mike Lay. Photo: Nick Pumphrey

The poems that are providing episode 117 guest Mike Lay with solace during this period. 

1. The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

“I was never a writer or reader of poems as a child. I read them when they were put in front of us at school; enjoyed them even. But never sought them out or revisited them. This was the poem that changed that. This poem was part of the English syllabus while I was studying at Truro College and I loved it. It is a journey, a whole thing made up of component parts. It is simple, easy to read yet dissectible and layered. You can go as deep as you like, like the ocean which is where it ends”.

Read it here

2. Digging by Seamus Heaney

“Though I had started to read poetry by university, I’d written next to nothing. I remember being in my first lecture with one idea in my head. Precious like a pearl. I didn’t want to let it go for fear of losing it, never having another one. This poem by Seamus Heaney helped me understand that ideas are not some bestowed gift. They can be worked at”.

Read it here

3. Enter a Cloud by WS Graham

“I can inhabit this poem more than most any other, for obvious geographical reasons. Its place is my place. Graham was a Glaswegian who lived in Madron in West Cornwall for most of his life. But the final verse also lets you in. It recognises and realises the building blocks of the poem, and thanks them”.

Read it here. 

4. Digging by Sam Willetts

“Growing up surrounded by beauty, I was drawn to beauty in poetry. I tried to write of the beautiful. This poem taught me that pain and sadness and vulnerability could hold moments of beauty. Or no moments of beauty. The whole collection New Light for the Old Dark is stunning”.

Read it here.

5. Falling for a Dolphin by Heathcote Williams

“A longer poem and one for our times. Reading it is an escape. A plunge into three dimensions. A tantalising brush with the beyond”.

Read it here