Publisher: Bloodaxe Books
When she died, in 2009, Anthony Thwaite described U.A. Fanthorpe as a 'smiling subversive with a voice like bird-song'. An encouraging example to all late developers, this particular bird's voice took its time: she didn't become a poet until she was 45. But these examples of her very earliest work show the latent mastery and the rapid development of the craft that would bring her wide critical acclaim and an affectionate general readership. The mysteries of the trade gradually reveal themselves as rooted in a wide and uncensored range of subject-matter, a life-time's love of words, and an intuitive grasp of the mechanics of form and voice. Recognising her role so late, she was a woman in a hurry; there wasn't time for self-consciousness or grandiose notions of 'vocation'. 'A poet,' she said, 'is a smuggler. He imports things clandestinely which are not supposed to have got through the customs.' Poetry 'happened to me', she would say. Her job? To listen, to pass it on.