'I dislike the idea of being a religious poet': former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

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The former Archbishop of Canterbury and poet, Rowan Williams, will be discussing his new Collected Poems with fellow Carcanet poet Rachel Mann at an online launch event on Wednesday 15 December.

His earlier collections have included pieces prompted by the landscape and literature of West Wales, and a sequence of poems on the varieties of love in the plays of Shakespeare. This new volume adds a sequence commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster, tributes to writers as different as Alan Garner and John Milton, and a reflection on sculptures by Antony Gormley.

“I dislike the idea of being a religious poet,” he says. “I would prefer to be a poet for whom religious things mattered intensely.”

In a blog published on the Carcanet website he adds: “You may write a poem that arises out of political outrage and passion, and seeks to move its reader to some of the same outrage and passion … but once you’ve begun to write, that passion has to find its way through and in what the words and images are doing – not to interrupt the language and boss it about.” 

Rowan Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012.

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