The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 28, 2016

July 28, 1931

We quote a summary of the career of Alan Brownjohn from a publisher:

Poet Alan Brownjohn was born in London on 28 July 1931 and was educated at Merton College, Oxford. He worked as a schoolteacher between 1957 and 1965 and lectured at Battersea College of Education and South Bank Polytechnic until he left to become a full-time freelance writer in 1979. A regular broadcaster, reviewer and contributor to journals including the Times Literary Supplement, Encounter and theSunday Times, Alan Brownjohn was poetry critic for the New Statesman and was Chairman of the Poetry Society between 1982 and 1988. He has also served on the Arts Council literature panel, was a Labour councillor and a candidate for Parliament. His first collection of poetry, The Railings, was published in 1961. Other poetry books include Collected Poems 1952-1983 (1983, re-issued in 1988) and The Observation Car (1990). He is also the author of three novels, The Way You Tell Them: A Yarn of the Nineties (1990), The Long Shadows (1997) and A Funny Old Year (2001), as well as two books for children and a critical study of the poet Philip Larkin. His novel Windows on the Moon was published in 2009. His latest poetry collection Ludbrooke & Others was published by Enitharmon in July 2010.

Alan Brownjohn, wrote the poem we quote below. It is titled "The Seventh Knight and the Green Cat: A Variation on the Gawain poet." In this Arthurian themed story, a mother marries off six of her daughters to knights who are first approached by a white cat as they sit drinking in a parlor, an episode repeated through six meetings.

..and the first
To sit by the swarming fire sipping mead with
Mother and eldest daughter, saw with much delight
The white cat pace to him, as he loved them,

The edition in which I found this, was titled 
Collected Poems: 1952–2006 (2006).  In a Guardian review  of it, an interview in 1983, is recalled:

Brownjohn was asked what impression he would like people to take away from his poems. His reply was...characteristic: "I should like people to read my work and think it was like drinking lemonade, only to find a little later that it was strongly laced. I'd want it to go down like lemonade but to hit them like vodka."

We see a bit of that in our excerpt above. Not the vodka so much, but good lemonade is its own virtue.

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