I was deeply saddened yesterday to hear of Tom Duddy's death. He was an exceptional poet and his humanity shone through every line of his verse.
In a fairer world, Tom Duddy's collections would sell in their thousands. Even so, his popularity is guaranteed among those of us who are still convinced that poetry can be an accessible and entertaining art without losing its depth. His capacity to capture and transform moments, especially in terms of love, accompanies us now and in the future, as in this example from The Small Hours:
"...As thought gives way to love, the rhythm falters,
her breathing lurches and comes fitfully,
a name, hardly a name, is drily mouthed,
and I enclose her hand all-roundedly
and hold it, hold it, while the dream rages."
HappenStance published Duddy's first chapbook, which took its title from the afore-mentioned poem, while Arlen House brought out his first full collection, The Hiding Place, in 2011. I gave the latter book a richly-deserved glowing review on this blog back in December, and Tom Duddy found the time to write and thank me even in the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis of his illness. I'm just pleased he witnessed the slow-burning growth of his reputation.
I gather there was a new collection in the pipeline and I very much hope that it sees the light of day. Tom Duddy was acquiring an ever-larger band of poetic followers, and the best memorial would be to encourage more readers to discover his work. For the moment, I'd like to finish this post by pointing you in the direction of the recordings of four poems that he uploaded to SoundCloud, the last of them just a few days ago. Duddy was a terrific reader of his own verse. Listen, enjoy, remember him and spead the word!
There's a myth I've grown up with that the black notes are harder. "They're not," says my son, categorically, this evening. He realises that I am a pupil ...